April, the New York City Council adopted the Climate Mobilization Act, a historic bill designed to make drastic changes to the city’s carbon footprint.

The legislation, which heralds the largest carbon reduction measures of any city in the world, is part of the city’s own ‘Green New Deal’ that will roll out over the next five years. The legislation is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 80×50 initiative, which aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.

In 2005, the city was responsible for 62 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses. This number was reduced to 52 million metric tons in 2016, In order to meet the 80×50 goals, the city will need to eliminate another 40 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses.

New Requirements for New York Buildings

It’s estimated that more than 50,000 buildings in New York City will be affected by the Climate Mobilization Act

One of the most aggressive requirements will affect buildings with more than 25,000 square feet, such as the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, will be required to conduct retrofits in order to be more energy-efficient, such as installing new windows and insulation in order to reduce energy loss. Although these buildings make up approximately 2% of the city’s real estate, they create nearly half of New York’s emissions.

By 2030, these buildings will be required to reduce their emissions 40 percent from 2005 levels, and by 2050, emissions will need to be reduced 80%. Violators would be subject to steep fines for excess emissions.

Other legislation will add solar panels, wind turbines, or gardens, known as green roofs, to smaller residential and non-residential buildings, as additional ways to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

Resources to Assist with the Change

In addition to instituting new requirements, in the next year, New York City will create an Office of Energy and Emissions Performance as a new wing of the Department of Buildings. The goal of this agency will be to oversee the Climate Mobilization Act’s implementation, as well as to find ways to facilitate the necessary changes.

The legislation also establishes a renewable energy loan program to help building owners make the necessary improvements to their property.

Getting a Jump on New Requirements

Although the new law won’t be fully in effect until 2024, and the first major milestone is more than a decade away, building owners and landlords should start planning ahead now. For most structures, reductions in emissions will require a number of small steps to save or recapture energy where ever possible.

During routine maintenance and repairs, building owners can take steps towards reducing their carbon emissions. Simple matters, like switching to LED or compact fluorescent lamps, can save a significant amount of energy, as can updating insulation, or installing new windows, in order to prevent heating or A/C leaks. Similarly, the next time you need to update or replace your HVAC system, consider investing in a green model. Installing more precise temperature controls can reduce energy wasted on empty rooms. Finding ways to be more energy efficient will reduce a building’s overall carbon footprint.

Remember – although there will be initial compliance costs, reducing energy expenditures will save building owners a significant amount of money in the long run.

While some of these changes, such as replacing lightbulbs, will not require a permit or approval from the city, other modifications and improvements will. One of the best ways to reduce the overall cost and disruption, is to work with an experienced expediter, who can help you get the paperwork through with a minimum of fuss.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. If you have questions regarding new city requirements, contact Approvall today.