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May 23, 2011


Farrell Sklerov  (718) 595-6600

Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Buildings Unveil New Program to Streamline Approval Process For Upgrading Boilers

New Process Saves Building Owners Up to $3,000 Per Boiler Conversion; Clean Heat Campaign Announcement Coincides with First Day That All New Boilers Permitted in New York City Must Burn the Cleanest Type of Heating Oil

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway and Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today implemented a new program to streamline the approval process for upgrading boilers to bring them into compliance with new heating oil regulations. The new regulations, adopted in April, require that buildings phase out the use of Nos. 4 and 6 heating oil over the next 20 years at the nearly 10,000 buildings that still use these dirtier types of fuel. The 10,000 buildings that still burn Nos. 4 and 6 heating oil comprise just 1% of the city's building stock, but generate more annual soot pollution than all cars and trucks in the city combined. The new approval process for converting boilers to cleaner fuels eliminates duplicative paperwork and simplifies pre-upgrade design filings, saving building owners time and money. The new streamlined process is expected to save building owners approximately $3,000 per boiler conversion from No. 6 to No. 4 heating oil, reducing costs from roughly $10,000 to $7,000. The Department of Buildings will continue to inspect all conversions to ensure that the conversions are properly made.

"This streamlined approval process will reduce the cost and accelerate the process for building owners to convert to cleaner heating fuels, and eliminate bureaucratic redundancies," said Deputy Mayor Goldsmith. "Today's announcement represents the best of both NYC Simplicity and PlaNYC, making City operations more efficient and advancing us toward a greener, greater New York."

"Improving the type of fuel burned to heat New York City buildings is one of the single biggest steps we are taking to improve our city's air quality over the next 20 years," said Commissioner Holloway. "Since conversion comes with some costs, we have worked with the Department of Buildings to streamline permitting requirements to make it easier and less expensive to make the switch, without compromising quality or safety. The less expensive, streamlined process we are implementing today should incentivize more building owners to comply with the new rules even faster — which means better air quality for all New Yorkers."

"This new program not only simplifies the permitting process, but also reduces the overall costs of upgrading boilers, encouraging property owners to comply with the new regulations sooner rather than later," said Buildings Commissioner LiMandri. "We have been closely working with the Department of Environmental Protection to streamline these processes and make it easier for owners to comply with the new heating oil regulations. I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Goldsmith, Commissioner Holloway and the City Council for helping make all of this possible."

"The Clean Heat campaign will help buildings across the city to convert from heavy heating oil to the cleanest fuels as fast as they possibly can," said David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. "City government is doing its part to incentivize early action by streamlining the permitting process. We've made it easier for every building using dirty oil today to become part of the solution instead."

"The Oil Heating Industry is pleased that the City has listened to our business concerns and has cut some of the ‘red tape' which surrounded this process," said John Maniscalco, President and CEO of the New York Oil Heating Association. "The streamlining of the applications will save time and should be a cost-saver all around."

The changes coincide with a significant milestone: Beginning today, all new boilers permitted by the city will have to burn No. 2 oil, the cleanest form of heating oil. This step is just the first beneficial change since the adoption of new regulations was announced when Mayor Bloomberg presented an update to PlaNYC last month. By 2015, the burning of No. 6 heating oil will be phased out, followed by the phase out of No. 4 oil by 2030. Burning these two dirtier types of oil emits large amounts of soot, fine particulate matter and nitrous oxide into the air that New Yorkers breathe, decreasing life expectancy and contributing to asthma and other lung and heart conditions.

The new simplified program, developed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Buildings (DOB), will help incentivize early compliance with the new rule by reducing the number of documents applicants need to file with each agency. From now on, licensed boiler installers will be able to submit one unified form to both DEP and DOB and certify that the fuel grade conversions were documented and the necessary work was properly performed without the need of more complex design submissions. The new simplified process will save building owners on average 80% of the upgrade design costs, approximately $3,000 per boiler. Additionally, the joint-agency program will speed up the permitting process, allowing permits to be obtained in days instead of weeks. Owners will still be required to pay for the physical work of converting their boilers and DOB will inspect the completed work to confirm that it was done properly.

The new heating oil regulations reduce emissions from the approximately 10,000 boilers in larger New York City buildings that burn grades Nos. 4 and 6 oil, the dirtiest heating oil types available in New York. Nos. 4 and 6 heating oil have significantly higher levels of sulfur, nickel, and other pollutants compared to other available heating fuels. The new regulations, when fully implemented, will require that all boilers in New York City be required to burn low-sulfur Number 2 oil, natural gas, or any fuel that is as clean or cleaner. Only 1% of city buildings still burn Nos. 4 and 6 heating oil but they account for more soot pollution than all the cars and trucks in New York City combined. To minimize the cost of upgrading boilers on building owners, compliance with the new regulations is being implemented in three phases.

  1. Starting today, May 23, any newly-installed boilers will be required to only burn low sulfur No. 2 oil, natural gas, or the equivalent from an emissions standpoint.
  2. By 2015, existing boilers will be required to switch from No. 6 oil to the new low sulfur No. 4 heating oil, or to an equivalent cleaner fuel.
  3. By 2030, existing boilers that have not been replaced must be modified to meet the equivalent emissions of burning low sulfur No. 2 oil or natural gas.

Upon full implementation, these regulations will reduce the amount of fine particles emitted from heating buildings by at least 63 percent, and could lower the overall concentration of fine particles in the City's air from all sources by 5 percent. Increased exposure to fine particulate matter is known to be linked to lung and heart conditions and to contribute to asthma and a significant decrease life expectancy. The Health Department estimates that these air quality improvements could prevent some 200 deaths, 100 hospitalizations, and 300 emergency room visits for diseases caused by air pollution each year. The initiative will reduce carbon dioxide by approximately one million metric tons, or over 3 percent of the total needed to meet the PlaNYC target of reducing the city's greenhouse gases 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The enactment of the regulations builds upon earlier steps taken to decrease emissions from boilers, including a 2010 state law that reduces the sulfur content in Number 2 heating oil by 2012 and Local Law 43, enacted by the City Council and signed by Mayor Bloomberg in August 2010, which created a new low sulfur Number 4 heating oil. The rules fulfill one of the original 127 initiatives in PlaNYC, the City's long-term plan for a greener, greater New York.

The regulations are the product of dozens of meetings with environmental, real estate, utility and oil industry stakeholders that were held to craft regulations that substantially improve public health in an achievable timeframe. Though all landlords must comply with the new proposals once enacted, property owners that can demonstrate a severe financial hardship will be able to apply for a compliance schedule by which they will fully comply with the new regulations through milestones that will allow for more cost-effective implementation.

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