New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has unveiled his plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Big Apple. The most aggressive is a mandate requiring nearly 14,500 buildings to invest in energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, per the Washington Post.
The mayor’s plans call for owners of buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to invest in “more efficient heating and cooling systems, insulation and hot-water heaters in the years ahead,” wrote Washington Post’s Brady Dennis and Kayla Epstein.
He has targeted buildings 25,000 square feet or larger for his new energy-savings initiative because those buildings account for nearly a quarter of New York City’s entire greenhouse gas emissions. Being able to cut those emissions would help de Blasio accomplish his goal of reducing emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by the year 2050.
This mandate will help define the future of the city and its efforts to mitigate climate change. Mayor de Blasio is determined to position New York City as a leader in greenhouse gas reduction and will prioritize reduction efforts regardless of the actions in Washington, D.C. Earlier this year, he signed an executive order reaffirming the city’s commitment to the international Paris climate accord.
“New York is not alone in working to curb greenhouse gas emissions,” wrote Dennis and Epstein. “After [president] Trump’s announcement that he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate pact, numerous governors, mayors, and businesses independently pledged to push forward with emissions reductions. A group called Climate Mayors — which has 377 members, including de Blasio — committed to working toward the goals laid out in the Paris agreement.”
New York isn’t overlooking the complications that such a dramatic proposal creates. The mayor created a fine structure for buildings that don’t comply with the new emissions requirements. A 1 million square foot building not meeting the required standards could pay as much as $2 million in penalties every year. Despite common goals across government and businesses to reduce greenhouse gases, it’s these fines that may bring opposition to the initiative. However, the mayor and other related offices acknowledge the delicacy of what they want to accomplish.
“These proposals require careful analysis, discussion and debate,” said John Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “The manner in which these goals are pursued will determine whether or not the future of our city is comprised of mini-storage facilities and buildings without windows or 21st-century energy-efficient buildings that yield good jobs and affordable housing.” It will be critical to find the right balance between green goals and business goals in order to create successful programs and initiatives.
De Blasio’s plans for New York City are just one of many examples of cities and communities across the country - like Chicago, Houston, and Boston - taking on more active roles in curbing emissions and becoming more environmentally conscious. To see how some of Lucid’s partners are succeeding at the same goals, read our case studies that detail how organizations from all industries are becoming more energy efficient.