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Green Building News

NYC Mayor Wants a Smaller Carbon Footprint

The mayor proposes sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, saying the shift will bring a variety of improvements to city life

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has released a plan to reduce the amount of energy that public and private buildings in the city use. Passivhaus designs, net-zero energy strategies, and energy-efficiency measures will all contribute to achieving de Blasio's goals.

New York City Mayor Bill de Biasio is proposing steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and he’s looking to more advanced building techniques to help get the job done.

The One City, Built to Last program, which was announced on September 20, seeks to cut energy use by at least 60% from 2005 levels, a summary from New York Passive House said, and promote the use of more renewable energy.

In a message announcing the program, de Blasio said that rising sea levels, more serious heat waves, and more intense storms that strike more frequently all pose threats to New York residents.

“The damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 provided tragic evidence of these risks,” the statement said. “Almost two years later, we are still recovering. Globally, rising sea levels will flood coastlines, droughts will disrupt livelihoods, and storms and other extreme weather will threaten lives and economic development. We are faced with an existential threat, and inaction is not an option.”

He said New York becomes the largest city in the world to commit to the goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 80%.

Both public and private buildings will be renovated

Public and private buildings account for nearly three-quarters of the contribution to climate change, he said, adding, “but we can upgrade our buildings to make them more energy efficient and reduce these emissions.”

The city said “every single city owned building with any significant energy use” will be retrofitted in the next 10 years to reduce energy use. That’s about 3,000 buildings in all. Also, the city will push the owners of private buildings to spend money on energy upgrades.

Reducing energy use will lower greenhouse gas emissions by 3.4 million metric tons per year (the same as taking 715,000 vehicles off the road) and save a total of $1.4 billion annually by 2025, the mayor’s office said. One City, Built to Last will create some 3,500 new jobs in construction and energy services.

Ken Levenson, president of New York Passive House, called the plan a “watershed moment” that shows advanced building standards can successfully address climate change.

The press office said the program would be funded by the mayor’s Ten Year Capital Plan.

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