The Council of the City of New York
Office of Council Member Costa Constantinides
(718) 274-4500

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2015
Contact: Shachar Sharon

City Council Overwhelmingly Passes Constantinides Bill to Conserve Energy

New York City Hall – The New York City Council today overwhelmingly passed INT 850-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides (Astoria) in conjunction with Mayor De Blasio, which reduces the City’s energy consumption. The bill mandates that all stores keep their doors closed while air conditioning is operating, limiting power demands during peak periods and helping decrease pollution.

Constantinides said, “Shutting the front doors of businesses so that air-conditioning doesn’t escape can help reduce carbon emissions by thousands of tons. There is no evidence that shows leaving doors open during hot days helps business owners increase sales. In fact, this practice of saving power will see business owners reap real savings in their energy bills. This commonsense policy will help us reach our goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. It will take the cooperation of everyone to make our city greener and save energy.”

INT 850-A expands the already-existing mandate, Local Law 38 of 2008 sponsored by then-Council Member Gale Brewer. Under Local Law 38, all chain stores and commercial establishments over 4,000 square feet were required to keep their doors closed while air conditioners are operating. INT 850-A removes the exemption for stores and establishments under 4,000 square feet and raises the penalty for repeat offenders. Sidewalk cafes and establishments that leave their doors or windows open to provide table food services are exempt from this mandate.

Leaving doors open while air conditioners are operating can increase electricity usage by up to 25 percent.

According to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, 10,000 businesses would be affected by this mandate. Enacting this policy would result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 22,000 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to removing 3,600 cars from the road.

This reduction of energy would significantly impact the city’s power grid, where most plants are over 40 years old and are equipped with technology that has a lower efficiency and larger air emissions impact than modern plants. This is will especially impact Constantinides’ 22nd Council District as more than half of the city’s power plants are concentrated in Astoria and Long Island City, Queens.

“Air conditioning in commercial spaces accounts for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all energy used in New York City, so reducing waste in this area can make a big dent overall energy usage,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This is just one of the common-sense policies that will contribute to a greener and more efficient New York. I thank Council Member Constantinides for his continued leadership on environmental issues in our city.”

Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said, “Cooling the outdoors on a hot muggy day by leaving doors open makes no sense. By requiring businesses to close their doors, this bill also closes a loophole — and in doing so will improve air quality while bringing down greenhouse gas emissions. This bill marks yet another step forward as we implement Mayor de Blasio’s sweeping sustainability plan, including an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.”

“Throughout New York City, many businesses open their doors during the hot summer months to lure customers inside with cool air,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin. “This practice should never be seen as a cost of doing business – but a harmful cost to our city’s environment and a waste of money for the business. This is why, over the past summer, DCA increased enforcement and outreach to educate businesses about the environmental and financial impacts. I applaud the collaborative work of Mayor de Blasio, Council Member Costa Constantinides and all of City Council in passing this bill to strengthen the existing law to require all New York City businesses to ‘Shut the Front Door.'”

“We passed Local Law 38 to protect both our environment and everyone who has to pay an electric bill,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, who sponsored Local Law 38 as a councilmember. “Over the course of this summer, too many stores were still blasting cold air into the streets, and it became clear increased enforcement and a broader law were necessary. I applaud Councilmember Constantinides’ swift action, and look forward to working with him and the Dept. of Consumer Affairs to ensure the updated law is fully enforced.”

“This new law, if paired with effective enforcement, could bring an end to one of the most brazen forms of energy-wasting in this city. It holds the promise for reduced air pollution in our neighborhoods, fewer brownouts or blackouts on the hottest days of summer, and big savings in fossil fuel burning. We applaud Councilmembers Costa Constantinides and Donovan Richards for their leadership on this issue, and thank Mayor de Blasio and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Menin for spearheading this effort,” said Eric A. Goldstein, NYC Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

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