Can the world’s most famous skyline also be the most forward-thinking on climate?

Ben Furnas, de Blasio’s climate czar, on how regulation and govt funding can slash New York real estate's energy footprint

If asked to think about Bill de Blasio and climate change, your first thought might very well be the infamous convoy of SUVs that brought him from Gracie Mansion to the Park Slope YMCA every morning.

Poor optics aside, the former mayor’s climate policies, particularly when it came to New York City’s built environment, were among the most ambitious and innovative in the country, according to Ben Furnas, who served as his climate czar.

“I’d like to think that with a little bit of time and space, folks will look back and see the material changes, and the individual activities will fade into the background,” Furnas said, sitting down with The Real Deal’s Hiten Samtani in December, during his final week in the de Blasio administration, to talk through its climate legacy.

The two discussed the thinking behind Local Law 97, the ban on gas in new construction and making the market for renewable electricity, as well as opportunities for New York City to become a testing ground for new climate technologies.

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“If New York City’s buildings can be a model for climate-friendly real estate development,” Furnas said, “that’s a model that people are hungry for.”

Watch the above video for highlights from the conversation. And to read an extended version of the interview in Q/A format, click here.

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