While many NYC building owners and managers have committed to reduce energy waste in their properties, promote efficiency, and strive for a greener city and planet, the sweeping nine-bill Climate Mobilization Act passed in May of 2019 and taking effect this year will have the real estate industry scrambling to get with the program -- and to avoid the steep financial penalties for noncompliance.
How Did We Get Here?
According to Steven Cohen, principal engineer with SC Associates in Manhattan, 70% of New York City’s carbon emissions come from its buildings. Much of this output is a result of older infrastructure, and the reliance of systems in the city’s built environment on fossil fuels, as well as heavy HVAC use in summer and winter. While on one hand New York’s efficiencies of scale and well-used mass transit reduce its total carbon footprint, its sheer density is responsible for the substantial impact that buildings have on the environment -- which is why the Climate Mobilization Act focuses on buildings specifically.
There’s another reason for the legislation’s focus on buildings: bureaucracy. According to environmental advocates working with the city to push back against federal decimation of climate policy and a less aggressive agenda at the state level, buildings are the one impactful area fully under the city’s jurisdiction. New York City has doubled down on its commitment to sustainability, passing what has been characterized by Committee for Environmental Protection Chair Costa Constantinides as “The single largest carbon reduction effort in any city, anywhere.”
What Are the New Laws?