Proposed legislation by the New York City Council to require energy audits, while a nice idea, is extremely cost-prohibitive especially in today’s economy. The bottom line is that the spending proposed in this bill (Intro 967) will be taken straight out of the operating budgets of co-ops and condos and not the city coffers.
Among the legislation’s provisions are that owners of buildings 50,000 square feet or more must retain an approved energy professional to conduct the once-per-decade audit, which the city will require of a specified 10 percent of affected buildings each year for 10 years. The audit would identify both “capital alterations of building systems involving the installation of new equipment, insulation or other proven energy efficiency technologies” and “reasonable retro-commissioning and retrofit measures that would ... reduce energy use and/or the cost of operating the building.”
Which co-ops or condos will be most affected by this bill? Not the Manhattan high-rises recently built with fancy names and green roofs, but the garden style and high-rise variety built a half century ago dotting the neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn where many of the working class families of our city live. And worse yet, you will have nothing to say about it.
Government-mandated spending, which was once the bane of local municipalities is now spreading to the residential housing stock of our city. City legislators, many of whom I venture to guess probably have never stepped inside a co-op, have sponsored Intro 967, titled “Energy Audits & Retrofits.” This bill is being sold as an environment-friendly green bill but in my opinion it will wreak havoc on co-ops and condos by mandating huge expenditures for green projects. The bill is on the move and is scheduled for a hearing before the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee in mid-July.
Intro 967, which is part of the Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s larger PlaNYC 2030, would require that all buildings including co-ops larger than 50,000 square feet undergo periodic energy audits. These energy audits, however, do not come cheap, and if one finds that your building is lacking in energy efficiency and can be retrofitted to save energy with a project payback period of seven years or less, then you have no choice but to do the project. What about cost? It doesn’t matter. Does it save energy and will the project’s cost be paid back in seven years through savings? Those are the only determining factors that matter.