The Real Deal New York

This City Council bill would require landlords to retrofit buildings

Measure seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40%
By Kathryn Brenzel | November 20, 2018 04:15PM

Costas Constantinides and rooftop gardens in Brooklyn Heights (Credit: iStock)

A new City Council bill seeks to require some 50,000 buildings to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next decade.

Council member Costas Constantinides, the bill’s sponsor, plans to introduce the legislation next Wednesday. The new measure would require landlords to decrease emissions in all buildings that are 25,000 square feet or larger by 2030. These buildings produce 30 percent of the city’s total emissions, Constantinides said.

“Instead of treating individual symptoms, like fossil fuel and energy efficiency, we will go after directly a carbon-producing virus,” he told reporters outside City Hall on Tuesday.

The bill also seeks to create an Office of Building Energy Performance within the City’s Department of Buildings, which would enforce the new emission requirements. The legislation has not yet been released publicly.

Earlier drafts of the measure had raised concerns that the costs of the upgrades would be passed onto tenants, especially those living in rent-regulated buildings. Constantinides said these retrofits won’t be eligible for the state’s major capital improvements program, which allows for an up to 6 percent annual increase in rent.

“We have never wanted landlords to do this work on the back of tenants,” he told reporters outside City Hall on Tuesday.

Under the bill, rent-regulated buildings would have to undergo a less-demanding retro-commissioning process, which won’t trigger MCI. A law created in 2009 already requires retro-commissioning in all buildings larger than 50,000 square feet.

When asked how the real estate industry will react to the measure, Constantinides said he expects a “robust” discussion.