by Adam Roberts
In 2019, the New York City Council passed Local Law 97, a landmark piece of legislation requiring large buildings to stay under emissions limits. These emissions limits were intended to spur mass retrofitting of the city’s building stock, which would in turn Retrofitting decrease carbon emissions, create green jobs, and reduce inequity in living and working conditions. Currently, the NYC Department of Buildings, led by an advisory board composed of many AIANY members, is determining provisions to help better enforce the law.
However, in his proposed 2021 State Budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo is seeking to allow building owners to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) to ease compliance. These RECs would enable owners to use renewable energy from outside New York City to avoid having to spend money retrofitting their buildings. Without retrofitting, the law would fail to reduce the inequities in the built environment and create the jobs it was intended to.
It is widely believed that this proposal is being pushed at the behest of building owners, who would save significant amounts of money by avoiding retrofitting. While buildings owners have seen revenues decrease during the economic crisis, so too have others in the building industry. Urban Green estimates that LL97 would create a $20 billion market and 140,000 jobs. Amidst this economic downturn, architects, engineers, and tradespeople are relying upon this desperately needed retrofitting work. Should it not come to fruition, they make seek work opportunities elsewhere.
Many legislators and advocacy groups, including AIANY, have expressed strong opposition to the Governor’s proposal. It remains to be seen whether the State Senate or State Assembly will support this budget proposal. Without their support, it will not be able to go forward.
- The NYC Department of City Planning is undertaking rezoning proposals in wealthier, predominantly white areas, including SoHo/NoHo. The fight over the proposed SoHo/NoHo rezoning has become a proxy battle for whether similar historic neighborhoods should be rezoned to allow for more housing. AIANY has expressed its strong support for the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan, and is hosting a program on the proposal at 11:00 am on Friday, March 19.
- Recently, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson released a report detailing the need for a comprehensive plan for New York City. In conjunction with the report, he introduced a bill, 2186-2020 to institute such a plan. Earlier this week, AIANY issued a statement and submitted testimony at a New York City Council hearing in support of the comprehensive plan, while expressing some concerns over the specifics of the bill.