What the NYC Climate Mobilization Act Means for NYC Buildings

In late April 2019, the New York City council approved the Climate Mobilization Act. This legislation, which passed overwhelmingly with a vote count of 45-2, is meant to help the city reduce emissions from buildings and become a leader in fighting climate change.

What Is The Climate Mobilization Act?

The Climate Change Mobilization act is an assemblage of 6 separate bills. When combined, these pieces of legislation will mandate significant changes to many large buildings in New York City.

The two primary changes are:

  1. Aggressive caps on pollution
  2. Mandated cuts to greenhouse gas emissions

Effects of this new law will begin to be felt in 2024, when landlords will need to start upgrading their buildings to comply. The city hopes that emissions will be reduced by 40% (from 2005 levels) by 2030, and 80% by 2050.

What Buildings Does The Climate Mobilization Act Affect?

The Climate Change Mobilization Act will apply to various types of buildings over 25,000 square feet. Office buildings, hospitals, schools, warehouses, and many others will be affected. In all, the total amount of NYC buildings subject to this legislation exceeds 50,000. A specific exemption is churches & other houses of worship. A second exemption is any building that contains at least 1 rent-controlled residential unit.

What Changes Does It Mandate?

Between the 6 different component bills, the Climate Change Mobilization Act specifies changes that must be made by both public and private entities. Changes that private landlords of larger buildings will have to make include:

  • Installation of more energy efficient windows, which will serve to lessen heat transfer between the inside and outside of a building.
  • Upgrading of HVAC systems. It’s estimated that up to 70% of all emissions in a city are generated by buildings. A majority of emissions generated by a building can be linked to the HVAC system. Upgrading from an older system to a newer one can have huge emissions-reduction benefits.
  • Owners of some buildings with large roofs will be required to cover those roofs with plants, solar panels, wind turbines, or a mix of all three.

How Does The Law Work?

On a yearly basis, building owners will be required to submit a report showing actual emissions versus their calculated emissions limit. If actual emissions exceed the limit, building owners will be subject to a fine. Building owners can offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits.

How Is the City Managing Roll-Out of This Legislation? 

The city will create a new office this year – The Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance. This office will be tasked with regulating and enforcing the new standards stipulated by the Climate Change Mobilization Act.

Learn more here and how Donnelly Mechanical can help you prepare today!

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