Bill would cap emissions at many rent-regulated buildings

Measure seeks to expand climate measure, which has broad exemption

TRD New York /
May.May 28, 2020 06:30 PM
Costa Constantinides (Credit: VoteCosta)

Costa Constantinides (Credit: VoteCosta)

Last May the city enacted sweeping legislation that required buildings to cap carbon emissions — but it spared properties with even one rent-regulated unit. Now that may change.

A new City Council bill would broaden the law to require certain rent-regulated apartment buildings to also meet those standards.

The measure, sponsored by Queens Democrat Costa Constantinides, would amend the landmark Local Law 97 to include buildings where up to 35 percent of units are rent-regulated.

Local Law 97 mandates a 40 percent reduction in citywide emissions by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. To achieve these goals, most properties larger than 25,000 square feet must limit emissions based on the building type and size — or pay huge fines. The Durst Organization, for example, would be penalized millions of dollars annually for its LEED-Platinum tower 1 Bryant Park unless it somehow slashes emissions from what is marketed as a sustainable skyscraper.

The blanket exemption of rent-regulated apartments largely sprung from concern that landlords would pass the costs of green retrofits onto rent-stabilized tenants through the state’s Major Capital Improvements program. The state legislature overhauled the program last year, limiting such rent increases to 2 percent and making them temporary. MCI increases can now only be applied to properties where more than 35 percent of the apartments are rent-regulated.

Real estate groups have called for the law to be changed, but not in the way Constantinides proposes. The industry wants higher emissions allowed for densely occupied buildings and more flexibility to meet the law’s standards.

Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected]

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