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Urban Green Council’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership Releases Carbon Reduction Plan


Contact: Sam Spokony, sam@marathonstrategies.com, 845-536-4767


Buildings Partnership’s New Report Lays Out Recommendations for Reducing Large Building Energy 20 Percent by 2030, Putting New York City On Firmer Footing to Achieve 80×50 Goals

New York, NY – Urban Green Council’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership – led by major stakeholders in real estate, labor, energy efficiency, nonprofit, and government – today released a first-of-its-kind report laying out a new approach to reducing carbon emissions in tens of thousands of residential and commercial buildings across the five boroughs.

The more than 40 organizations in the Partnership collaborated over eight months, creating a blueprint to reduce large building energy 20 percent by 2030. It will put New York City buildings on track to reduce citywide carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 (80×50).

While 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in New York City come from buildings, a consensus roadmap for significant energy savings had been elusive due to divergent viewpoints. The Buildings Partnership addressed this challenge by bringing together stakeholders – building owners, to unions, to lifelong advocates for greener buildings – to create a set of recommendations that serve as a blueprint for major energy reductions in large buildings. (The complete list of Buildings Partnership members can be found on the Urban Green website.)

The resulting proposal, if implemented, would significantly reduce emissions in about 50,000 buildings across New York City. It would also protect affordable housing, promote jobs and ensure that building owners with good sustainability track records are not overly burdened.

“The Partnership brought together organizations from opposite sides of the fence. But it turns out the fence wasn’t as high as we thought,” said Russell Unger, executive director of Urban Green Council, which convened the 80×50 Buildings Partnership. “Building owners want to improve energy efficiency. Advocates do care about feasibility. We just needed to recast disagreements as questions, and the time to work through them.”

Urban Green Council’s groundbreaking report, a Blueprint for Efficiency, is attached in full. The report is comprised of 21 recommendations that set a new standard for city energy policy. Here are some of the most impactful proposals:

  • Cut Citywide Building Energy 20 Percent by 2030: Require large buildings (over 25,000 square feet) to save 20 percent from 2020 to 2030 in aggregate, with each sector – residential, commercial and industrial – contributing a proportional share. By 2020, establish default targets for 2040 and 2050 that are consistent with achieving New York City’s 80×50 goal, with review and update every five years.
  • Use a Made-in-NYC Metric to Measure Progress: Develop a new metric based on the EPA’s Energy Star rating that is calibrated with New York City building data, providing an effective and accurate measure of progress in reducing energy. This will address longstanding concerns about using existing metrics to measure progress in New York City buildings that use energy differently based on nuances in construction, operations and occupancy.
  • Keep Affordable Housing Affordable: In rent-regulated buildings, require low-cost, energy-saving measures to minimize the use of “major capital improvements,” the cost of which are often passed on to rent-stabilized tenants. This will ensure that low- and middle-income families in rent-stabilized buildings will not face rent hikes as a result of the plan.
  • Let Building Owners Trade Efficiency to Provide Flexibility: Develop an optional “efficiency trading” program that will help building owners to achieve their energy
    reduction requirements by buying energy savings from upgrades in other buildings. Consideration should be given to providing greater credit for efficiency improvements in the non-profit and affordable housing sectors.

The Partnership’s Blueprint for Efficiency is an ambitious but achievable plan to deliver a 20 percent energy savings in large buildings from 2020 to 2030, with recommendations to guide future phases. Together with reductions made to date, this strategy will take buildings a third of the way to 80×50. Equally important, New York City will have an infrastructure to deliver building energy improvements at scale. Finally, the hard work of the Partnership shows that consensus climate solutions are within reach, paving the way for other cities.

“I am very impressed by the wide variety of stakeholders who are engaged in this process and are dedicated to reducing New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said New York City Council Speaker, Corey Johnson. “This work is essential to limit the impact of climate change and ensure a healthy future for generations to come. I look forward to working with the Partnership as we move forward and continue to make this City a leader for the rest of the country.”

“This policy framework between so many varied stakeholders is proof we can get real results when everyone works together,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Climate change does not take a break, so neither can our fight to reduce its impacts. I look forward to continuing a productive dialogue with all the Partnership’s stakeholders on how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.”

