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Big Buildings Hurt the Climate New York City Hopes to Change That

New York City Hopes to Change That. To fight climate change, the city is forcing the buildings, like the Empire State Building and Trump Tower. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions

New York City is about to embark on an ambitious plan to fight climate change that would force thousands of large buildings, like the Empire State Building and Trump Tower. To sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Legislation expected 40 percent reduction of emission

The legislation, expected to be passed by the City Council on Thursday, would set emission caps for many different types of buildings, with the goal of achieving a 40 percent overall reduction of emissions by 2030. Buildings that do not meet the caps could face steep fines.

The legislation, expected to be passed by the City Council on Thursday. Itwould set emission caps for many different types of buildings, with the goal of achieving a 40 percent overall reduction of emissions by 2030. Buildings that do not meet the caps could face steep fines.

The Problem Of Climate Change

The effort comes as the nation debates the merits and necessity of the Green New Deal, the congressional proposal to combat climate change and create new high-paying jobs in clean energy industries. New York, among other states, has launched a number of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. 

But according to John Mandyck, the chief executive of the Urban Green Council, an organisation that includes real estate developers and environmental groups among others. New York City’s move may be unprecedented. This is despite the fact that executives in the real estate industry oppose it, in part due to the costs involved in meeting the new targets.

Mr. Mandyck addressed the issue

“This is huge,” Mr. Mandyck said. “I haven’t seen a city that has tackled climate change head-on in a way like this, setting specific targets for buildings and providing a path forward for how they can comply through innovative policy tools.”

Buildings are one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions because they require a lot of energy for lighting, heating, and cooling and are frequently inefficient, allowing heat to escape in the winter and cool air to enter in the summer through outdated windows or insufficient insulation. According to a 2017 greenhouse gas emissions inventory, buildings were responsible for 67 percent of the city’s emissions.

The legislation, which is a component of the Climate Mobilization Act, was introduced after years of unsuccessful attempts to persuade, bribe, or incentivize building owners to make voluntary reductions in energy use.

Mayor Bill de Blasio in action

Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared that he will sign the legislation and that his administration closely collaborated with the Council during the bill’s drafting. Last week, de Blasio described the legislation as “very aggressive” during a separate news conference. The mayor has considered running for president and has looked for ways to establish himself as a national leader in the advancement of progressive causes, such as the fight against climate change.

“It’s going to revolutionize our ability to reduce emissions through our buildings which are really our No. 1 problem here in New York City,” the mayor said.

Building owners will incur significant costs. The cumulative cost to building owners to make the upgrades required to meet the caps, according to Mark Chambers, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, would exceed $4 billion. Eventually, he continued, building owners would recover those costs through lower operating costs.

The caps did not apply to a wide range of structures, including places of worship, apartment buildings with rent-controlled units, and other forms of affordable housing. These buildings must implement a number of energy-saving measures, such as insulating pipes, but these actions fall far short of the expensive steps necessary to meet the caps.

While real estate industry executives support reducing emissions, they feel that too many building types received exemptions, which places an unfair burden on the remaining structures to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas output.

In Jackson Heights, Queens, there are four co-op apartment buildings with a total of 437 units. Ed Ermler is the board president of those buildings. The target that the city 
has set is still “totally unattainable,” he claimed, despite having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years to install computerised boiler controls and other systems to make the Roosevelt Terrace buildings, built in the 1950s, more energy efficient.


“To get down to even 20 percent from where I am today, with the technology that exists, there’s nothing more that I can do,” Mr. Ermler said. “It’s not like there’s this magic wand.”

He said that the majority of apartment owners in the complex are over 65 years old. “Most are on a fixed income and I have to be very cognizant about anything that I do because I don’t want to put an undue burden on people that can’t afford it.


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