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February 25, 2021
by Adam Roberts
Photo: Lesekreis via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Policy Points:

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