City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality would modernize our city’s zoning regulations to support our climate goals.
The world is facing a climate emergency. To respond, cities across the globe — including New York City — have set ambitious goals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve our goals by 2050, we need to transform our energy grid, retrofit our buildings, and shift to electric vehicles, transit and other modes.
The Department of City Planning (NYC Planning) is working with the Department of Buildings (DOB), New York City Fire Department (FDNY), and Mayor's Office of Climate and Environmental Justice (MOCEJ) on this proposal to clear the way for the many green investments needed in our buildings.
City of Yes would remove existing zoning obstacles that severely limit how much space on a rooftop can be covered by solar panels, unnecessarily hampering clean solar energy. It would also make it easier to install energy storage for solar power generated locally.
Among other impacts, these changes would open solar opportunities in over 8,500 acres of parking lots across the city.
In recent years, the NYC Construction Codes have been updated to include stringent requirements on energy efficiency and building performance. In some instances, zoning regulations stand in the way of the solutions buildings need to use to meet these standards.
City of Yes would address burdensome restrictions on wall thickness, height, and other regulations that limit building electrification and retrofitting. Our buildings could get energy efficient upgrades while maintaining the look and feel of New York’s neighborhoods.
Among other impacts, these changes would support environmentally friendly retrofits for over 50,000 buildings, including over 1 million homes, that are not currently feasible to retrofit today.
New York has ambitious goals for electrifying its transportation sector, but recent studies show it is significantly behind other major U.S. cities. Of the city’s 1.9 million private vehicles, less than 1% are zero-emission vehicles, and there are very limited public locations available to charge electric vehicles. City of Yes would facilitate electric vehicle charging in public garages and other places where it is needed.
Just one of the proposals to ease EV charging would more than double the space available for charging in commercial areas of the city – more than 400 million additional square feet. It would also clarify regulations and facilitate safe bicycle and e-mobility parking.
Improving the city’s waste stream is key to achieving carbon neutrality. This will require a substantial reduction in the amount of waste being sent to landfills. It will also require a reduction in the amount of stormwater that gets sent to our wastewater treatment plants.
City of Yes would expand the use of permeable paving and rain gardens, remove red tape and uncertainty for recycling and composting, and facilitate rooftop food production.
Bold changes are needed to meet our ambitious climate goals. We must update our regulations to reflect the latest developments in our city’s climate response and evolving technologies that can help us achieve these goals, which include:
Read letters from environmental and tenant advocates, from practitioners including architects, and from NYC agencies in support of City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality.
To submit a letter of support from your organization, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality will make it easier for property owners to install EV chargers in basements and commercial lots, such as a supermarket parking lot. The proposal does not cover street parking, which is not controlled by zoning. Streets are in the purview of the Department of Transportation (DOT), which is collaborating with the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice to expand access to public EV charging on streets across the five boroughs. Learn more about DOT’s EV charging program here.
Con Edison (Con Ed) has committed to building an energy grid that delivers 100% clean energy by 2040. The changes DCP is proposing will further support Con Ed’s efforts to expanding cleaner energy across NYC. Read more about Con Ed’s commitment here. A recent initiative to support their commitment is Reliable Clean City, which will strengthen NYC’s electric grid to use cleaner energy in the outer boroughs.
Modifying existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency is known as retrofitting a building. NYC Planning’s proposal will remove zoning barriers to retrofitting in a broad range of zoning districts including those in historic districts. Owners of landmarked buildings will have the option to retrofit their buildings as well. The Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) will continue to evaluate these retrofit requests.
The best first stop for someone seeking financial or technical assistance is NYC Accelerator (here), which provides resources, training, and one-on-one guidance to help building owners and industry professionals improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions from buildings in NYC.
The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) and the Department of Buildings (DOB) have standards and regulations for battery energy storage systems on buildings. These types of batteries are regulated and need to be approved by FDNY and DOB before they’re installed on buildings. We have been working with FDNY and DOB to develop the proposal and will continue conversations with the agencies around the safety of this technology.
Contact your representatives
City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality began formal public review on April 24, 2023. Your local Community Board, Borough President, and City Council Member will all have the opportunity to review, give input, and a vote. To participate in this process find your representatives here and attend public meetings.
Go to City of Yes: