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Mayor de Blasio Launches Retrofit Accelerator, Providing Key Support for Buildings to go Green as NYC Works Toward 80X50

September 28, 2015

Free Program is a Central Piece of Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC & One City: Built to Last Green Buildings Plan – Expected Emissions Reduction Equivalent to Taking 200,000 Cars Off the Roads

Mayor Also Announces Huge Expansion of NYC Carbon Challenge to Over 250 Million Square Feet of Real Estate; Full Phase Out of Heaviest Heating Oil Thanks to NYC Clean Heat

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today the official launch of the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, which will provide free technical assistance and advisory services for building owners to go green through critical energy efficiency, water conservation, and clean energy upgrades. The program is anticipated to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by roughly one million metric tons per year by 2025, by accelerating retrofits in up to 1,000 properties per year by 2025 – the equivalent of almost 200,000 passenger vehicles taken off the roads – while saving New Yorkers an estimated $350 million a year in utility costs and generating over 400 local construction-related jobs.

“Business as usual simply won’t do when our very survival is at stake. That’s why we’ve outlined ambitious and necessary goals for a greener New York City as we work to reduce our emissions 80 percent by 2050 – and we’re ensuring that building owners have the tools they need to go green through the NYC Retrofit Accelerator,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Retrofit Accelerator will build on the incredibly successful work of the Carbon Challenge and NYC Clean Heat as we continue to push toward a stronger, more sustainable New York City.”

The NYC Retrofit Accelerator is a key step forward as the City works toward a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, with a goal of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. With buildings comprising nearly three-quarters of New York City’s emissions, Mayor de Blasio unveiled a sweeping plan last year ­– One City, Built to Last – that committed to retrofitting all public buildings with any significant energy use by 2025, and supporting (and, if needed, mandating) many private buildings to do the same. Those goals were expanded upon in OneNYC, released this spring.

Building owners can now register for the Accelerator by visiting or calling 311.

The Retrofit Accelerator will provide a dedicated team of efficiency advisors free of charge to assist building owners and operators take action, including selecting cost-saving retrofit projects for their buildings, completing the necessary permitting, acquiring financing and incentives to help cover the costs, training building staff, and completing measurement and verification of the completed measures.

The Accelerator will use the information collected by Local Laws 84 and 87 of 2009, which require buildings to measure their energy and water use annually and conduct an energy audit and retro-commissioning once every ten years, providing useful information about potential areas for efficiency improvements.

The program is geared toward buildings that are required to comply with Local Laws 84 and 87, that are still burning heavy heating oil (No. 6 or No. 4 oil), or that are participating in an NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) or NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) program; however, the Accelerator will also work with small buildings that don’t have to comply with the City’s building energy regulations in order to determine the right program to improve their efficiency.

NYC Carbon Challenge

Mayor de Blasio also announced today a major expansion of the NYC Carbon Challenge, with over 700 multifamily residential buildings joining nearly 40 major institutions in pledging to voluntarily reduce their building-based emissions by 30 percent or more within ten years. 

More than two-thirds of the 700 multifamily buildings participating in the Challenge are affordable housing or serve low-to-moderate income residents. 

Nearly 40 universities, hospitals, commercial firms, and residential property management companies have made the Carbon Challenge pledge, including 12 that have expanded their commitment to a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2025: Barnard College, Bloomberg LP, Deutsche Bank, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Google, the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Medical Center, NewYork Presbyterian/Queens, New York University, NYU Langone Medical Center, and the School of Visual Arts.

This expansion was a key initiative in One City: Built to Last and provides a successful model for the retrofitting of buildings around the city.

In total, current participants make up more than 250 million square feet of real estate and account for nearly seven percent of citywide building-based emissions. These participants are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 515,000 metric tons (the equivalent of removing more than 100,000 passenger vehicles from the city’s roads) and save $220 million in reduced energy costs by the end of the program.

NYC Clean Heat

The Retrofit Accelerator will build on the successful program model of NYC Clean Heat in assisting private building owners; it will also continue Clean Heat’s work directly by providing assistance to owners of buildings still burning No. 4 heavy heating oil in converting to cleaner fuel.

This summer, No. 6 heating oil – the most polluting heating oil previously available in New York City – was fully phased out in New York City. Across the five boroughs, there is an unprecedented 99.8 percent compliance rate with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s regulations banning the use of No. 6 oil.

Since 2012, a total of nearly 6,000 buildings in NYC have converted from No. 6 or No. 4 oil to a cleaner fuel – with 1,500 conversions happening in the last year alone. PM 2.5 emissions from buildings that were previously burning No. 6 and No. 4 oil have been reduced by 65 percent.

