The New York City Council has an excellent environmental track record, and I’m pleased to say that most recently it has passed a group of bills tackling energy efficiency in buildings, adding to its stellar standing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio this week signed a package of laws developed by the City Council that address energy efficiency in thousands of buildings citywide. Buildings account for nearly three-quarters of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, which makes buildings crucial to New York City’s goal of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. In fact, the mayor’s office estimates that these bills will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 250,000 metric tons throughout the city, and create an estimated 100 jobs by spurring retrofits in 16,000 buildings. I attended the bill signing on October 31st, and am proud to say that Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been working closely with both the mayor’s office and the City Council to get to this point, along with our partners, the New York League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Urban Green Council.
These new laws – which affect 57 percent of New York City’s buildings (a higher percentage than any other U.S. city) – are important because they mandate that buildings track their energy use. Tracking use will inform necessary energy-efficiency upgrades that will have lasting impacts and ultimately improve the city’s environment and New Yorkers’ public health. Read More
New York City may not be the place that comes to mind when you think of clean air, but NYC has done tremendous work in improving air quality – and now our neighbors in upstate Westchester County are following suit.
Seeing the positive health impacts from the phase-out of highly polluting heating oil in NYC, the Westchester County Legislature yesterday approved a resolution to phase out No. 6 and No. 4 oil in their buildings over time – No. 6 heating oil by 2018, and No. 4 oil by 2020.
These oils emit fine particular matter (PM2.5) and harmful chemicals like sulfur dioxide. When burned, they can become lodged in the lungs and worsen respiratory and cardiovascular issues. There were only a few hundred such buildings in Westchester county – compared to thousands in NYC – but that was still too many for Westchester officials to rest on their laurels. The county legislature went to work cleaning their air, and that work is paying off. Read More
It has been about six years since an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) staffer first looked out the window in our New York City office, saw black smoke coming from a building’s chimney, and wondered what it was. This concern led to EDF’s Bottom of the Barrel report, which determined the smoke was caused by No. 6 heating oil. A highly polluting fuel source, No. 6 heating oil is hugely harmful to public health and the environment – not to mention, bad for building efficiency. This led to a citywide regulation to phase out No. 6 and No. 4 heating oils, and to create a program called NYC Clean Heat to help buildings switch to cleaner fuels.
And now, New York City is free of No. 6 oil.
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that all 5,300 buildings that were registered as burning No. 6 heating oil in 2011 have converted to a cleaner fuel. This historic moment for New York City means cleaner air (soot pollution has decreased more than 50 percent) and a healthier city: 210 premature deaths and 540 hospitalizations will now be avoided yearly. It’s not often you see an environmental issue that is so quantifiable, or one where you can say it’s been completely achieved. Read More
Building on the momentum of Climate Week NYC and the Pope’s visit to New York last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today the launch of an ambitious new program called the NYC Retrofit Accelerator.
Tasked with upgrading 20,000 (or 15 percent) of New York City’s private buildings – 40 percent of which will be low-income housing – the Retrofit Accelerator will provide resources for buildings owners and managers to improve their energy and water efficiency. Addressing energy use in buildings is key to meeting the city’s ambitious carbon reduction goals, as buildings account for roughly 75 percent of the city’s carbon emissions. It is estimated that the Retrofit Accelerator will result in cutting approximately 940,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by 2025. The city has said this is the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.
If this program sounds familiar, that’s because de Blasio revealed Retrofit Accelerator at Climate Week NYC last year as part of the broader One City Built to Last plan. Today’s announcement marks the formal launch of this program, an exciting expansion of the successful NYC Clean Heat model, which resulted in New York’s cleanest air since the early 1960s. Read More
Every year on Earth Day, people around the world show their appreciation of our planet and pledge their commitment to protecting it. Here in NYC, there are events at every scale – from composting demonstrations to announcements of citywide sustainability plans. Mayor Bill de Blasio took the opportunity to announce his plan for ‘A Strong and Just City’, called OneNYC. Mayor de Blasio was elected on a platform of equality across the city – uniting what he called the ‘two New Yorks’ – and this plan shows his commitment to that vision.
OneNYC builds on the success of former Mayor Bloomberg’s sustainability plan, PlaNYC, but expands the focus to citywide equality. By including issues like education and affordable housing, Mayor de Blasio has reaffirmed his commitment to equity in New York City, while also setting ambitious goals to meet climate change challenges.
Some of the major goals outlined in OneNYC consist of:
- Helping 800,000 New Yorkers move above the poverty line by 2025;
- Zero waste sent to landfills by 2030; and
- An 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
We already know the innovative program NYC Clean Heat is yielding tremendous results: soot pollution from buildings in New York City has fallen by more than 50 percent since 2011, preventing an estimated 800 deaths and 2,000 hospital visits due to lung and cardiovascular diseases annually. That hard work by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the City of New York, and our partners has now been recognized –again.
The Association of Energy Service Professionals has given NYC Clean Heat an award for Outstanding Achievement in Non-Residential Program Design & Implementation. We are honored to receive this award from such a distinguished organization and believe it shows that a program like NYC Clean Heat is both necessary and replicable.
EDF partnered with the City to create NYC Clean Heat in 2012, which forged a diverse coalition of the financial, real estate, and non-profit communities, to launch a $100 million financing program to help phase out dirty heating oils. The program helped 4,000 buildings – half of them affordable housing – convert to cleaner, more efficient heating oils. Read More