Author Archives: Abbey Brown

New York Green Bank’s First Deals Underscore State’s Commitment to Clean Energy Future

ny-green-bankClean energy finance is thriving in New York State. This week, Governor Cuomo announced the New York Green Bank’s first set of deals, totaling an impressive $800 million in clean energy investments across the state. The projects funded by this investment will yield an impressive annual reduction of 575,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, roughly equivalent to removing 120,000 cars from the road or planting 15 million trees per year. This move helps cement New York’s role as a leading state in the clean energy economy.

By offering attractive interest rates and other incentives to stimulate interest from the private sector, green banks encourage investment in clean energy projects that may otherwise have difficulty obtaining private financing. Ideally, these initial deals then set the stage for an active and self-sustaining market in renewable energy and energy efficiency finance.

And the NY Green Bank is starting off swinging: its initial investment of $200 million catalyzed $600 million more in investment from prominent financial institutions, such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, New York| 1 Response

NYC Mayor Launches Energy Efficiency Program Modeled After NYC Clean Heat

Source: Kevin Case Flickr

Source: Kevin Case Flickr

Over the weekend, New York City Mayor de Blasio unveiled an ambitious plan to address energy use in the city’s buildings, called NYC Built to Last. Through this plan, NYC is committing to reduce its emissions by 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. This makes NYC the largest city in the world to commit to a goal like this. Representing three quarters of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, New York City buildings must play a central role in any effective climate action plan, and Mayor de Blasio knows this.

A key component of this plan is the ‘retrofit accelerator,’ a program modeled on the successful NYC Clean Heat program. Retrofit accelerator aims to upgrade 20,000 private buildings, making up 15 percent of citywide built square footage. Of these buildings, 40 percent of them will be low-income housing.

EDF partnered with the City to create NYC Clean Heat, which forged a diverse coalition of financial, real estate, and non-profit communities to launch a $100 million financing program to help phase out dirty heating oils. Last week, the City announced the program met its goal of reducing soot pollution from heating oil in NYC by 50 percent. The program helped 4,000 buildings – half of them affordable housing – convert to cleaner, more efficient heating fuels. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency| 2 Responses, comments now closed

U.N. Climate Summit Attendees Should Look to its Hosting City as a Model for Success

nyc clean heat

Next week, climate delegates from around the world will flood into the city for the United Nations Climate Summit, where they will negotiate the finer details of international policies to address climate change. But climate action need not always unfold on global stages. Cities, too, can be prime drivers in improving our environment, and the U.N. Climate Summit’s host, New York City, is a great example.

New York City’s Clean Heat program reached its goal of reducing soot pollution by half in just two years. NYC Clean Heat is a program to replace dirty heating oil in the city’s most polluting commercial and residential buildings.

Successful environmental campaigns require broad support and NYC Clean Heat is no different. EDF helped convene the diverse coalition of city officials, non-profits, and private sector banks to launch a $100 million financing program to help building owners transition from dirty heating oils to cleaner fuels such as natural gas or biodiesel.

Read More »

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New Case Study: Collaboration was Key in NYC Clean Heat Success

Source: Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons

Source: Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons

Recently, EDF and The Intersector Project teamed up to create a case study on the NYC Clean Heat program, a collaborative effort that included partners from private real estate interests, New York City, oil companies, and the Environmental Defense Fund. The program began in 2007 to improve the city’s air quality and the case study highlights the inter-workings of this cross-sector collaboration that has made NYC Clean Heat such a success.

The NYC Clean Heat project achieved success by transitioning over 3,300 buildings off of No. 6 and No. 4 oil (used to heat residential and commercial buildings in the winter), removing more than 300 tons of soot (PM2.5) from the air New Yorkers breathe. As a result, from 2011 to 2012, New York City was ranked number four for the cleanest air in the nation. Read More »

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Scaling NYC Clean Heat’s Unique Public-Private Partnership for Energy Efficiency

Abbey Brown PhotoRecently, New Yorkers bid farewell to our Mayor of twelve years, Mike Bloomberg. Under Bloomberg’s prevue, EDF helped catalyze the NYC Clean Heat program – which led to the cleanest air the City has seen in the last fifty years. Through NYC Clean Heat’s efforts over the past few years to phase out the use of highly-polluting No. 6 heating oil in more than 3,000 buildings across NYC, sulfur pollution fell by more than two-thirds while soot pollution dropped by a quarter.

NYC Clean Heat has made great strides in helping buildings become cleaner and more efficient, but there is still much work to be done. EDF is wasting no time in capitalizing on the effective public-private partnership we helped assemble of community and union leaders, policymakers and leaders in the utility, real estate and finance sectors to bring more environmental and public health gains to the City. Our next target:  All that energy wasted by old and inefficient buildings.

