Air pollution is one of the most significant environmental threats facing New York City, contributing to approximately 6 percent of deaths in the city each year. Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in New York City-one of the primary pollutants tracked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-causes more than 3,000 deaths, 2,000 hospital admissions for lung and heart conditions, and approximately 6,000 emergency department visits for asthma in children and adults annually.
Just 1 percent of all buildings in the city produce 86 percent of the total soot pollution from buildings-more than all the cars and trucks in New York City combined. They do this by burning the dirtiest grades of heating fuel available, known as residual oil, or #6 and #4 heating oil.
In April of 2011, upon the release of the PlaNYC update, Mayor Bloomberg finalized a New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rule (in PDF) that will phase out the use of two highly polluting forms of heating oil-Number 6 oil (No. 6) and Number 4 oil (No. 4). The regulations were designed to balance near-term pollution reduction with minimizing costs for buildings. Details are below:
Effective immediately, no new boiler or burner installations will be permitted to use No. 6 or No. 4 oil, and instead must use one of the cleanest fuels, such as ultra-low sulfur Number 2 oil (No. 2), biodiesel, natural gas, or steam.
Beginning July 1, 2012, existing buildings that use No. 6 oil must convert to a cleaner fuel (low-sulfur No. 4 oil or cleaner) before their three-year certificate of operation expires. This will result in a full phaseout of No. 6 oil by mid-2015.
By 2030 or upon boiler or burner replacement, whichever is sooner, all buildings must convert to one of the cleanest fuels.
Compliance waivers will be considered through the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
Eliminating these "heavy" oils and transitioning to the cleanest fuels will save thousands of lives over the next two decades.
For details, see DEP's page on Heating Oil. Read the press releases below for more information.
NYC Clean Heat
The NYC Clean Heat program aims to accelerate the transition from heavy heating oil to the cleanest fuels so that New Yorkers can experience these health benefits much sooner. The program offers building owners and managers technical assistance from a team of energy professionals, as well as improved access to financing and incentives. For more information, visit NYC Clean Heat.