On July 1st, about 10,000 New York City buildings must start phasing out their use of high-polluting fuel oil. Under the city's “Clean Heat” mandate (a part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan New York initiative), permits are being phased out for No. 4 and No. 6 grade heating oils. Permits required for using No. 6 oil—the worst polluter of the three main types of heating oil—were discontinued in 2012 and permits for No. 4 will be denied beginning this summer, as boilers and burners are replaced to comply with the new law.
Since the majority of emissions and thus the bulk of the city’s carbon footprint are created by buildings that often have outdated and inefficient heating systems, bringing buildings into compliance with the Clean Heat regulations ultimately will create a less wasteful Big Apple with clearer skies. There is another silver lining to this regulatory cloud: the savings that can be achieved by multi-family buildings through transition to a more efficient boiler, or even from heating oil to natural gas-powered heating systems, can be significant and long-term. This potential for savings makes a methodical approach to compliance with the new law all the more important.
Starting to comply with the new law means doing your homework and often, also having a mentor in the process. Considering the pros and cons of a system alteration, replacement or upgrade to a gas-powered system shouldn’t be just the concern of residents, board members and property managers—often, an expert should be hired to manage the process. But not always; sometimes a simple upgrade of a decent system to No. 2 oil is all a building’s residents need and want. Evaluating the heating/cooling system and boiler, as well as its components, is just the start of the process.
Why Phase Out?
There are a variety of reasons for the phase-out. It’s partly about saving money and natural resources, but primarily the new law is meant to help clean up a city which has pollution that is known to adversely affect children and others who can’t afford it, like the elderly. Creating a cleaner and greener New York City, from the perspective of the mayor, is another way that the city is protecting the health and interests of the citizens. It’s also good for business: having clean air and efficient heating systems (and because of that, lower residential building maintenance fees), and perhaps even fewer cancer clusters due to less pollution, are always good characteristics for a city’s “livability” rating.
Studies have shown a strong correlation between lung diseases and burning No. 6 oil, says Frank Lauricella, director of business development for The Daylight Savings Company, an energy efficiency consultant/engineering firm in Goshen. The recognition of the connection between lung-related diseases like asthma and No. 6 fuel oil led to the change, he says.