To commemorate Earth Day and the 2nd anniversary of PlaNYC's launch, Mayor Bloomberg donned a green tie and went up to the gorgeous 620 Loft & Garden roof at Rockefeller Center, where he announced a package of legislation intended to improve New York’s energy efficiency. Joined by City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, union leaders, the Sierra Club's Carl Pope, and other officials, Bloomberg promised that the "far-reaching package of new local laws will... reduce energy costs by some three-quarters of a billion dollars a year."
According to the Times, the heating, cooling and electrifying of buildings accounts for more than one-third of the country’s carbon dioxide. The proposed legislation focuses attention on upgrading older buildings in New York, where buildings account for 80 percent of the city’s carbon-dioxide emissions and their energy costs are about $15 billion a year. Once implemented, the mayor predicts the legislation will reduce citywide emissions by 5 percent, the equivalent of eliminating all carbon emissions from Oakland, California. The new laws would include:
- A New York City Energy Code which existing buildings will have to meet whenever they make renovations.
- Buildings of 50,000 square feet or more would have to conduct an energy audit once every ten years and make any improvements that would pay for themselves within five years
- A jobs program to work with the real estate and construction industries and train the workforce that will fill the estimated 19,000 construction jobs the legislation will create.
- A financing program that uses $16 million in federal stimulus money to provide loans for property owners to pay the upfront costs for the efficiency upgrades that eventually pay for themselves.
The official press release goes into much greater detail, and the city's website has a progress report [PDF] on the first two years of PlaNYC; according to the mayor's office, 85 of the 127 initiatives in PlaNYC are "either on-time or ahead of schedule." Regarding the new proposals, expect resistance from the Building Owners and Managers Association, who told the Times they supported the energy code, lighting improvements and steps requiring energy "bench marking." But they plan to fight the biggest component of the plan: the required energy audits and mandatory upgrades. Quinn, who had an active role in drafting the package of legislation, counters that, "There’s always somebody against something."