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City Unveils Earth Day Plan for Green Retrofits & Benchmarking

Mayor Bloomberg today is unveiling a four-pronged plan developed by his Sustainability Advisory Board that would soon require New York City building owners to implement a variety of energy efficiency upgrades to existing buildings. Four separate bills would require energy audits, efficient lighting installations, including upgrades to commercial and residential common areas, and ultimately the creation of a new city energy code; the DOB has been asked to draft a set of rules based on the bills no later than December 31, 2010.

The Times and Post are reporting that a number of owners are opposed to the major thrust of the plan: to require all owners of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to perform an energy audit every 10 years beginning in 2013. After each audit, the owner would be required to implement a bundle of efficiency upgrades with a payback period of less than five years. The audit and proof of the upgrades would be filed with DOB at the end of every ten-year period. The city plans on using $16 million in stimulus money to create a revolving loan fund that will assist some owners in executing the proposed efficiency upgrades. These same owners would be required to benchmark their building’s performance and make the results available to the public. The city anticipates that, if enacted as planned, the initiative would reduce total carbon dioxide emissions by 3 million tons per year by 2022- 5 percent of Gotham’s 2005 total of 63 million tons.

We’ll be following this story extremely closely as it will undoubtedly have major implications for the New York City real estate industry. The New York chapter of BOMA has already voiced its opposition to the audit and benchmarking components of the plan, so expect significant commentary on this important initiative as it moves forward towards implementation after today’s announcement.

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