“We are proud to partner with Urban Green and a broad range of stakeholders across the spectrum to create a plan towards a more sustainable New York City,” said Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU. “This is a blueprint to save energy and reduce carbon emissions while maintaining affordable housing. Together, New Yorkers can lead the way towards a low-carbon economy.”

“We recognize that climate change is a societal problem. This means that every sector, including real estate, needs to help address it.” said John H. Banks, President of the Real Estate Board of New York. “We applaud Urban Green Council for convening a diverse group of stakeholders and building consensus for the concepts outlined in the report.”

“ALIGN is at the helm of labor-community-environmental coalitions in New York and has long advocated for bold and just climate action in the city,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN. “By cutting emissions, creating jobs and protecting affordable housing, the 80X50 Buildings Partnership does just that. We urge the city to implement this plan.”

“New York’s professional engineering community is strongly committed to helping the city implement sustainability, energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction,” said Jay Simson, President of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York. “ACEC New York supports implementation of a rational and comprehensive effort to achieve this, of which Blueprint for Efficiency is an important step.”

“Currently, around 70% of carbon emissions in New York City come from buildings,” said Ben Prosky, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY). “The construction industry and City Hall need to come together to solve this problem, and the 80×50 Buildings Partnership provides a clear path forward.”

“The Partnership made quick work of identifying major areas of consensus and what issues require further development to ensure this policy is effective for years to come,” said Charlie Marino, Director of Energy Services at ASHRAE New York (AFK Group). ASHRAE NY is honored to be part of the process, and we look forward to collaborating further with the partnership stakeholders.”

“A Blueprint for Efficiency outlines actionable policy recommendations that would have a meaningful and lasting impact on New York City and our environment,” said Sabrina Kanner, Executive Vice President of Brookfield Properties. “Brookfield is proud to have played a role in its creation and is grateful for Urban Green Council’s leadership in assembling such a strong and diverse partnership and driving a truly collaborative process.”

“The Catholic Community Relations Council (“CCRC”) is pleased to be a part of the 80×50 Buildings Partnership and strongly supports the plan’s recommendations,” said Joseph Rosenberg, Executive Director at Catholic Community Relations. “The finding that buildings owned by religious organizations and nonprofits require dedicated financial and technical support to reduce energy usage is critical. Without such assistance, the core mission of these organizations could be compromised.”

“The Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums has been pleased to participate in this thoughtful and collaborative process which has focused on practical, relatively affordable ways that New York City buildings can improve energy conservation and reduce our carbon footprint,” said Mary Ann Rotham of CNYC Inc.

“CodeGreen is proud to have contributed technical and industry experience to the collaborative 80×50 Partnership process convened by Urban Green Council,” said Christopher Cayten, Principal of CodeGreen Solutions. “Reducing the energy use of New York City’s buildings is critical to reaching the city’s 80×50 goal and these recommendations outline a thoughtful approach to a very complex challenge.”

“Exceeding long-term sustainability goals and meeting cost saving targets is in Edison Energy’s DNA,” said Saverio Grosso, Vice President of Edison Energy. “That’s why we’re excited to form part of the 80×50 Buildings Partnership and hope to continue collaborating with our partners to make New York a global model for energy sustainability.”

“Big problems such as climate change require different perspectives, collaboration, and collective action,” said Andy Anderson, Managing Director of Energy Watch. “By working with Urban Green Council’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership and colleagues in the industry to produce these recommendations, we can collectively inform City Council on feasible, achievable, and equitable policy and take a major step toward achieving 80×50.”

“The recommendations from the 80×50 Buildings Partnership will enable New York to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring that affordable housing providers can continue to safely house the city’s most vulnerable residents,” said David Downs, Senior Program Officer at Enterprise Community Partners. “Enterprise looks forward to working collaboratively with the City and our partners to implement the Partnership’s plans across thousands of buildings in New York.”

“The 80×50 Buildings Partnership plan is the product of an unprecedented collaborative process, which proves that stakeholders across the political spectrum can come together to advance New York’s robust sustainability agenda,” said Rory Christian, Director of New York Clean Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. “Nearly 70 percent of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, so it’s critical for the City to implement this plan’s recommendations that will make buildings more energy efficient.”

