City Council just created the “largest disruption in the history of New York City real estate”

Many buildings over 25K sf will have to be retrofitted by 2040

The proposed legislation is called the Climate Mobilization Act (Credit: iStock)
The proposed legislation is called the Climate Mobilization Act (Credit: iStock)

The City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection has passed a sweeping package of bills to cut greenhouse gas emissions, paving the way for adoption by the full council later today, Crain’s reported. And with projected costs north of $4 billion, a lot of landlords do not like it.

The proposed legislation, dubbed the Climate Mobilization Act and described as New York City’s version of the controversial Green New Deal, would force landlords to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign it into law on Monday, on Earth Day.

“This will be the largest disruption in the history of New York City real estate,” Urban Green Council CEO John Mandyck said. “We get that it’s tough and that billions of dollars will need to be spent to reduce carbon emissions. But new technology and new business models will be invented to help buildings get there.”

Buildings produce two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse-gas emissions. The new laws would require landlords with buildings over 25,000 square feet to retrofit them to be more energy efficient by adding new windows and insulation. Those buildings include everything from the Chrysler Building, the Empire State building, and other famous office towers, down to co-ops and condos across the city.

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Ed Ermler, the board president of a 437-unit co-op in Queens, said the target was impossible. “To get down to even 20 percent from where I am today, with the technology that exists, there’s nothing more that I can do,” Ermler told the New York Times. “It’s not like there’s this magic wand.”

The Real Estate Board of New York has taken steps to oppose the legislation, but the concerns of large building owners appear to have been mostly ignored. Meanwhile, religious institutions, hospitals and buildings with affordable housing managed to secure some modifications to the bill, according to Crain’s.

“There is no greater challenge to our city, state, and planet than climate change. The real estate industry and other stakeholders support the goal of reducing carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030,” REBNY president John Banks said in a statement. “The bill that passed today, however, will fall short of achieving the 40 x 30 reduction by only including half of the city’s building stock.”

The bill’s supporters say the legislation provide alternate compliance paths to owners who can’t meet the energy cut targets. Compliance can also be achieved by purchasing renewable energy from the grid, or carbon credits. [Crain’s] — Kevin Sun