The NYC Building Energy Efficiency Mandates

New York City

The Cleantech Corridor meeting highlighted the Bloomberg administration’s recently passed laws that will not only mandate energy efficiency measures but require that they be publicly available over the internet.  While other jurisdictions have passed related legislation, the scope of the NYC regulations combined with the number of buildings and size of the built environment it encompasses are expected to have a catalytic effects elsewhere.  The goal is part of the effort to achieve a 30 percent reduction in New York City’s annual greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. Since nearly 80% 0f NY’s emissions result from the energy use in buildings, these energy efficiency mandates are the cornerstone of that initiative.

The several laws that are part of the New York City Greener, Greater Buildings Plan include Energy Benchmarking of Buildings, Energy Audits and Retrofits, as well as Lighting Upgrades and Sub-Metering.  Along with these requirements was announced a Green Building Revolving Loan Fund that will be used to fund energy efficiency retrofits, with loan repayments designed to be less than the energy savings so that building owners can reap immediate benefits.

Two aspects of the initiative warrant particular attention.  The first is the role of public disclosure of the building’s energy benchmarks.  It is intended, as the program rolls out, that internet access to websites that depict the energy usage of specific buildings (both energy and water per square foot) will become a driver in the real estate marketplace as buildings which are energy efficient versus energy gluttons will become public knowledge.

Secondly is the emphasis on lighting.  Lighting currently constitutes 18% on average of buildings energy usage in NYC, meaning that lighting alone contributes 15% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Given the combination of new lighting technologies which, in some cases, can reduce energy consumption by 90% for the same illumination output, with the fact that New York City has the greatest concentration of lighting designers in the world, a cauldron for green innovation, development and implementation is brewing.

For more information, see Greener, Greater Buildings Plan.

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