New Bills Will Usher in A Green New Deal for New York City

City Hall – The New York City Council on Thursday will vote on the Climate Mobilization Act, a groundbreaking package of bills that is one of the most ambitious and innovative legislative initiatives any major city has ever considered to combat the existential threat of climate change. The centerpiece of the package is a bill that will require large and medium-sized buildings, which account for nearly a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city, to reduce their emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The very worst performing buildings will have to act by 2024 to curb their emissions.

The Council will also vote on a bill that would require a 5-cent fee be imposed on all paper bags distributed by stores, starting on March 1, 2020. In addition, the Climate Mobilization Act includes a bill that mandates the City study the feasibility of replacing in-city gas fired power plants with battery storage systems powered by renewable sources, a bill to authorize a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in the City, and a resolution to calling on the state to deny the Water Quality Certification permit for the construction of the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline (also known as the Williams pipeline) through New York Harbor.

Finally, the Council will vote on several finance and land use items.

Climate Mobilization Act

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Introduction 1253-C, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would mandate that buildings do not emit greenhouse gases at levels higher than the limits set in the legislation. The limits are set based on the occupancy group of the building and are calculated to require emissions reductions from the highest emitting 20% of buildings in each occupancy group for the first compliance date beginning in 2024, and the highest emitting 75% of buildings in each occupancy group for the second compliance date beginning in 2030. The bill would also create the Office of Energy and Emissions Performance within the Department of Buildings (DOB) to oversee the implementation of this legislation, and future bills and policy around building emissions.

Establishing a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program

Introduction 1252-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would establish a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in the City. Authorized by state legislation, PACE is a voluntary financing mechanism that enables energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to receive long-term financing for little or no money down. Further, debt service is generally limited to the amount of money saved through the resulting reductions in energy use. With this program, more building owners will be able to make the alterations required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide.

Clarifying the Inclusion of Large Wind Turbines

Introduction 1317-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would clarify the DOB’s obligation to include wind energy generation in its toolbox of renewable energy technologies. Specifically, it would provide a clear process for the design and construction standards and maintenance and removal protocols for large wind turbines.

Replacement of Gas-Fired Power Plants

Introduction 1318-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would mandate an assessment by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability or such other office as the mayor may designate on the feasibility of replacing in-city gas fired power plants with battery storage systems where appropriate powered by renewable sources. Such an assessment shall include when such replacement could take place, and a review of potential technologies for battery storage of energy. The assessment will be part of the long-term energy plan and shall be updated every four years.

Williams Pipeline Resolution

Resolution 845, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would call upon the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to deny the Water Quality Certification permit for the construction of the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline (also known as the Williams pipeline) through New York Harbor.

“The City Council is poised to pass some of the most ambitious climate legislation in the world to combat and mitigate the dramatic effects of global warming. There is no time to waste. We have to move away from fossil fuel to save our planet and ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren. But we can not to this alone, and it is the City Council’s hope that other municipalities, big and small, will follow on our footsteps,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“The Climate Mobilization Act is a down payment on the future of New York City — one that ensures we lead the way in the ever-growing fight against climate change. Today, we sent that message to the world by enacting the boldest mandate to reduce carbon emissions, tackling one of the biggest drivers of climate change. Our legislation represents over two years of engagement with the various communities, industries and everyday New Yorkers impacted by climate change. This historic day would not be possible without the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson or the support of my colleagues in the New York City Council,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides.

Posting Information on the Installation of Green Roof Systems

Introduction 1031-A, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Espinal, would require the office of alternative energy to post and maintain links on its website to information regarding the installation of green roofs and other resources and materials regarding green roof systems.

Requiring Green Roofs on City Buildings

Introduction 1032-A, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Espinal, would require the inclusion of a sustainable roofing zone (i.e. a photovoltaic electricity generating system or a green roof) in new construction and for buildings undergoing certain major renovations.

“Today, we are passing a bill that won’t just make our skyline prettier – it will also improve the quality of life for New Yorkers for generations to come. My legislation will require green roofs to be installed on new residential and commercial buildings, making New York the largest city in the nation to pass such a law. We’ve already seen the revolutionary benefits of green roofs in action thanks to places like Brooklyn Steel, the Barclays Center, the Javits Center, the USPS Morgan Processing and Distribution Center, and many others. They cool down cities by mitigating Urban Heat Island Effect, cut energy costs, absorb air pollution, reduce storm-water runoff, promote biodiversity, and make our cities more livable for all. I want to thank the advocates who were instrumental in pushing this forward, Council Members Donovan Richards and Stephen Levin for partnering with me on this effort, and Speaker Johnson for his leadership. These bills show that New York will not be idle in the face of an existential threat like climate change. At a time when the federal government is taking us backward, it is up to cities to lead us into a sustainable future. The time to act is now,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal.