Overall, citywide reductions in sulfur dioxide levels have dropped 69 percent since 2008 and citywide PM 2.5 emissions have been reduced by 23 percent – estimated to prevent roughly 600 premature deaths, 400 hospital admissions, and 1,200 emergency department visits in New York City each year.

“This is New Yorkers at their best – helping each other to fight climate change, cut costs, and clean up our air pollution, all while creating green jobs,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Building data and proven strategies all come together in the Retrofit Accelerator, while our great institutions are leading the way to cut carbon and energy costs.  Everyone wins, from kids with asthma and seniors, to construction workers and engineers. New Yorkers pulling together like this is what it will take to reach our goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.  This is what OneNYC looks like.”

“By phasing out the use of the dirtiest heating oil in New York City, the Clean Heat program has already resulted in a profound improvement in air quality,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “The program was successful because it brought together and helped to coordinate the entire marketplace, which enabled us to craft regulations with broad stakeholder support and develop a data-driven, innovative program to assist building owners in converting to cleaner fuels. This same approach can help us to increase energy efficiency in buildings and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

“HPD is dedicated to helping landlords maintain the highest level of safety and energy efficiency in the homes of all New Yorkers,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “Every resident should be afforded the peace of mind that their home is clean and safe in all respects, including the health benefit that comes with the use of energy-efficient features and green retrofitting.  We look forward to working with building owners across the city as part of this exciting new program.”

“Approximately one-third of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions come from residential buildings, making it imperative that we do more to improve the performance of our housing stock if we are to reduce the risks of climate change,” said HDC President Gary Rodney. “The new NYC retrofit accelerator will provide building owners with the tools they need to undertake retrofits to save energy and water, improvements that can help owners control operating costs, maintain affordability, and achieve broader sustainability and health goals. We are grateful to all our partners for their leadership in helping us to create not just a more sustainable city, but also a more equitable one.”

“We cannot wait any longer to lay the crucial groundwork for a sustainable future.  Clean energy upgrades can be complicated and expensive, but the City will do it’s part to help make thousands of buildings more efficient. Together, we can reach our ambitious goals to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2025,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “Going green is a great focus of ours in Brooklyn, as my Renewable and Sustainable Energy Taskforce (ReSET) identifies opportunities to make our public and private building stock more efficient and environmentally friendly. I am pleased that the NYC Retrofit Accelerator will help move our building owners toward a greener standard in a more economically attractive fashion. Additionally, I applaud stakeholders of the major academic, commercial, health care, and residential buildings which have committed themselves to cutting their emissions in half in the next decade. Mayor de Blasio is taking bold and necessary action to address climate change and resiliency for our city, and we must even bolder going forward to ensure we are truly built to last.”

"Mayor de Blasio's Retrofit Accelerator initiative and expansion of the NYC Carbon Challenge will help our City to continue building on the recent successes in reducing carbon pollution at the local level. It will also contribute to President Obama's efforts to reduce carbon pollution through his Clean Power Plan. This initiative is one more example of how, one step at a time, we can reduce carbon pollution, while lowering our families' electricity bills and spurring economic growth," said Congressman Jose Serrano.

“As Chair of the Assembly’s Renewable Energy Subcommittee, and working with the State’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, I am pleased to hear about Mayor de Blasio’s launch of the NYC Retrofit Accelerator program. This program echoes the work we are accomplishing throughout New York to grow the state’s clean energy economy, ensuring grid resilience, and increasing choice and affordability for energy consumers which includes building owners. I stand with Mayor de Blasio during this launch and look forward to working together towards One City, Built to Last,” said Assembly Member Latrice Walker, Chair of the Assembly Renewable Energy Subcommittee.

“Heavy heating oils have been responsible for a tremendous amount of air pollution across our city. As we’ve phased out the use of these fuels, we’ve already seen improvements in health outcomes for New Yorkers. However, there are still buildings that have not yet been able to convert to cleaner fuels. I’m pleased that Mayor de Blasio is building from the successful Clean Heat program to ensure we eliminate dirty heating oil once and for all,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart.

Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council Environmental Protection Committee, said, “The new retrofitting accelerator program will reduce our city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million tons over the next 10 years. Buildings are our biggest source of emissions and this program will make a significant impact on them through water conservation and energy upgrades. These types of 21 Century solutions will bring us closer toward our goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.  I thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this important issue.”

“The NYC Retrofit Accelerator is an innovative resource that will encourage energy efficient retrofits. We are excited to see such a critical piece of the 80x50 effort come to fruition,” said Real Estate Board of New York President John H. Banks, III. “Between Clean Heat’s tremendous success, the expansion of Carbon Challenge, and now the NYC Retrofit Accelerator’s launch, New York City continues to lead the world by example in regard to sustainability.” 

