According to a confidential report obtained by Crain’s New York Business, and included as part of this week’s edition’s cover story, the Bloomberg administration is in the process of outlining an energy proposal that it will include in its PlaNYC 2030, which remains under development. One of 2030’s overarching goals is to achieve a thirty percent reduction in New York City’s CO2 emissions. (I’ve yet to write about 2030 but it’s essentially a plan that the City is developing in order to accommodate the 900,000 additional residents expected to settle in New York over the next 23 years, boosting our population to a mind-boggling 9 million).
The proposal as described by Crain’s would require all new building construction to increase energy efficiency by twenty percent over New York State’s current minimum code. It would also mandate that owners of one- and two-family homes bring their properties up to code prior to sale or substantial renovation, as well as require mandatory commissioning for HVAC and lighting systems in existing buildings. Smaller commercial and retail businesses would also have to upgrade their lighting systems to the energy code upon change in occupants or in the event of a substantial renovation.
However, Richard Anderson, executive director of the New York Building Congress, tempered the enthusiasm of some environmental groups conveyed in the article with respect to the energy proposal. “Everything is adding cost to development, whether it’s adding a component of affordable housing or a green component,” Crain’s quotes Anderson as saying. “It’s getting to the point where new residential and commercial development is very expensive.”
New York needs to be careful here. With close to one million more people on the way before 2030, the City is in dire need of housing and office space for these new residents and workers. Construction costs right now are sky high, and adding additional layers of cost- whether from LEED or other government mandates as described above by Crain’s- could discourage developers from building in the Five Boroughs. While the City’s PlaNYC 2030 goals are extremely important, Mr. Anderson’s concerns are legitimate and once again implicate the carrot versus stick debate. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how PlaNYC 2030 shapes up and whether it ultimately incorporates these energy proposals as described by Crain’s.