Nearly 40% of U.S. energy is consumed by residential and commercial buildings, which are responsible for more than a third of our country’s greenhouse gases.  The building sector presents one of the greatest untapped opportunities for major gains in energy savings and pollution reductions over the next several years.  Read More »

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EDF-Led Public-Private Coalition a Model for Cities around the World

Abbey BrownBy now you might have heard the story.  Andy Darrell and his fellow colleagues in EDF’s New York office were staring out the window of their office near Gramercy Park several years ago when they noticed thick plumes of black smoke rising from a nearby building.  As New York regional director of the Environmental Defense Fund and a member of outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC Sustainability Advisory Board, it struck Andy that they could actually do something about it.  Embarking on a plan that aimed to phase out the City’s dirtiest heating oils, the successful EDF-led NYC Clean Heat campaign was born.

This story officially entered New York City environmental lore when New York Magazine included it in the annual Reasons to Love New York issue as “Reason 19. Because Our Air Is the Cleanest It’s Been in 50 Years.”  The recent article describes the public-private coalition of city officials, lawmakers, non-profits and private sector banks that came together for a $100 million financing program that would help building owners make the transition to cleaner fuels.  The result: around 3,000 buildings have converted to cleaner fuels, which has been the primary driver in reducing sulfur-dioxide pollution by nearly 70 percent. Read More »

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WATCH: NYC Clean Heat Video

EDF’s US Climate and Energy Program takes to the airwaves

A lot has been happening with NYC Clean Heat lately.  We have converted over 1,200 boilers to the cleanest available fuels and we have reduced over 150 tons of soot pollution, or particulate matter (PM2.5), from the air.  That number is equivalent to removing over 800,000 light-duty passenger vehicles from the road for one year, or over 13 billion miles traveled!

And now we’re taking to the airwaves.  We created a video to showcase our achievements and create a new outreach tool to propel us to our next accomplishment.

Source: NYC Clean Heat

To give you a little background, NYC’s Department of Health estimates that achieving our goal, reducing soot pollution by replacing highly-polluting No. 6 and No. 4 heating oils to the cleanest available fuels, will result in over 120 lives saved each year and prevent hundreds of emergency room visits and hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.  Approximately 1,500 buildings still need to complete conversions by the end of the year, and, roughly 2,000 permits for No. 6 oil are set to expire before March 2014, representing 232 tons of soot pollution.  Here’s an astonishing fact – only 1% of all buildings in NYC use these heavily polluting heating oils, yet burning these oils creates more soot than all of the cars and trucks in NYC combined.  The problem is grave, but the solution is within grasp. Read More »

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New York City’s Air Is Well On Its Way To Becoming Cleaner Than Ever

NYC Clean Heat is halfway to achieving its goal of reducing harmful heating oil soot pollution in New York City by 50 percent by the end of 2013.

The NYC Clean Heat program experienced tremendous growth in 2012. The Mayoral announcement in June 2012 marked the official transition from the pilot phase to full implementation of the NYC Clean Heat program, which aims to clean the air in New York City by helping buildings convert from highly-polluting No. 6 and No. 4 heating oils to the cleanest available fuels. The heating oils used in one percent of New York City buildings create more soot pollution than all the cars and trucks in the City combined – that’s why upgrading these buildings to cleaner heating fuel is the single largest step New Yorkers can take to solve local air pollution.

The goal of NYC Clean Heat is to cut heating oil soot pollution in half by the end of 2013. NYC’s Department of Health estimates that achieving this goal will result in over 120 lives saved each year and prevent hundreds of emergency room visits and hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

I’ve been a part of the NYC Clean Heat team for almost two years now, and I can tell you that I am floored by the progress we’ve made. For instance: 

  • By the end of 2012, over 1,200 boilers – well beyond the number of conversions the regulations required – have switched to natural gas or ultra-low sulfur No. 2 (some of the cleanest available fuels), and over 2,000 additional boilers in line to convert.
  • These 1,200 conversions have resulted in over 150 tons of reduction of soot pollution, or particulate matter (PM2.5), which is equivalent to removing over 800,000 light-duty passenger vehicles from the road for 1 year. That’s over 13 billion miles travelled!
  • NYC Clean Heat won the 2013 Citizen Budget Commission’s Award for Public Service Innovation.

Why is all of this important? Approximately 1,500 buildings still need to complete conversions in 2013. Also, roughly 2,000 permits for No. 6 oil are set to expire before March 2014, representing 232 tons of soot pollution. Because this week is National Public Health Week, we are more aware than ever of what reducing air pollution in New York City will mean. NOW is the time to take action. Read More »

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