“Kudos to the Urban Green Council,” said David Pollock, Associate Executive Director and Director, of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. “They pulled together a Partnership of diverse stakeholders to identify core ideas to facilitate a 20% cut in energy usage in New York City’s large buildings by 2030. We are especially grateful that the Partnership recognized the necessity to ‘Lend a Bigger Hand Where It’s Most Needed.’ Nonprofit building owners need financing, grants and technical assistance in order to concentrate their scarce resources on their mission rather than to waste them on inefficient water, energy and fuel usages.”

“Our work is focused on proving the business case for investment in energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Dana Robbins Schneider, Managing Director at JLL. “We are proud to be part of the 80×50 Buildings Partnership and look forward to offering our experience and expertise to ensure implementation and achievement of New York City’s 80×50 goals through effective policy.”

“The Buildings Partnership has helped to bring us further down the path toward realizing NYC’s 80% by 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goals,” said Donna De Constanza, Eastern Region Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The rigorous stakeholder discussions over the last eight months will help critical building energy use reductions move forward in the Big Apple”.

“I lost almost everything in Sandy, so I know first-hand why New York City must radically slash its climate pollution,” said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change (NYCC). “The Council and Mayor should make New York City the world’s leader in tackling climate change by making these recommendations the law.”

“If New York City is serious about meeting its climate goals, we must look towards the city’s largest contributor to climate change – buildings,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “The 80×50 Buildings Partnership’s recommendations to establish emissions reductions targets from 2030 through 2050 will help ensure that residential and commercial sectors do their part to make New York City’s climate goals real. We were pleased to work together with groups from across industries to develop these recommendations that will transform New York’s public and environmental health.”

“The 80×50 Buildings Partnership plan is a Green New Deal for New York City, creating good jobs while aggressively tackling climate change,” said Bill Lipton, Director of New York Working Families.

“I’m proud to be part of the Urban Green Council’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership, as this effort will help NYU reach its own goals to cut emissions 50% by 2025 and be carbon neutral by 2040,” said Cecil Scheib, Chief Sustainability Officer at NYU. “By encouraging the greatest possible energy reductions in the most cost-effective manner, the Partnership’s new plan will benefit everyone: building owners will save money, building occupants will be subject to less disruption and New York City will be closer to reaching its climate goals.”

“The Partnership for New York City participated in developing the 80×50 Buildings Partnership plan and supports the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting continued economic growth,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of Partnership for New York City.

“A sustainable future for New York City would be impossible without collaboration like the 80×50 Buildings Partnership Plan,” said Arthur ‘Artie’ O. Klock Jr., Director of Trade Education for Plumbers Local Union No. 1. “We are proud to have contributed to the development of these recommendations, and anticipate playing a critical role in the implementation of the plan’s recommendations along with other members of New York’s workforce.”

“Buildings are almost as individual as people, and by offering a set of high-level, challenging, but achievable goals, the Buildings Partnership report creates an environment in which engineers and architects can adapt the enormous, motley collection of buildings we call New York City to the needs of tomorrow,” said Richard Leigh, Visiting Professor at Pratt Institute.

“Major efficiency upgrades are integral to the future of real estate development in New York. The 80×50 Buildings Partnership balances the interests of many different stakeholders to achieve just that goal,” said Jared Rodriguez, Associate Director of Realty Operations Group. “We look forward to the City’s implementation of the recommendations found in this plan.”

“Green buildings are a priority for SL Green,” said Edward V. Piccinich, Chief Operating Officer of SL Green. “The 80X50 Buildings Partnership was an opportunity to share our experience in green building with a broader audience in order to achieve sustainability objectives through economically feasible

“Steven Winter Associates commends the thoughtful way that this Partnership has built on all NYC has learned over the last 10 years to chart a pragmatic and balanced path forward,” said Dianne Griffiths, President of Steven Winter Associates.

About Urban Green Council
Urban Green Council’s mission is to transform buildings for a sustainable future. We help New York City and State develop cutting-edge policy, we educate a broad range of professionals, and we research solutions that drive change locally and nationally.