NYC Responds to the Climate Crisis
The City’s long term plan, One NYC, has a section on the climate crisis describing plans to cut NYC’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050. It details a host of energy conservation, resilience and adaptation initiatives to be carried out by many City agencies.
In spring 2019, City Council passed a bundle of 10 bills aimed at lowering the City’s carbon emissions. One requires a report on phasing out 24 gas and oil fueled power plants in NYC. New buildings will have to install green roofs or solar panels.
Since 70% of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from buildings, the most important bill in the package is Intro 1253, the Dirty Buildings Bill. It requires buildings over 25,000 square feet in size to cut their emissions by by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. While these 50,000 large buildings make up just 2 percent of the city’s real estate, they account for about half of all building emissions.
Some NYC buildings are going in the wrong direction. Look at the luxury residential high rise towers that are increasingly dominating NYC skylines, not designed to conserve energy. Look at the slew of new skyscrapers in Long Island City: There are about 20 supertall skyscrapers in NYC.
Fortunately, some are getting ahead of legislative requirements, moving in the right direction. There are over 70 that are or will be certified to the ultra-efficient Passive House standard, which will use about 75% less energy than comparable standard buildings.
Those are excellent and critical efforts - but we should remember there's an entirely different avenue that so far, NYC isn’t using - carbon sequestration.