Bloomberg NYC

Michael Bloomberg announcing the expansion of PlaNYC Carbon Challenge in April last year.

New York City's greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 19 percent since 2005, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday, and the air in the city is cleaner.

He and Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway and Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability Director Sergej Mahnovski said the city was now nearly two-thirds of the way to meeting the goal of achieving a 30 percent reduction in citywide emissions by 2030 as established in PlaNYC, the City’s comprehensive sustainability blueprint five years ago.

Bloomberg announced the progress report as he prepared to leave the mayor's office yesterday to make way forthe new incumbent Bill de Blasio after 12 years in office.

PlaNYC 2030 set out a number of initiatives, such as requiring hybrid taxi cabs and retrofitting municipal buildings to make them more energy efficient. This website documented the efforts made in a recent webcast.

Sergej Mahnovski said that New York's air is the cleanest it has been in 50 years and that the city is on track to make even deeper emissions cuts.

"The key message is that local governments can work together with utilities, regulators, environmental partners, developers and communities to test-bed new concepts and sharply reduce emissions with state-of-the art analytics, financial products and technical resources," he said.

Bloomberg has shown courage and conviction on combating climate change that went beyond the city limits. He has been a strong advocate for national climate change legislation and is leads an international group of mayors dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

After Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election, whom he felt would take stronger action against climate change than Republican opponent Mitt Romney.

The disaster also led Bloomberg to announce a $20 billion plan in June to prepare the city for rising sea levels and hotter summers which includes 250 recommendations, ranging from installing floodwalls and storm barriers to upgrades of power and telecommunications infrastructures.

Bloomberg is now to set up a task force to apply the kind of solutions he has developed in the city to others throughout the United States and beyond.

What now?

But what will happen in City Hall now? At de Blasio's inauguuration, ex-President Bill Clinton said: "inequality ... bedevils the entire country. It is not just a moral outrage, it is a horrible constraint on economic growth and on giving people the security they need to tackle problems like climate change."

De Blasio is committed to keeping the plans set in place by his predecessor, who, on Tuesday, announced new and expanded programs aimed at building efficiency, including an expansion of the Carbon Challenge program to multifamily buildings, $50 million made available for clean energy financing and delivering less polluting natural gas to thousands more New Yorkers.

Municipal building retrofits already underway will have the added benefit of saving taxpayers a projected $54.6 million annually.

The new programs will help property owners and developers invest in energy efficiency and cut energy waste in buildings, which account for over 75 percent of citywide emissions. New York City’s Pathways to Deep Carbon Reductions, also released this week in partnership with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority reports that energy efficiency and distributed generation investments in buildings are the greatest opportunity to further reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Modernization of the city’s energy infrastructure, targeted outreach and innovative financing tools are making energy efficiency more feasible and affordable.

The City will expand the Carbon Challenge, launched in 2007, as a voluntary program for building owners to accelerate energy efficiency improvements. It is now being expanded to include multifamily buildings since residential buildings are the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, accounting for 37 percent of emissions.

New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation

The New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC), launched by the City in 2010, is the first public-private financing entity dedicated solely to energy efficiency and clean energy financing, and has deployed $50 million in energy efficiency and clean energy financing products.

These products include mortgage lending, direct loans, and credit enhancements, providing the easily-accessible financing needed to catalyze an energy efficiency retrofit market. Projects financed by NYCEEC are already under construction in 34 buildings and dozens more will begin soon.

Current projects are projected to result in 25,000 metric tons of carbon reductions—the equivalent of removing 5,000 passenger vehicles from the road.

One of these projects is Franklin Plaza, a Mitchell-Lama co-op in East Harlem managed by Prestige Management, also a Carbon Challenge partner is moving from number 6 heating oil to cleaner burning natural gas.

Franklin Plaza recently closed the first loan through the NYC Housing Development Corporation’s Program for Energy Retrofit Loans (PERL), a program enabled by HDC’s partnership with NYCEEC. $3.8 million in energy efficiency loans for this project will reduce energy use by 15%, cut carbon emissions by 30%, and will result in energy savings that are equivalent to preventing a rent increase of more than 10%.

ACE

To help achieve the goal to reduce City government emissions, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ Accelerated Conservation and Efficiency program, or “ACE,” has allocated $100M in a first round of funding for streamlined energy efficiency and clean energy retrofits through a diverse set of capital projects.

Overall, the ACE Program has the potential to cut City operations' GHG footprint by more than 5% from its FY 2006 baseline, reducing emissions by more than 37,000 metric tons of carbon and saving the City $17.5M annually in utility cost savings.

Additionally, the City has deployed over 30 megawatts of clean distributed energy installed or underway, halfway to the goal of 55 megawatts by 2017; installed 10 new solar photovoltaic arrays across the five boroughs last year, tripling the City’s existing solar capacity; has completed over 200 building efficiency retrofits since 2007; implemented a demand response program that reduces 20 megawatts of load that helps ensure the reliability of the electricity grid on the hottest days.

Better Buildings

New York City and National Grid have now joined as partners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Energy Data Accelerator, which will increase access to data on energy use in buildings. This initiative is one of three new Better Buildings Accelerators, part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to engage leaders in state and local governments, utilities, and industry to demonstrate innovative policies and programs that will transform the energy efficiency market and cut building energy waste.

 

The White House has launched the Better Buildings Initiative to improve energy efficiency in buildings and power plants aiming for 20% savings across the commercial and industrial sectors.

New York City and National Grid join more than 30 cities and utilities that have committed to demonstrating streamlined, best-practice approaches for building owners to access whole-building energy usage data for the purposes of benchmarking and achieving greater energy and cost savings.

New York City’s energy policies will be amplified through this collaboration, further reducing its own emission reduction goals through PlaNYC.