Creating a Greener New York City Planning for a Sustainable Future

When the Bloomberg mayoral administration launched PlaNYC in 2007, New York City took notice. The program focused on the environment, and included everything from planting street trees to reducing carbon emissions, upgrading building codes to prepare for extreme weather, and cleaning up air pollution by phasing out Number 6 heating oil in commercial and multifamily buildings. One hundred percent compliance on phasing out dirtier heating oils has been achieved.

Greater, Greener, Better

Another component of PlaNYC was the 2009 introduction of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. Patrick Love, Carbon Challenge coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, says that first, the mayor’s office convened a Sustainability Advisory Board that included elected officials and experts from various fields in the private and public sectors. Then, says Love, “The city spent 15 months researching and developing a package of energy initiatives, and on Earth Day 2009, the  Greener, Greater Buildings Plan was announced.”

According to Phil Madigan, manager of multifamily programs for Con Edison, “Greener, Greater Buildings is more of an overall theme than a plan.” It is a broad umbrella that includes a variety of measures, some of which are applicable to co-ops, condos and other multifamily buildings.

According to the website of the city’s Office of Sustainability, the program concentrates on larger buildings. “The city’s square footage,” it reads, “is highly concentrated in less than two percent of its properties; two percent translates into 15,000 properties over 50,000 square feet, which account for almost half of New York City’s square footage and as much as 48 percent of New York City’s total energy use.” Madigan explains that in general, for multifamily buildings, 50,000 square feet basically translates to 40-to-50 units and up. 

The Big Four

The original Greener, Greater Buildings consists of four local laws supplemented by job training opportunities and a financing entity known as the New York Energy Efficiency Corporation. These laws, says Love, “easily passed” the City Council in December 2009. They are:

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