Today, the Council will vote on four pieces of legislation offering reforms to building codes to promote energy efficiency and health in New York City buildings. In addition, the Council will introduce legislation to allow employees at companies with 20 or more employees to pay for public transportation fare with pre-tax income.

Building Reforms

The building reforms being voted on today include a measure requiring that existing concealed pipes in buildings be outfitted with insulation when exposed during repair or alteration. Current code requires that newly installed pipes be insulated, but many existing pipes lack insulation. Insulating pipes that are exposed during repair or alteration improves energy efficiency and lowers heating costs by reducing the amount of heat emanating from pipes.

“Insulating pipes improves energy efficiency and lowers heating costs and it is only common sense that pipes exposed during alteration or repair work also be insulated. This legislation gives us an opportunity to make New York City more energy efficient and save New Yorkers money. I am proud to introduce this bill and want to thank my colleagues who have joined me as co-sponsors,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

Another measure requires that mold-resistant materials be used in construction and renovation of moisture-prone areas of buildings. This includes walls and ceilings of laundry rooms, certain bathrooms, and spaces containing water tanks and water pumps. Molds are known allergens, irritants, and producers of toxic substances (mycotoxins). They can also trigger asthma attacks and other chronic conditions. In New York City, where the asthma hospitalization rate in some neighborhoods is four times as high as the national average, complaints of mold infestations continue to rise. This bill will reduce mold in moisture-prone areas of buildings.

“Improving the resiliency of our building stock has always been important but was put in starker relief with the damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy,” said Council Member Stephen Matteo. “Many homes in our waterfront communities fell victim to mold and that has made recovery more difficult. These updated standards will make New Yorkers safer and their homes more resilient.”

Additionally, the Council will vote on legislation to allow—but not require—“hold-open” devices to be installed on some stairway entrances. These devices allow easier access to building stairways, while automatically closing doors in the event of a fire. Stair use is good for public health, and stairs are more likely to be used if doors are open.

Finally, the Council will be voting on legislation requiring the use of high-efficiency lighting at construction sites, which will reduce energy usage for lighting by as much as 75%.

Allowing Pre-Tax Subway Fare Purchase

Federal law allows public transit riders to save money by paying up to $130 in fares per month with pre-taxed income, however, offering this option is currently left up to the discretion of employers. Today, Council will introduce a bill that requires any business with more than 20 employees to offer this option to all workers. A New Yorker earning the city’s median income could save $443 every year by taking advantage of this tax break.

“Allowing people to put aside pre-tax income for mass transit benefits is good public policy,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “We want to make is as easy as possible for people to participate.”