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Mayor Announces Dramatic Drop in Energy Use and Carbon Emissions in Large Buildings Citywide

October 19, 2017

Fifth benchmarking report shows that between 2010 and 2015, emissions from 4,200 consistently benchmarked properties dropped by 14 percent, energy use decreased 10 percent

NEW YORK––As part of Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious goals to create more energy efficient buildings and align the city’s emissions reduction goals with the Paris Climate Agreement, the Mayor in partnership with Urban Green Council and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress released New York City’s Energy and Water Use 2014 & 2015 Report, a comprehensive analysis of energy and water usage of large buildings in New York City.  

The analysis in the report finds that between 2010 and 2015 greenhouse gas emissions from 4,200 regularly benchmarked properties that missed no more than one benchmarking period, dropped by 14 percent, while energy use decreased 10 percent.

"This new analysis demonstrates that we can continue to achieve substantial reductions in emissions from the largest source in our city, our buildings, and keep New York City on-track toward our 80x50 target,” said Mayor de Blasio. “‎This sets the stage for even more dramatic reductions that will be achieved through mandatory retrofits for the largest, most polluting buildings across the five boroughs. When Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, we knew we had to accelerate our local climate actions, and that's exactly what's happening.‎"

The report was produced in partnership with Urban Green Council and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. It is part of a nearly decade long effort to better evaluate and manage energy use in buildings citywide, which contribute nearly 70 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Seven years ago, as part of its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, the City of New York launched an initiative to determine how much energy its largest buildings use. Since then, Local Law 84 of 2009 (LL84) requires owners and managers of buildings that occupy at least 50,000 square feet to report the amount of energy and water these buildings use each year. This information can be used to compare the buildings’ energy performance against that of similar buildings. This process of reporting and comparison, known as benchmarking, has since been adopted by many major cities, including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

While the simple exercise of benchmarking can raise building owner awareness and often lead to actions that reduce energy and water use, it also remains clear that to achieve the City’s ambitious climate goals to accelerate greenhouse gas reductions, more action will have to be taken. The report illustrates that half of the emissions declines are due to a cleaner electrical grid and more efficient district steam generation. Now that most New York State electricity generation from coal and oil has transitioned to natural gas, building owners will have to dig deeper into energy efficiency to keep up the pace. Benchmarking, in coordination with plans announced earlier this fall to mandate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s largest buildings will be vital to accelerate this work and deliver on the City’s promise to deliver on the Paris Agreement’s stretch goal of limiting a global temperature increase to l.5° Celsius. 

 “The facts are clear. Benchmarking can help buildings use less energy, contribute fewer greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, and save money,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer for the Office of the Mayor. “Now is the time to take that even further by requiring the city’s dirtiest buildings to retrofit their systems to achieve even deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. These efforts by New York City demonstrate the type of leadership that is necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement and fill the void of federal climate leadership.”

“Thanks to the data and analysis within this report, we can continue to target areas and policies that will aggressively reduce our energy consumption and accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions to get us closer to our climate goals.” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “This report and policy tool is yet another example of what is possible when public and private partnerships work together towards a more sustainable and just city.”

“The City requires buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to perform annual energy audits – and we continue to see dramatic improvements in sustainability simply by ensuring that building owners get the information they need on how much energy they use. To further reduce both emissions and energy bills, we’ll be expanding the program to mid-size buildings next year,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler. “Expanded benchmarking will play a pivotal role in achieving Mayor de Blasio’s vision to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.”

 “Benchmarking is an important tool in achieving the City’s energy reduction targets since  it provides the metrics to compare our buildings to similar buildings in other locations, strategically invest resources and monitor performance over time,” said Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo. “We know it works since we have seen a 11.5% decrease in building energy use intensity from 2015 to 2016.”

“I am proud that this Energy Use Report shows a 14% drop in greenhouse gas emissions.  This benchmark shows that we’re making great progress in combatting climate change and serving as a leader on the environment.  We’ll continue to take steps like increasing use of renewable energy and cleaning our power grid in order to bring us even closer toward our 80% reduction goal.   Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for his bold leadership on this environmental issue,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee.

“We're glad to work with the city for the second year to analyze the biggest cache of large building data in the U.S.” said Russell Unger, Executive Director of Urban Green Council. “The report highlights encouraging improvements, and the findings give us direction on how to move further to reduce carbon and deliver on the City’s 80x50 goals.”
"This year's report represents another significant step forward in using data analytics to address the serious urban challenge of climate change," said Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE, Professor of Urban Informatics at NYU CUSP and Tandon, Director of NYU's Urban Intelligence Lab, and lead data scientist for the report. "New York City continues to lead on climate action, and data-driven, evidenced-based policies are necessary to achieve the Mayor's ambitious goals to reduce the City's carbon emissions and energy use."

LL84 requires that roughly 15,000 City-owned and privately-owned properties benchmark their energy and water use each year. While these properties account for fewer than two percent of properties citywide, they comprise 47 percent of New York City’s total built square footage, or about 2.3 billion square feet, an expanse larger than the land area of Manhattan and Staten Island combined.

While the previous reports from 2012-2014 were required by LL84, the New York City’s Energy and Water Use 2014 & 2015 Report marks the second time the City voluntarily released a report of this kind. In addition, the de Blasio administration has taken a series of steps to cut energy use in buildings across the five boroughs, catalyze a private market for energy efficiency and low-carbon upgrades, and create new energy jobs. These steps include launching the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, to help building owners and operators of large buildings navigate all the steps necessary to complete energy and water upgrades, and the NYC Benchmarking Help Center, launched in partnership with CUNY’s Building Performance Lab, to provide free technical assistance and support for all covered buildings that need help at any stage in the benchmarking process. More information is available at

New York City’s Energy and Water Use 2014 & 2015 Report can be accessed here.

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