In the NY Times: Panel Suggests 100 Ways Buildings Can Be Greener 02/02/10

February 2nd, 2010 Posted in Front Page News, In the News, Parks Committee, Project Green, Water Committee
Published: February 1, 2010

A panel of experts convened by the mayor and City Council issued more than 100 recommendations Monday on how to make New York City’s building codes more environmentally sound by imposing energy-saving requirements on construction and renovation work.

The measures, presented to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Council’s speaker, Christine C. Quinn, include rules for insulating glass skyscrapers and a plan that would place temperature controls in individual apartments, eliminating the winter ritual of opening windows to vent excess heat.

Many of the proposals would need to be approved by the City Council.

“A lot of these are incremental gains, but together they amount to a big gain,” said the panel’s chairman, Russell Unger, the executive director of the New York chapter of the United States Green Building Council, which certifies green design and construction. “By changing code, everybody can have lower utility bills.”

The recommendations are the city’s latest attempt to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by its buildings, which are estimated to be the source of about 75 percent of the city’s emissions over all. In December, the City Council passed legislation requiring owners of New York’s largest buildings to pay for energy audits, upgrade lighting and take other steps to reduce energy consumption.

But as with previous green proposals for buildings, many of the improvements suggested on Monday could substantially increase the costs of renovation or construction.

The panel of experts, including representatives of the building industry and from environmental groups, said at a briefing that the city must find ways to secure financing and offer other incentives to help developers and managers make the changes.

“In general, the industry supports the overall goal,” said Charlotte Matthews, vice president for sustainability at the Related Companies, a major New York developer that has a representative on the task force.

She noted that some measures would be less palatable than others, and that in difficult economic times “any change is a little unnerving.”

But she said a stiffer code regulating buildings’ energy use was essential in meeting the city’s long-term environmental demands and “ensuring that all New Yorkers have a healthy home, school and workplace.”

The panel’s wish list includes requiring all commercial and residential buildings that are four stories or taller to meet the nation’s latest energy standards. Other proposals call for such buildings to be more airtight and to have minimal insulation.

One proposal would impose higher efficiency standards for heating systems and ban inefficient boilers in the city’s largest buildings. Another would phase in individual apartment temperature controls over a 10-year period.

Ms. Quinn said about half of the measures would not involve significant expenditures. The real estate industry’s participation in the process should help address concerns about costs, she added.

“It’s kind of a new way of looking at how we do business with a green perspective,” she said.

In a statement, Mayor Bloomberg said the recommendations by the panel, which was convened 18 months ago, were critical to meeting the city’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.

A version of this article appeared in print on February 2, 2010, on page A22 of the New York edition.
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  1. One Response to “In the NY Times: Panel Suggests 100 Ways Buildings Can Be Greener 02/02/10”

  2. By karen on Feb 2, 2010

    Well, it is about time! Finally!

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