Buildings produce at least 70% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The city will not meet its climate change commitment of reducing emissions 80% by 2050 unless it targets its big buildings, and unless it take a “whole building” approach that covers the use of fossil fuels, electricity, and central steam.
In September 2017, Mayor de Blasio announced his commitment to establish a citywide mandate for the reduction of fossil fuel usage in large buildings across New York City. De Blasio’s plan is right to require large buildings to cut their emissions dramatically and become more energy efficient.
But to achieve the greatest impact, New York City must reduce all types of energy usage in large buildings, including electricity from the grid and central steam – not just fossil fuel usage. Any future mandate for energy efficiency must pursue a whole building approach to reducing energy usage.
The city has a tremendous opportunity to put low-income communities at the center of this effort, while creating the climate careers of the future, tackling inequality, and protecting affordable housing. Requiring building owners to improve efficiency across all types of energy usage can spur strong job growth for electricians, plumbers, carpenters, painters, engineers, and building service workers.
ALIGN and the Climate Works for All coalition have developed a whole building approach to energy efficiency that will yield stronger results than de Blasio’s plan. It will reduce NYC total emissions by 12% instead of the 7% target under the mayor’s plan, create 3,800 jobs per year instead of 1,120, and protect affordable housing from rent hikes.
The City will only meet its ambitious climate targets if it requires a whole building approach, covering electricity use as well as direct use of fossil fuels.