FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22

September 22, 2020
Contact: Terence Cullen
tcullen@council.nyc.gov

Legislation Would Strengthen Local Law 97 by Widening Scope

Astoria, NY — The New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection today heard overwhelmingly favorable testimony on Intro. 1947, a proposed amendment to Local Law 97 that will mandate ambitious carbon reductions from rent-regulated housing. 

The hearing is part of the Committee’s Reclaim Our Health, Restore Our Environment initiative this Climate Week. Efforts undertaken by the Committee this week look to address the public health and economic crises brought about by both COVID-19 and climate change. The legislation heard today will help reduce pollution by demanding aggressive, attainable from the City’s largest emitters: large buildings. 

“Today, we followed through on a promise to clean up dirty buildings without the costs being unfairly passed onto renters,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Intro. 1947 will guarantee rent-regulated tenants won’t be forced to breathe in toxins while richer neighborhoods improve their air quality. I want to thank the wide coalition of supporters for their constructive testimony today.”

“The COVID crisis is showing us what happens when you don’t prepare for a crisis. We all see the climate crisis coming, and there’s no excuse for inaction. Thankfully we can see a way out: by tying together the investment in emissions reductions that we need to avert the worst of climate catastrophe with green job growth opportunities to help us recover from the COVID recession. I’m grateful to Council Member Constantinides for his leadership on reducing building emissions and championing Intro. 1947 to extend that effort to rent-regulated buildings so that the benefits of cleaner air and fewer emissions are shared by all neighborhoods,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

“This year’s wildfires on the west coast and hurricanes in the south are once again proof positive that it has to be all hands on deck in the fight to combat climate change,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “In the City Council we must now do the work to pass Int. 1947 so we can build on the success of Local Law 97 and help improve the environment by cleaning our air from harmful pollutants. We do this by demanding more from our large buildings which are our biggest greenhouse gas emitters, however, we cannot do it on the backs of New York City’s renters and middle class. Int.1947 would also help lead to the creation of thousands of good-paying jobs something our City is always in need of.”   

If Intro. 1947 passes it will mandate residential buildings where up to 35% of the units are rent regulated must follow emissions reductions under Local Law 97. That law, the centerpiece of the Climate Mobilization Act, requires buildings 25,000 square feet or larger drastically shrink their carbon footprint by 2030. This will equal a collective 40% emissions reduction by the estimated 55,000 buildings covered under the mandate. Landlords will have flexibility and resources — including the City’s Retrofit Accelerator and a PACE financing system — to hit these goals. 

When it passed the City Council in April 2019, however, Local Law 97 offered an alternative path for rent-regulated buildings. This was always intended to be a short-term rule until Albany fixed the Major Capital Improvement loopholes, which it did last June. Intro. 1947 follows through on a promise to strengthen Local Law 97 once the State Legislature acted. 

Expanding Local Law 97 with Intro. 1947 will add to the economic activity the Climate Mobilization Act is expected to create. The Urban Green Council estimates updating buildings for energy efficiency will create 141,000 jobs over the next decade. 

It will also mean fewer toxins coming out of large buildings, something especially necessary in the age of COVID-19. Already this virus has been linked to higher death rates in over-polluted areas like New Yorker City. Cleaning up large buildings — which emit one-third of the City’s annual greenhouse gases — will be a major step in improving the Big Apple’s public health.  

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 three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

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