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PR- 438-07
December 3, 2007


Standard for Safe Use and Installation of Energy-Efficient Microturbine Systems Will Enable Owners to Participate in PlaNYC Goal of Increasing Clean Power Generation

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a new rule setting the country's first standard for the safe use and installation of microturbine systems in residential and commercial buildings. Microturbines are highly efficient turbine generators that recover and reuse the wasted heat of their own combustion process, after producing electricity and heat for a building, to provide energy for other building operations. By reusing heat that would otherwise be exhausted into the atmosphere, microturbines greatly increase the usable energy produced by fossil fuels, reduce carbon emissions, and provide building owners opportunities for operational cost savings. The new rule was published in today's City Record and takes effect immediately.

"I want to thank the Cogeneration Task Force, lead by Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, for the serious attention they've given this issue and for coming up with a rule that will allow for the use of microturbines in buildings here in New York and to ensure that they are safely and properly installed," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This rule will help us to meet our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide by 30% between now and 2030, and it will help spur the real estate and development communities to build more efficient, greener projects moving forward."

Buildings in New York City generate 79% of the city's greenhouse gas emissions. By supplying on-site power generation to buildings, microturbine systems provide an energy-efficient supplement to power plants, New York City's conventional power supply. Estimates show, for a given amount of fossil fuel, microturbines generate 70 to 80 percent of its usable energy, whereas only 30 to 35% of the energy produced by power plants is usable.

"Microturbines allow buildings to generate a portion of their own electricity in a clean and efficient manner. Owners who take advantage of microturbine technology will help distribute clean power generation throughout the five boroughs, which will in part address the clean energy needs of New York's dense urban community," said Buildings Commissioner Lancaster.  "Through our public-private partnership formed under the Cogeneration Task Force, we have set a standard for the safe use and installation of micrortubine systems where no standard existed before. We look forward to continuing our partnership to develop safe regulations for next-generation technology that will make New York City more sustainable."

"The Fire Department is proud to have been part of the Cogeneration Task Force that has reviewed and approved the use of microturbine systems," said Fire Commissioner Scoppetta. "This new technology offers improved energy efficiency in buildings, while maintaining our city's high standards for public safety."

The market for on-site power generation technology has expanded in recent years as residential and commercial building owners demanded new ways to lower building operational costs and provide back-up energy in the case of power losses. While regulations exist for microturbine systems used in manufacturing buildings, no major US city has regulated the safe use and installation of microturbines in residential and commercial buildings until now. The new rule enables building owners to take advantage of microturbine technology, which will help the City reach its PlaNYC goal of expanding clean distributed power generation citywide.

"The use of microturbines to generate electricity on site at commercial and residential buildings benefits us all," said Real Estate Board of New York President Steven Spinola.  "Because of the efficiency of these systems, New Yorkers will breathe cleaner air and building owners will save on operating costs.  We can also add needed electric generation capacity without further taxing the transmission and distribution systems."

"Distributed generation of energy is crucial to making New York a greener and more sustainable city," said Douglas Durst, Co-President of The Durst Organization. "By producing electricity on site and capturing waste heat to make hot water, microturbines are critical to increasing the efficiency of buildings and reducing the City's carbon foot print. I thank Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayors Skyler and Doctoroff and the Buildings and Fire Department for their cooperation and foresight and look forward to working with them on implementing this new rule."

"Today's announcement by Mayor Bloomberg represents another important step in moving towards increased use of co-generated electricity in our homes and offices.  In the coming years, all new developments should be using this more efficient and cleaner way to cool and heat our buildings," said Ashok Gupta, Air & Energy Program Director, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Under the new rule, microturbine systems approved by nationally recognized testing laboratories can be installed at residential and commercial buildings in various locations, including within weatherproof enclosures at grade or on roofs and within mechanical rooms built with 2-hour fire-resistance rated walls.  To install approved microturbine systems, a building owner must receive clearance from the utility company and file an application with the Buildings Department. Once a permit is obtained and the system is installed, an owner must obtain a permit from the Fire Department to operate it.


Stu Loeser/John Gallagher   (212) 788-2958

Kate Lindquist   (Department of Buildings)
(212) 566-3473

Frank Gribbon   (Fire)
(718) 999-2025

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