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Mayor de Blasio Announces Major Progress in Greening City Buildings

December 14, 2015

City leading by example, retrofitting all public buildings by 2025; projects already in place or underway at buildings representing half of all City government building emissions

Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and NYU launch tool to track energy and water use at large buildings – key resource as NYC reduces all emissions 80 percent by 2050

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that the City has made significant progress in greening its own building stock as it works to retrofit all public buildings by 2025 and move toward an 80 percent reduction in all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – a key OneNYC target. As the City leads by example in retrofitting its own buildings, it also continues to make it easier for private building owners to do the same, launching a new tool today to track energy and water usage at large buildings. 

Of the nearly 3,000 public buildings with any significant energy use, almost one-third already have retrofits in place or underway. Those buildings represent 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from City buildings.

“This weekend, world leaders took a historic step in the fight against climate change. New York City has long set the pace when it comes to innovative climate action – and we’ll continue to lead the way,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We’re greening every public building, with retrofits now in buildings representing half of all public building emissions. Our progress is clear, but we won’t stop leading by example – and providing the tools for the private sector to do the same – because our very future is at stake.”

These buildings include hundreds of public schools, libraries, offices, courthouses, firehouses, police precincts, and more. Some of the most notable retrofits in place or underway include a solar installation and fuel cell generator at City Hall; lighting controls at the American Museum of Natural History; HVAC upgrades at the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; unit heaters and rapid roll-up doors at nine Sanitation garages; LED lighting upgrades at dozens of firehouses and police precincts; and innovative battery storage technologies at Queens Hospital and Jacobi Hospital that address both sustainability and resiliency goals.

The City has installed nearly four megawatts of solar on its public buildings in the last year alone, bringing the total to nearly five megawatts. The City recently released a Request for Proposals for 15 megawatts more of solar on public buildings that include 66 schools across the five boroughs, Bellevue Hospital, Hostos Community College, the Bronx Hall of Justice, the Queens Museum, and the Abe Stark Ice Rink, among others.

Public and private solar installations have more than doubled since Mayor de Blasio took office. Earlier this month, the Department of Buildings announced that it will speed approval of solar installation projects by eliminating wait times for qualifying permits.

The City is leading by example in retrofitting its buildings, while pushing private building owners to do the same – and providing tools to ensure they can. Today, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress are launching the New York City Energy and Water Performance Map, a visualization tool that allows building owners to understand the energy and water efficiency of the 26,000 largest buildings across the five boroughs. This follows the launch of the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, which provides free technical assistance and advisory services for building owners to go green through critical energy efficiency, water conservation, and clean energy upgrades.

The New York City Energy and Water Performance Map derives its data from NYC Local Law 84 of 2009, which serves as a model for cities grappling with the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. This law requires private buildings over 50,000 square feet and public sector buildings over 10,000 square feet to report their energy and water consumption each year for public disclosure. The New York City Energy and Water Performance Map will help users analyze annual energy and water consumption data since 2010 for roughly 2.3 billion square feet of private building space (representing 23,000 private sector buildings) and 281 million square feet of public building space (representing 3,097 public sector buildings).

The New York City Energy and Water Performance Map joins the growing list of resources available to New Yorkers interested in data-driven approaches to understanding utility consumption and making buildings more energy efficient. Recently the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation released its efficienSEE calculator that lets users estimate the energy savings potential of a building, and Urban Green Council launched a MeteredNYC tool, which uses public data to show how well New York’s buildings are performing, how much energy they use, and how they can improve.

“Now that the international climate agreement is done, leaders around the world must get down to the business of transformation,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “On energy efficiency, this city got going in a New York minute, years before this agreement – showing the way for others – because we have no time to waste. The sooner everyone moves, the sooner we see the results of lower carbon emissions, lower temperatures, better air quality, innovative technology, and green jobs.” 

“Working with our energy partners across City agencies we have been able to make significant progress toward the City's aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals,” said Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Stacey Cumberbatch. “We are using a broad array of strategies and project mechanisms to improve energy performance and increase renewable energy generation at municipal buildings, making New York City a leader in combating climate change.”

“NYC has been a leader in data-driven approaches to urban sustainability, and this visualization platform provides a powerful tool for policy makers and the general public to better understand building energy use and carbon emissions," said Dr. Constantine E. Kontokosta, PE, Assistant Professor of Urban Informatics at NYU CUSP and the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the Research Lead for the NYC Energy and Water Performance Map. “By making the data and analysis transparent and accessible, this platform will help to catalyze significant carbon and energy use reductions in buildings and communities across the City.”

“One third of city buildings have already been retrofitted – a fantastic move forward for a greener and more sustainable NYC. Greening our building stock will save the city money in the long-term and serve as an example for the private sector. The new energy tracker available for private buildings is an innovative solution that will help us move closer toward our goal of reducing our citywide carbon emissions 80% by 2050. I commend Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this important issue,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection.

“Retrofitting our public buildings is the most effective way to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and today's announcement is a great sign that we are on our way to reaching the OneNYC goal of an 80 percent decrease by 2050,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “Setting and reaching benchmarks along the way will help ensure that we not only reach the goal of retrofitting all public buildings by 2025, but also increase the possibility of attaining that milestone faster. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to the goals established by the OneNYC Task Force.”

“New York City is again leading the way and demonstrating the tremendous benefits to be achieved by retrofitting buildings to be more energy-efficient,” said Donna De Costanzo, Director of Northeast Energy and Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The new tracking resource announced today continues Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to provide the private sector with the tools it needs to save money through reducing energy and water waste and will play an important part in helping us to meet our climate goals."

“Building on New York’s long legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to retrofit all city buildings is a perfect example of how the City can lead by example to address building energy use. These retrofits will reduce harmful pollution, create local jobs and spur New York City’s economy,” said Rory Christian, New York Director, Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund.

“BEEx applauds the rapid progress the City has made in realizing the huge energy efficiency potential of its own buildings,” said Richard Yancey, Executive Director of the Building Energy Exchange. “Mayor de Blasio’s leading by example, with public building retrofits, paves the way to inspire private sector action. As an integral partner of the Mayor’s Retrofit Accelerator, BEEx looks forward to helping all New York’s building owners and tenants save money through energy efficiency, while creating better offices and homes, through education and exhibits at our downtown efficiency resource center.”

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