Developer joins climate advocates in pushing gas-hookup ban

Alloy, building all-electric tower in Brooklyn, attends rally supporting measure

A rendering of the 80 Flatbush project and Alloy CEO Jared Della Valle (Alloy, AIANY)
A rendering of the 100 Flatbush project and Alloy CEO Jared Della Valle (Alloy, AIANY)

Climate advocates have found an unlikely ally in their fight to ban fossil-fuel hookups in new buildings.

Alloy Development has joined New York Communities for Change to push a City Council bill that would effectively bar the use of natural gas in any new building or property that undergoes a major renovation.

The developer is breaking ranks with the industry, which protested loudly when National Grid declared a moratorium on new gas hookups two years ago. (The utility backed down when Andrew Cuomo threatened to revoke its license.)

Alloy President AJ Pires spoke at a press conference on Monday outside 100 Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, where the company is building an all-electric residential tower.

It is also rare that a developer sides with New York Communities for Change. The ultra-progressive group has advocated for major changes to rent, including good cause eviction, and opposed an amendment to the city’s Local Law 97 that was sought by the real estate industry.

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Pires told The Real Deal that as a firm led by architects, Alloy is comfortable being more progressive than some of its developer counterparts, noting that “people can see across traditional lines when things are important.”

“Like all things related to climate change, soon is never soon enough,” he said. “We see no reason not to accelerate the transition.”

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The Real Estate Board of New York has questioned why the City Council would rush to pass its proposal without consulting recommendations by the city and the state. Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged in January to ban fossil-fuel hookups in new buildings by 2030. The state has also floated a phaseout of such fuel sources over the next decade, based on building size and type.

“The real estate industry understands that eliminating fossil fuel combustion from buildings is essential to reducing emissions from the built environment,” REBNY President James Whelan said in a statement Monday. “However, tangible reductions won’t result from press conferences or press releases, but instead from thoughtful legislation that addresses issues such as the limits to technology and equipment and the complete lack of reliable carbon-free electricity in New York City.”

That is, nearly all electricity used in the city is generated from fossil fuel; that will be true of Alloy’s Downtown Brooklyn project as well. However, the carbon emissions will be lower than if the building were heated by natural gas. Alloy will also not need to worry about running gas piping through its building, and hopes to use its eco-friendliness as a selling point.