- The Urban Green Council, the New York affiliate of the U.S. Green Building Council, has released a plan for a 20% reduction in energy use across the city's largest buildings by 2030. The goals are laid out in the council's 80x50 Buildings Partnership's "Blueprint for Efficiency." It pertains to buildings larger than 25,000 square feet, which constitutes about 57% of the city's built area.
- The blueprint contains 21 points of action to achieve that goal, in addition to the greater goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
- The plan was devised with input from more than 70 New York stakeholders from a variety of industries: real estate, government, nonprofit, labor and energy. Signatories include the Natural Resources Defense Council, New York League of Conservation Voters, Rent Stabilization Association, Sidewalk Labs, energy company Consolidated Edison and developer Vornado.
As the most populated city in the country and one with more than 50,000 buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet, New York carries a heavy weight when it comes to carbon emissions. In fact, the report indicates that 67% of the city's carbon emissions come from buildings.
The partnership focuses on collaboration to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. The document's statement of support says that signatories "accept the core ideas expressed here, even though some may not agree with the specifics of certain recommendations."
Key elements of the proposal include devising a New York-centric metric to accurately compare buildings' energy efficiency and requiring less efficient buildings to do more to reduce their energy use than those that are already more efficient. The partnership also recommends that government should lead the way, so city-owned buildings over 10,000 square feet should reduce energy use 20% by 2025, not the public's goal of 2030.
In addition to improving buildings' carbon footprints and helping owners find the lowest cost way to compliance, the plan aims for equitable implementation of the action items and includes affordable housing considerations. The report explains that affordable housing owners — as well as some nonprofit building owners such as churches or schools — sometimes have tight margins so making energy efficiency improvements is particularly expensive and difficult. The plan recommends offering those owners greater assistance through easier access to project financing and other support programs. The report also recommends reclassifying energy efficiency improvements so the costs do not get passed down to residents in affordable housing.