FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22
February 13, 2019
Contact: Terence Cullen
Constantinides Introduces Bill to Create an NYC Department of Sustainability
Would Create the First Municipal-level Sustainability Agency in the United States if Passed
New York City Hall — Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, today introduced a bill to create the New York City Department of Sustainability, which would be among the first municipal-level agencies in the nation dedicated to fighting climate change.
“There will never be a moment in which we can spike the ball and shout, ‘We officially won the fight against climate change,’” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “This is a battle New York City must wage for generations. Our citizens deserve a full agency dedicated to a sustainable, resilient, and greener future — one that’s adaptive, with the intellectual and budgetary power to make real change. I look forward to seeing this department created so we can continue to rebuild our five boroughs for the future.”
Constantinides’ bill merges the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability with the Office of Resiliency and Recovery, creating a single commissioner-led entity. Both offices have addressed many threats to New York City’s built environmental infrastructure, such as the estimated over one-foot sea level rise by 2050. The demands of fighting the effects of climate change have only increased, however, as 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record amid startling international and federal environmental reports.
With an absence of federal leadership on climate change, it’s on New York City to craft sensible environmental policies. The Department of Sustainability would execute those policies as the coordinator between various city agencies responsible for resiliency, recovery, and other measures. DOS would also set interim and long-term goals by 2050 on sustainability measures such as greenhouse gas emissions, sea level rise, tree populations, and renewable energy generation. The commissioner must also provide annual updates no later than April 22 on how those indicators are being addressed.
Constantinides introduced a separate bill to create a renewable energy technology board. Representatives will be tasked with finding new technologies, identifying their best uses in New York City, and establish pilot programs where possible in municipal buildings. Professionals working in the heating and cooling field, solar, wind, and other renewable industries will comprise the board.
“If New York is to retain its position as a leading world city in the 21st century, it must be at the cutting edge of sustainability. But we’re in danger of losing ground on these air, water and resiliency issues. Councilmember Constantinides is rightly sounding the alarm and we look forward to working with him and his Council colleagues to elevate the attention these issues receive in City Hall,” said Eric A. Goldstein, New York City Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“New York City needs a Green New Deal and this bill is one of its building blocks,” said Pete Sikora, Climate and Inequality Campaigns Director for New York Communities for Change.
Establishing DOS would solidify New York’s environmental policies over the last five years. The Big Apple historically committed to an 80% carbon reduction by 2050, and the City Council is currently considering a bill to reduce the carbon footprint of large buildings. New York City is also committed to a 1-Gigawatt solar capacity by 2030, which is enough to power 250,000 homes.
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 of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on the For-Hire Vehicles, Land Use, Parks, and Transportation Committees and the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.