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August 6, 2018
by Adam Roberts
PS 41 green roof. Credit: Aloha Jon.

In New York City, around 70% of carbon emissions originate from buildings. For years, little was done legislatively to address the effects buildings have on air quality and climate change. Lately, this has changed, with a series of actions in the City Council seeking to actively encourage sustainable design.

Early this year, Int. 1632 was signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio, which will require buildings in New York City to post energy grades based on their energy star scores. The intention is to better educate the public on the importance of reducing energy usage in buildings, while also putting pressure on landlords and building managers to reduce energy usage.

There has also been a larger conversation about not just grading buildings on their energy usage, but on penalizing them for exceeding certain limits. Int. 1745 was introduced in the City Council last year, which would institute targets for fossil fuel and energy usage for buildings over 25,000 square feet.

Int. 1745 has created greater awareness of the importance of limiting energy usage in design. It has also brought up questions about how designing sustainably can reduce inequality or potentially increase it. Major concerns have focused around rent-stabilized buildings, as not mandating targets could prevent them from being retrofitted, though retrofits could trigger Major Capital Improvement (MCI) rent increases.

Int. 1745 has not been reintroduced this year. Nonetheless, AIA New York has been working with the City Council, the Mayor’s office, and other organizations to ensure that the new bill encourages the best design practices. AIANY is also hosting a conference at the Center for Architecture on Friday, 9/21, in conjunction with ASLA and APA on reducing carbon emissions in New York City. We will keep our members updated on the bill’s progress and other opportunities to become involved in advocacy around the issue.

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