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Massive efficiency plan could see 50,000 New York buildings slash energy use

Central Park new york
Photo: Hector Arguello Canals

New York’s large building owners will work to cut their assets’ energy use by an average of 20 per cent by 2030, under a new plan revealed this week by the US Green Building Council’s New York City chapter.

The Urban Green Council’s Blueprint for Efficiency tackles efficiency in about 50,000 of New York’s large buildings – those over 25,000 square feet (2323 square metres) – in order to help the city in its goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The plan was developed with 42 of the city’s biggest property players, including Brookfield Properties, Vornado Realty Trust and SL Green Realty Corp.

It involves 21 recommendations, including the creation of a metric to set emissions targets for individual buildings; that low-performing buildings be made to reduce energy use more than efficient ones; and that owners be able to trade efficiency credits.

The proposal, if adopted, would apply to 18,500 residential, 3500 institutional, 3500 commercial and 2000 industrial properties.

City-owned assets over 10,000 sq ft (929 sq m) would need to reach the 20 per cent target by 2025, while there would be concessions for affordable housing developments. Getting rid of gas in favour of electric heat pumps would be encouraged, and peak demand savings would be incentivised.

“Along with reductions to date, the plan will take the city more than a third of the way to its 2050 goal for buildings,” Urban Green Council executive director Russell Unger said in an op-ed.

“It includes targets for buildings over 25,000 square feet, a new metric for energy reduction, and incentives and support for building owners, among many others tools. But it’s the collaborative process behind the report that has made this opportunity possible.”

To develop the plan, 70 experts from real estate, energy efficiency, government and community sectors came together over eight months.

“Stakeholders across the spectrum demonstrated a shared interest in advancing a framework for reducing building emissions,” Mr Unger said.

“The question now is how to quickly make this collaborative vision a reality. The next steps must come from the city council and mayor’s office.”

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