Selected tags: NYC Clean Heat

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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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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Saving Lives By Upgrading Buildings

NYC Government, Private Sector and Civic Groups Collaborate to Cut NYC’s Soot Pollution from Heating Oil 50% by 2013

At a press conference in the Bronx today, EDF stood with leaders in government, finance and real estate to launch an unprecedented partnership to upgrade thousands of buildings in New York City to clean heating fuel and greater efficiency, with the goal of cutting soot pollution in the most polluted neighborhoods.

EDF President Fred Krupp said “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.”

This project can only set such ambitious goals – and win – because the right stakeholders are at the table to get it done.  Everyone is doing their part: 

  • Government is setting background regulations in a way that gives buildings flexibility on how to achieve the pollution reductions;
  • Real estate leaders (from supers to landlords and managers) are “doing the math” for their buildings to find the most cost-effective path to solutions that both cut heating costs and reduce pollution;
  • Utilities and fuel providers are expanding their services to deliver a wider range of cleaner fuels — from low-sulfur oil to biodiesel and natural gas to energy efficiency upgrades; 
  • Banks , entrepreneurs and local government are stepping up to provide financing to buildings that need it in order to swap equipment that can handle the cleaner fuels; and
  • EDF (and other non-profits) are organizing reams of data to be actionable by government and the private sector, doing outreach at the community level and making the health and business case.

In fact, today’s announcement puts almost $100 million on the table to help buildings take advantage of clean fuels and technologies.  This financing, made possible by  JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Citibank, Hudson Valley Bank, the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation, and the Community Preservation Corporation, will target low- and moderate- income buildings.

Leading up to this announcement, this teamwork has already resulted in 450 buildings upgraded, even before the launch.  It’s one of the largest clean energy projects for buildings anywhere.  We expect over a thousand more by the end of the year; and by targeting the most polluting buildings, we will cut pollution from heating oil in half by the end of next year.

Buildings from the legendary Beresford on Central Park West, to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx are on track.  I believe that this collaboration is a powerful model for cities around the world.  By bringing together government, real estate, finance, utilities, advocates and community leaders, we’re finding practical solutions that work for health, for the planet and for today’s economy.

As New Yorkers, 80% of our carbon footprint is the result of the energy used in our buildings.  Mega-cities around the world are huge ecosystems of buildings: imagine if we could take this model of collaboration to scale, across the U.S. and the world.  Next week, leaders are gathering in Rio to work on global solutions to help save the planet.  I hope they look to what we’ve accomplished, by working together, here in New York City.

For more information about Clean Heat, see NYC Clean Heat’s webpage and EDF’s website describing the background and progress so far.

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