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Climate Works for All coalition says Council Member Constantinides’ Energy Efficiency Plan for Big Buildings is a Breakthrough on Climate, Jobs and Justice and sets standard for the nation

Now NYC Council Should Introduce and Pass Legislation with Mayor de Blasio’s Support  

August 20, 2018, New York City – Climate Works for All, a coalition of environmental justice organizations, labor unions, environmental, faith and community groups, praised Council Member Constantinides’ pledge to turn the recommendations from the Urban Green Council’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership into comprehensive legislation.

If enacted, the requirement for buildings over 25,000 square feet to reach high energy efficiency standards would establish in law the nation’s strongest requirements to slash climate pollution, and make New York City’s commitment to the Paris agreement a reality. The requirements would also lead to the creation thousands of good, career-track jobs yearly, and avoid imposing standards on rent-regulated housing that would raise rents via Major Capital Improvements (MCI) rent hikes.

For years, Climate Works for All has demanded through the “Dirty Buildings” campaign that Mayor De Blasio and the New York City Council enact bold legislation to cut pollution from New York City’s largest source – its buildings – while creating good jobs and protecting rent-regulated tenants from steep rent hikes. Buildings account for 70% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Large buildings over 25,000 square feet – often luxury office and residential buildings such as Trump Tower – are the source of most of this pollution.

Members of Climate Works for All including ALIGN, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, New York Communities for Change, the NYC Central Labor Council and Working Families Party spent months reviewing the proposals of Urban Green Council’s 80×50 Partnership, in addition to members of the real estate industry, technical and design professionals and other environmental advocates, to build broad consensus on how to implement a retrofit mandate that would reduce pollution and give the industry a clear direction.

The plan would address climate pollution both in the near term with a requirement of 20% energy use reductions by 2030, and in the longer term by setting standards into law by 2020 that would cut pollution by over 80% by 2050.

Climate Works for All’s advocacy has not been limited to the climate impacts of such an historic bill. Understanding that any requirements on large building owners will have secondary impacts on New York’s tenants in rent-regulated units, the coalition has advocated with the Council, Mayor’s staff and in the UGC partnership to include language in a bill that prevents rent-hikes tied to Major Capital Improvements that would come from energy efficiency upgrades. Urban Green Council’s report echoes this concern, and recommends a list of measures for energy efficiency that will not trigger rent-hikes for some of New York’s most vulnerable residents.

The remarkable consensus voiced by advocates and industry, and reflected in the Urban Green Council’s report, affirms the principles that Climate Works for All and its 24 member organizations have supported since 2014, when the coalition released a report showing the need to clean up New York City’s dirtiest buildings and address the City’s largest source of pollution.

Climate Works for All now calls on members of the New York City Council, led by Speaker Corey Johnson, to translate these recommendations into law, and pass a bill that will create thousands of jobs per year, dramatically reduce New York’s climate pollution, improve air quality, modernize offices and living spaces and protect rent-regulated housing. New York City can be a leader on climate policy by passing a first-in-the-nation requirement for energy efficiency, and show the world that New York will continue to move forward to act on climate despite inaction at the federal level.  

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN said: “If passed into law, these recommendations will cement New York City’s leadership on climate change and signify a breakthrough for our communities and workers. For years, the Climate Works for All coalition has advocated for bold action on NYC’s biggest polluters – its buildings – and our member organizations have participated in the Urban Green Council’s 80×50 Partnership. We are excited to see the consensus around this platform that will reduce emissions, create good jobs and protect affordable housing, and urge the City Council to pass legislation as soon as possible.”

“I know first-hand as a Sandy survivor that it’s time to fight climate change with everything we’ve got, and this plan gets it done,” said Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change (NYCC). “Councilmember Constantinides’ plan will slash climate and air pollution, create good jobs, and protect affordable housing, such as the rent-regulated apartment where me and my family now live.”

Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance said: “For years, we have been advocating for an energy efficiency building mandate in New York City that moves us toward the 80×50 greenhouse gas emissions target, while protecting affordable housing and lowering energy costs. We need bold moves to protect low-income neighborhoods and communities of color from the growing threats of climate change. We look forward to working with the City to support an equitable implementation of this critical climate policy.”

Stephan Edel, Project Director, New York Working Families said: “This plan should make New York a national leader in moving us towards efficient healthy buildings, reduce emissions that drive climate change, and create thousands of good union jobs. These recommendations carefully balance aggressive reductions in energy use through 2050 with protections for tenants and building owners. We look forward to working with the Speaker Johnson and Environmental Committee Chairman Costa Constantinides to enact these recommendations into law.”

“This is a truly bold, progressive proposal that will slash pollution deep enough and fast enough to achieve the Paris climate agreement while creating good jobs and protecting affordable housing.  We look forward to Speaker Johnson and the Council’s leaders led by Environmental Committee Chairman Costa Constantinides enacting these recommendations into law. This proposal is a win-win-win for all of us,” said Jonathan Westin, Director of New York Communities for Change (NYCC).

“The Peoples Climate Movement – New York is proud to be a part of the Climate Works for All coalition and the #DirtyBuildings campaign to secure a plan that will achieve the city’s 80×50 goal with swift cuts in carbon emissions, the creation of thousands of good jobs, and protection of the city’s most economically vulnerable tenants,” said Denise Patel, Peoples Climate Movement – NY.

Formed in 2014, Climate Works for All is comprised of environmental justice advocates, community organizations, labor unions and faith-based organizations with the goal of addressing climate change and income inequality.