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NYC Buildings and Climate Change

Climate change is occurring at an unprecedented rate, and the current trend of warming in Earth’s climate system over the last several decades is clear — the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, sea level has risen, and snow and ice levels have decreased.

Climate change is primarily driven by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Reducing emissions from our buildings is the most significant action the city can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in NYC, as buildings contribute nearly three-quarters of all citywide emissions.

The New York City Council passed a package of legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from and improve energy efficiency for certain buildings in New York City.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
of NYC Emissions are from Buildings

New Laws Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Buildings
by 40%
by 2030

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NYC Buildings and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Buildings make up a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions in NYC. Energy consumption from electricity use, heating, and cooling all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Building owners and managers can improve energy efficiency of building systems and operations and invest in cleaner on-site power generation. They can also support market growth for renewables through power purchase agreements and other mechanisms to procure cleaner energy that is generated off-site.

Building tenants and occupants can reduce their energy consumption, which accounts for 40-60% of a buildings energy use.

Emissions from the city’s power supply can be reduced by power suppliers switching to cleaner energy sources, and by fuel distributors offering low-carbon fuels.

New Yorkers can help reduce greenhouse gasses by more switching to more efficient light bulbs, adjusting their thermostats, unplugging their chargers and electronics when not in use, and purchasing more energy efficient appliances.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Type

Buildings: 71%
On-Road Transportaton: 21%
Fugitive Emissions: 6%
(Pressurized Equipement Leaks)
Transit: 3%
Streetlights: 1%
Source: One City Built to Last

Residential Buildings and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Buildings more than 25,000 square feet, 2017

Click on an individual building’s lot to see its greenhouse gas emissions intensity per square foot for 2017.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Across Buildings in NYC

Buildings emit different amounts of greenhouse gasses, depending on what they are being used for.

We classified buildings based on their operations as a way to compare buildings that have similar energy needs.

Residential buildings contribute the most greenhouse gasses, followed by businesses and institutional buildings.

Storage spaces, places of assembly, factories, senior care facilities, and houses of worship contribute the lowest share to greenhouse gas emissions.

Residential: 36%
Business: 26%
Institutional: 12%
Hospital: 7%
Education: 5%
Hotel: 3%
Mercantile: 2%
City Owned Building (DCAS): 2%
Storage: 1%
Factory: 1%
Senior Care Facility: 1%
Assembly: 1%
Other: 1%
House of Worship: < 1%

Share of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Use
Buildings greater than 50,000 square feet

Average Greenhouse Gas Emission Intensity by Use
Buildings greater than 25,000 square feet

Average Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Of these use groups, hospitals emit the most greenhouse gasses per square foot.

Hospitals are required by law to maintain constant air flow, which is energy intensive. Machines such as MRIs also consume lots of energy.

For these reasons, there are provisions in Int 1253 to ensure that hospitals reduce emissions without impeding on the important work that they do.

Houses of worship and storage facilities emit the least amount of greenhouse gasses per square foot.

These spaces are not occupied most of the time, so don’t have the same energy needs as other buildings.


This new legislative package includes a variety of bills and resolutions that together represent the strongest and most comprehensive attempt to reduce greenhouse gases in NYC.

Read the press release about the legislation.

The legislative package includes bills that:

  • Establishes emissions caps for buildings over 25,000 square feet. This bill also establishes the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance. Read the Bill: Int 1253
  • Require an assessment of the feasibility of replacing the City’s gas-fired power plants with battery storage powered by renewable energy sources. Read the Bill: Int 1318
  • Roofs of certain smaller new residential buildings and non-residential buildings will be equipped with a solar photovoltaic system or a green roof. Read the Bills: Int 276 and Int 1032

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Created by the NYC Council Data Team.