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
Since the New York Public Service Commission (Commission) opened its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding in the spring to modernize the state’s electricity system, a lot has happened. Namely, New York utilities are already working to align themselves with the broad objectives outlined in the REV proceeding. Here is an overview of efforts by the state’s big players:
CON EDISON – Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management Program
Growth in electricity demand in parts of Brooklyn and Queens is taxing infrastructure and will require action from Con Edison to ensure reliability. Con Edison could pursue a costly $1 billion substation upgrade to meet this rising demand. Instead, the utility is slashing needed investment by half and plans to invest around $500 million – $305 million in traditional utility investments and $200 million clean energy resources – to address the area’s growing energy needs as part of its Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management program. Measures include:
- Demand Response (a tool that pays customers to conserve energy when the electric grid is stressed): A new demand response system from energy services provider Alstom, which would allow 3.3 million customers to be compensated for the value they provide to the grid.
- Energy Storage: Battery-based energy storage for electricity produced when electricity demand is low (off-peak hours) for use when demand is high (peak periods), easing the burden on the electric grid at those times.
- Microgrids (which generate electricity nearby or on-site where it’s consumed): The development of microgrids to improve resiliency and enable the aforementioned demand response system.
- Electric Grid Resilience and Optimization: Expanded use of smart meters, which provide detailed electricity use data throughout the day, will improve response time to power outages and give customers more control over their energy usage.
Clean 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