“The Accelerator demonstrates New York’s continued leadership in innovative approaches to meeting greenhouse gas emission goals and setting the bar for other world-class American cities,” said Shelley Poticha, Director of Urban Solutions at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“A more sustainable New York is clearly a better New York, and the Retrofit Accelerator, Clean Heat, and the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge are robust tools to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Bill Rudin, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York.

“Practical, innovative programs like NYC Clean Heat and the Retrofit Accelerator help make clean air and clean energy accessible for all New Yorkers,” said Andy Darrell, NY Regional Director of Environmental Defense Fund, a national environmental organization headquartered in New York City. “In just a few years, NYC Clean Heat delivered once-in-a-generation cuts in urban pollution – and serves as a model for cities around the world. Using a similar problem-solving approach, the NYC Retrofit Accelerator can set a global precedent for wide-scale adoption of energy efficiency in the public and private sectors.”

“The Building Energy Exchange is thrilled that our downtown Manhattan resource center will act as the central information hub for Mayor de Blasio’s Retrofit Accelerator, providing training, technology exhibits, and critical resources that will help owners, operators, and designers realize the cost-saving energy efficiency potential within their buildings,” said Richard Yancey, Executive Director of the Building Energy Exchange. “The Accelerator promises to dramatically scale efficiency retrofits and put New York City, a global leader in innovation and building technology, on a pathway to its ambitious 80x50 carbon reduction goals.”

“New York City’s Retrofit Accelerator is an exciting, new ‘win-win’ program that will help building owners and operators in practical, accessible ways to improve their properties and reduce carbon pollution,” said Susan Leeds, CEO of NYCEEC. “As the City’s financing partner, we are pleased to offer simple, affordable financial solutions to help buildings save money and go green.”

“The City’s building owners and managers hold a unique position to help reduce energy consumption and meet the goals of Mayor de Blasio’s One City Built to Last,” said Rafael E. Cestero, President and CEO of the Community Preservation Corporation. “Enacting energy efficient upgrades and retrofits will play a significant role in improving housing quality and the long-term sustainability of our city’s aging housing stock.  It’s a win for tenants, owners, and our communities. At CPC we will continue to work with our partners to help reduce energy consumption, strengthen neighborhoods, and make progress on our shared goal of creating a more affordable and sustainable city for all New Yorkers.”

“Making it easier for building owners to retrofit their buildings has a triple bottom line: reduced energy usage, lower operating costs, and affordable rents. The Retrofit Accelerator eliminates many obstacles to energy upgrades with one-stop access to financing and technical assistance for building owners, following the outreach model of the Neighborhood Preservation Helpdesk. This is an important step for New York City in meeting its ambitious carbon emissions reduction goal, while helping to keep New York affordable,” said Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

“Existing buildings both small and large, residential and institutional, built before today’s more rigorous energy and water conservation standards account for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions and energy waste in our city. The Mayor’s Retrofit Accelerator is a welcome action that will kick-start more renovations and conversions of existing buildings into environmentally responsible facilities, and should drive growth in the private sector to support a burgeoning building performance retrofit industry. This represents real and progressive municipal action to combat climate change and along with the Administration’s other initiatives should contribute to a meaningful impact on the long term reduction of NYC’s carbon emissions,” said Tomas J. Rossant, President of the American Institute of Architects New York.

“New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions come mostly from existing buildings, both directly and from the electricity and fuel they purchase. Retrofitting these buildings and improving their operations are therefore central to any program to reduce emissions, and will often yield major savings in energy costs as a side benefit,” said Professor Michael B. Gerrard, Director of Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. “It is exciting to see the City government moving aggressively on multiple fronts to advance these goals, and doing so in conjunction with partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors.”

“RSA applauds the Mayor and the Office of Sustainability for recognizing that for owners to do their part in reducing carbon emissions they need financial and technical help for the city,” said Frank Ricci, Director of Government Affairs for the Rent Stabilization Association.

“The Retrofit Accelerator will accelerate the market transformation begun by the Greener, Greater Building Laws, increasing private investment in the energy efficiency of buildings, saving energy, creating good jobs for New Yorkers and bringing the city closer to meeting Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious climate goals,” said Cliff Majersik, Executive Director for the Institute for Market Transformation. “IMT salutes Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and urges other cities around the world to follow his lead.”

“National Grid’s support for the NYC Retrofit Accelerator program will help drive energy efficiency upgrades and conversion to cleaner fuels such as natural gas by utilizing energy data and actively engaging building owners,” said Aurelio Mark de Yoanna, National Grid’s Manager of Community and Customer Management. “Our partnership in this innovative program will help ensure the success of the City’s bold efficiency & Green House Gas reduction objectives and make our communities more resilient and more sustainable.”

