by Justin Pascone
On 10.13.16, the New York City Council unanimously voted on a trio of bills to expand the reach of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan to even more of New York’s buildings. This will extend many of the components of the plan to mid-sized buildings and thus nearly 60% of the city’s built area.
AIANY has been advocating for the passage of these and other initiatives to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment, and create healthy spaces for New Yorkers to live and work. Most recently, AIANY testified in favor of the three bills at a June hearing before the City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings.
Int. No. 1163-A expands the city’s benchmarking requirement to buildings larger than 25,000 square feet. Under the current plan, buildings 50,000 square feet or larger are required to benchmark annually. Benchmarking data is currently available to building owners and the public through easy-to-use websites set up by the city and the Urban Green Council.
Int. No. 1160 expands the requirements to have electrical sub-meters installed in buildings 25,000 square feet or larger, and to tenant spaces 5,000 square feet or larger by 2025. Under the current plan, buildings 50,000 square feet or larger and tenant spaces 10,000 square feet or larger are required. With electricity in many of these buildings reported on one meter as opposed to sub-meters, individual tenants have little incentive to cut their energy use because they’re billed at a standard rate not directly tied to their actual energy use.
The last of the three, Int. No. 1165, expands the requirements to upgrade the lighting systems so that they are in compliance with the standards in the New York City Energy Conservation Code. Again, the bill extends to buildings 25,000 square feet or larger rather than 50,000 square feet. Lighting currently accounts for a full 13% of the energy used in large buildings. Because many use outdated and inefficient fixtures and bulbs, there’s a lot of waste that can be cut and money saved.
- 10.25.16: The Office of the City Clerk issued an advisory opinion to clarify language from the 2013 Lobbying Law update that potentially impacted architects, design professionals, and engineers. According to the advisory opinion, “application to DOB [Department of Buildings] for work permits and any ensuing communications with employees of DOB relating to the issuance of permits, approvals, or other construction-related documents and determinations by DOB is not ‘lobbying’ or a ‘lobbying activity.’” AIANY is waiting on a second advisory opinion on whether appearances related to the city’s Environmental Quality Review process will be determined as lobbying. Earlier this month, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) distributed a helpful Frequently Asked Questions for architects and engineers regarding lobbying and land-use actions. For more information and updates on the lobby law and how it is affecting architects, visit AIANY’s Advocacy website. AIANY is continuing to communicate with JCOPE and the City Clerk’s office to bring members the most up-to-date information and advocate on their behalf.
- 10.13.16: Mayor Bill de Blasio submitted Laurie Hawkinson, RA, partner at Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects, for consideration to be a Commissioner for the NYC Arts Commission, also known as the Public Design Commission.
- 10.14.16: The New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency released a newly updated Citywide Waterfront Inspection Guidelines Manual, a valuable resource that outlines standard operating procedures for inspecting city-owned coastal and waterfront assets. The updated manual – originally published in 1999 – features refined criteria and new standards to reflect current environmental conditions, and includes new soft infrastructure asset types such as marshes.
- 10.17.16: Mayor de Blasio and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced an agreement to revise New York City’s flood maps. This comes after the de Blasio Administration’s 2015 appeal of FEMA’s flood risk calculations for the city and the region, which mapped 35,000 more homes and buildings across the city into highest flood-risk areas.
- 11.08.16 is Election Day. AIA National has provided comprehensive, non-partisan information about where the candidates for President stand of key issues in their 2016 Presidential Candidate Profiles. The New York Board of Elections provides a helpful Poll Site Locator to find your local voting place on Election Day, and get a sample of what will be on your ballot, including state and local elections.
- 12.01.16: The Department of Labor’s new overtime rule will be taking effect. Over the summer, the department finalized its update of overtime regulations, raising the salary threshold so that every full-time, salaried employee making less than $47,476 annually (or $913/week) would be eligible for overtime pay. To better understand how this rule will affect you or your firm, the AIA released a brief outline of what to expect. You can also visit the Department of Labor’s overtime rule resource page. If you have additional questions, AIANY recommends you consult with a qualified HR professional or attorney.