The passage of LL86 and changing paradigms about the environmental benefits of dense cities set the stage for the development of PlaNYC (in PDF) in 2007, which took sustainability from the building scale to the city scale. PlaNYC addressed how New York City could absorb almost a million more residents by 2030 without overtaxing its infrastructure and resources, while maintaining quality of life. Doing more with less was a key strategy, and therefore greening the city's buildings and improving energy efficiency emerged as important initiatives.
Reducing citywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent by 2030 was PlaNYC's culminating goal. In the development stages, it was first necessary to analyze from where the city's emissions came, and a surprising result emerged: in 2007, roughly 75 percent of New York City's GHG emissions came from emissions attributable to the energy used in buildings, almost twice the national average, proportionally. This was, and still is, because most New Yorkers walk or use public transportation instead of driving, resulting in relatively little emissions from cars. The city's industrial sector is also modestly sized. What remained were the buildings, and the need to make them more efficient. Moreover, since New York City is an older city, PlaNYC projected that more than 85 percent of its 2030 building stock would be buildings that already exist today.
PlaNYC was updated in 2011 to include energy efficiency policies that had emerged since 2007. Interwoven in the 10 PlaNYC goals were numerous cross-cutting initiatives that include elements of green building, highlighting the important role of buildings in making New York City sustainable. A list of these initiatives and detailed information is available in the Green Building section in the PlaNYC 2011 Update (in PDF).
One major green building initiative was to strengthen the Construction Codes (a family of codes including Building, Energy, Fire, Plumbing and Mechanical Codes) of New York City. The construction codes are the DNA of buildings, controlling how new buildings are built and how renovations are done. Improving the codes has been shown to be the most cost-effective way to broadly improve building performance, because the costs incurred are incremental add-ons to work already being done. The codes also have the broadest reach since they impact every renovation and new construction project. Visit Greening the City's Codes and Regulations for more information.