Installing Green Roofs on Smaller Buildings

Introduction 276-A, sponsored by Council Member Donovan Richards, would adjust the requirements of Int. 1032-A for smaller buildings and require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to study the implications of compliance with Int. 1032-A on affordability, while also allowing HPD to limit such requirements for certain buildings.

Adjusting Energy Grading Scale

Introduction 1251-A, sponsored by Council Member Andrew Cohen, would address concerns from building owners that say the grading scale of Local Law 33 of 2018 does not accurately reflect a building’s efficiency and may lead to misunderstandings regarding a building’s true efficiency. This bill would call for the adjustment of the grading scale, assigning higher grades to efficient buildings, which they will then be required to post.

“With so many people and cars in NYC, it can be hard to believe that our buildings are the number one contributor of harmful emissions. Bill 1251 is part of a package of bills that will create an energy efficiency grading system for buildings throughout the city. Hopefully this will encourage building owners to make the necessary upgrades to reduce the amount of negative impacts that these large buildings are having on our environment. Thank you to Council Member Constantinides, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection for his determination, and thank you to Speaker Johnson for his leadership,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

Green Roof Tax Abatement Resolution

Resolution 66, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would call upon the State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation that would increase the real property tax abatement for the installation of a green roof to $15 per square foot, which would provide an incentive for property owners to build green roofs.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to our environment — I applaud my colleague, Council Member Costa Constantinides, Speaker Corey Johnson, and my fellow Council Members for advancing this much needed package of bills. We need to use every tool in our toolbox to stop the onslaught of climate change, take care of our local communities, and get serious about protecting our environment for future generations. Which is why today’s comprehensive package is so important: it takes a multi-pronged approach that shifts New York City to cleaner energy and greener infrastructure and presents a bold new vision for our city that I am proud to be a part of,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

Imposing Fee for Paper Bags

Introduction 1527, sponsored by Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin, would require that a 5-cent fee be imposed on paper bags distributed by stores, starting on March 1, 2020. The bill would exempt any customer from paying the fee who uses the supplemental nutrition assistance program, special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, or any successor programs, as full or partial payment toward the items purchased in a covered store.

“Adding a 5-cent fee on paper bags to New York’s new plastic bag ban will dramatically reduce solid waste and make the new policy a genuine win for the environment, and I’m thrilled the Council passed our legislation to be ready for Earth Day. Six years after Council Member Chin and I began this campaign, and two years after Albany pre-empted New York City’s attempt to solve this problem on our own, Albany has finally made the right move for the environment by banning plastic bags statewide. But to truly see a reduction in waste, our policy must encourage people to switch to reusable bags, which everyone can do. I want to thank Speaker Johnson for his strong support of our bill, just one piece of a package of bills passed today that will make New York a greener and more sustainable city, and all of the environmental advocates who fought for many years to finally get rid of plastic bags, and who are as excited as we are to be taking another important step forward for the environment,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

“ As the representative of Lower Manhattan neighborhoods that are still fighting to fully recover from Superstorm Sandy, I am proud to be part of this citywide effort to dramatically reduce waste and combat climate change.This legislation to dramatically reduce paper bag waste will ensure that clogged storm drains, polluted waterways and parkland riddled with non-biodegradable bag waste will be a part of New York City’s past — not its future. While our efforts to create a greener, more resilient City are far from being finished, I am heartened by the process we have been able to make by working together,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

The Council will vote on the following Article XI property tax exemption at the following location:

Prospect Park South Portfolio
in Council Member Mathieu Eugene’s district will provide a partial, 30 year
exemption, to eight buildings to preserve 384 units of affordable housing.

Finally, the Council will vote on the following land use items:

Blondell Commons

An application for a rezoning, zoning text amendment, and street demapping to facilitate the development of a 172-unit 100% affordable housing project in Council Member Mark Gjonaj’s district.

2069 Bruckner

An application for a rezoning, zoning text amendment, and tax exemptions to facilitate the development of two mixed-use buildings, with 65 affordable homeownership units and 265 affordable rental units, in Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr.’s district

New 322-Seat Primary School

Site selection for a new approximately 322-seat public primary school, located at 250 46thStreet in Council Member Carlos Menchaca’s district.

McDonald Avenue Catering

Zoning map amendment to create a
mixed-use district to facilitate the continued operation of a commercial
banquet facility in Council Member Brad Lander’s district.