“To stand the test of time, affordable housing needs to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. We commend the de Blasio administration on their efforts to reduce carbon emissions from New York City’s buildings,” said Jolie Milstein, President and CEO of NYSAFAH. “In addition to contributing to the City’s 80x50 greenhouse gas reduction goals, these efforts will help lower building utility costs over the long term, an important part of preserving affordable housing for the future.”

“Everyone should do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the Mayor has set an ambitious goal for building owners in New York City,” said Rebecca Craft, Director of Energy Efficiency for Con Edison. “The city has made great strides over the years promoting clean energy, we will continue to build on that success.”

“As an organization that has assisted affordable housing owners in implementing green and healthy management practices, LISC applauds the de Blasio Administration for implementing the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, an important new program to help multifamily property owners make their buildings more efficient and healthier places to live,” said Sam Marks, Executive Director of LISC NYC.


Carbon Challenge Participants

“Our mission is to help people live the healthiest lives they can, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions contributes directly toward that goal,” said Dr. Ram Raju, President of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.  “We are proud to have been part of the Carbon Challenge since its inception and have already made substantial progress, lowering greenhouse gas emissions across the public hospital system by over 18 percent since 2007. With future energy efficiency projects I am certain we can meet the new and more ambitious 50 percent reduction goal.”

“As one of the original participants in the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge, NYU continues to be a staunch supporter of the city’s sustainability initiatives. We are proud to have achieved our initial 30 percent greenhouse gas reduction commitment six years ahead of schedule, proud of our record of reducing electrical usage, and proud to be part Mayor de Blasio’s effort to create a greener and greater NYC, not only for our generation, but for the generations to come,” said John Sexton, President of New York University.

“NYU Langone Medical Center is pleased to join other major institutions in achieving the Mayor’s new 80x50 Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction target. As a healthcare organization, we believe it is our responsibility to do our part in creating a healing environment both inside and outside the walls of our facilities. NYU Langone is committed to being an institutional leader in energy efficiency and sustainability and to improving the quality of the environment in New York City for the benefit of our patients, faculty and staff, students and the greater community,” said Robert I. Grossman M.D., Dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center.

“Memorial Sloan Kettering is pleased to extend its commitment to the New York City Carbon Challenge in partnership with the Mayor’s Office. We are committed to improving our environmental footprint for the benefit of our staff, our patients, and our community, and this program is an important part of that goal. With leadership from MSK’s Green Team, we plan to meet this goal by implementing energy conservation measures, re-commissioning existing systems, as well as designing all new buildings to earn a minimum LEED Silver rating,” said Craig B. Thompson, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Slone-Kettering Cancer Center.

“NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens is a proud partner of the NYC Carbon Challenge and is dedicated to continuing to reduce its carbon emissions. Being the first hospital to hit the 30 percent reduction goal in 2011, we are now excited to commit to the 50 percent reduction goal by 2025. As an expanding hospital and a major employer in Queens, we will continue to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings to further reduce our environmental impact and support the health and well-being of the communities we serve,” said Stephen S. Mills, President and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens.

“Douglas Elliman Property Management is pleased to participate in the NYC Carbon Challenge, helping our managed properties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and improve the energy efficiency of these multifamily buildings. These efforts will yield savings in energy usage for the shareholders, tenants and owners of the participating properties. Responsible energy stewardship sets the foundation for reducing New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions, lowers particulate levels, improves the environment and raises the quality of life for not just our residents but all the people of New York City. We urge greater participation in the Carbon Challenge by the multifamily sector, and we need every citizen of our great city to practice responsible energy usage every day to meet the worthwhile goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and helping the city to meet the important goals of the OneNYC plan,” said James V. O’Connor, President of Douglas Elliman Property Management.

“As a non-profit provider of affordable housing that is also focused on environmental sustainability, we applaud Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to both of these important goals. We look forward to participating in the NYC Carbon Challenge and demonstrating the positive impacts on resident quality of life, as well as the bottom-line savings, that property owners can achieve by greening their multifamily buildings,” said Christopher Cirillo, Executive Director of Lott Community Development Corporation.

“Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI) supports energy efficiency and recognizes the carbon impact on the environment. HCCI is leading the charge in making all our residential buildings energy efficient and carbon clean. We are happy to participate in the NYC Carbon Challenge program to help rid the environment of as much carbon emissions as possible and make the atmosphere healthier and more livable for our residents and community,” said Derek Broomes, President and CEO of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI).

“FirstService Residential is committed to helping our clients implement effective strategies that reduce emissions, costs and improve efficiency,” said Dan Wurtzel, President of FirstService Residential, New York City’s largest manager of residential properties and the first to join the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge for Multifamily Properties. “Nearly 80 of our managed buildings covering 16.5 million square feet have pledged to reduce emissions by 30 percent in 10 years. Working together through initiatives such as the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment to the benefit of all residents in this great city.”

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