Report Finds Green Practices Benefit New York's Environment and Economy

August 24, 2020

New York State agencies today issued the 2018-19 Greening New York State Report [PDF]Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., which documents how innovative energy efficiency and sustainability programs have substantially reduced energy use in state buildings, tripled the generation of solar energy over the past two years, and significantly curbed paper use. Most significantly, the report highlights a 22.6 percent reduction in State agency energy use over the last decade, especially in large state buildings, through the New York Power Authority's (NYPA) BuildSmart NY program. The energy reduction exceeded Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's 2012 goal established by Executive Order 88 for reducing energy use 20 percent by 2020. State agencies also cut paper use in half over the last 10 years, and doubled the composting of organic waste over the last five years. Developed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), NYPA, Office of General Services (OGS), and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the report details progress on a wide range of key green initiatives, many of which save State resources or make operations more resilient, both crucial benefits during the State's ongoing response to COVID-19 when it is imperative for agencies to work efficiently.

In addition, the Governor launched the GreenNY Council, a multi-agency working group led by DEC, NYPA, OGS, and NYSERDA and charged it with helping agencies implement the State's lead-by-example directives. The GreenNY Council will also serve as a key resource to support the State's strategy for reducing agency greenhouse gas emissions. Council members have been working together for more than a year to leverage resources, create guidance, harmonize reporting, and make it easier for agencies to meet the State's ambitious climate and sustainability goals.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Through Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State agencies and authorities are redoubling their efforts to prevent waste, curb energy use, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I am proud of the work DEC and our partners are undertaking to demonstrate how to effectively implement these strategies as part of our everyday operations. This report confirms our actions are benefitting New York's environment and the economy."

NYPA President and CEO Gil Quinones said, "NYPA is proud to exceed the goal established by the Governor in Executive Order 88 for a substantial reduction in energy use by this year and to be part of an inspired team charged with helping agencies continue to reduce energy use and their overall environmental footprint. Working together, we are not only meeting the Governor's ambitious energy reduction and sustainability goals, we are reaching higher to protect the environment and make our state healthier for the families who live and work here as well as more resilient for the future."

OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "OGS plays a key part in New York's lead by example efforts, both through procurement and real property services. I am proud of our award-winning achievements in green procurement and committed to working with the Council to enhance sustainability in leased and OGS owned and managed space. The Governor has made it clear that in the absence of federal leadership, New York must take the lead, and that the time for action is now."

NYSERDA Acting President and CEO Doreen M. Harris, "NYSERDA is committed to the Governor's vision of a clean, healthy and prosperous New York. We are a proud partner with our sister agencies as we transition the State toward its goal to achieve 100 percent zero emission electricity by 2040, and advance the statewide scale up of clean, renewable energy."

The Greening New York State Report [PDF]Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. shows that efforts to reduce energy use and waste result in significant savings:

  1. Under NYPA's BuildSmart NY program, large State facilities have reduced Source Energy Use Intensity by 14.4 percent since 2010, and through the implementation of 158 energy efficiency projects committed to by the end of 2019, will decrease energy use 22 percent, achieving the Executive Order's goal of reducing such use 20 percent by 2020;
  2. In 2019 alone, energy efficiency improvements saved New York State an estimated $65 million and reduced CO2 emissions by more than 290,000 tons relative to the baseline of 2010;
  3. Copy paper purchasing decreased 60 percent over the last decade, saving the State $64.1 million since reporting began, and more than $8 million in 2019 alone; and
  4. Cumulatively, these actions accounted for more than $73 million in savings in FY 2018-19.

Additional achievements detailed in the report [PDF]Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. include:

  1. Virtual elimination of the purchase of bottled water by New York State Executive agencies-73 percent of authorities have also eliminated or restricted use to special circumstances, such as soldiers and emergency response personnel;
  2. Purchase of 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, processed chlorine-free copy paper doubling from 22 to 48 percent;
  3. Recycling rate of 66 percent, compared to 50 percent first measured in 2008, and doubling the number of agencies composting organic waste since 2012;
  4. The State's green purchasing program investing $114 million on green products, up $7 million from the previous year, and garnering a national award for the purchase of sustainable electronics in both 2018 and 2019, which will save taxpayer dollars over the lifetime of the equipment;
  5. Generation of nearly 10 million kWh of solar energy for agency use, a 10 percent increase from the previous year and triple the amount generated in 2016; and
  6. Data showing that 20 percent of State employees use public transit, four times higher than the national average of 5.1 percent.

A majority of State agencies have adopted practices to reduce use of energy, materials, toxic chemicals, and water. Several agencies are also managing their outdoor spaces to reduce pollution and increase climate resiliency. Efforts include:

  1. All State facilities covered by EO 88 have completed required energy audits;
  2. 92 percent of agencies use two-sided printing either all or most of the time;
  3. 88 percent of agencies use electronic means to provide documents to the public, and 84 percent use electronic means to receive documents from the public all or most of the time;
  4. 78 percent of agencies use green general-purpose cleaners and 79 percent use less-toxic disinfectants and sanitizers;
  5. 71 percent of agencies use integrated pest management indoors and 47 percent use non-chemical pest control outdoors;
  6. 60 percent of agencies promote the use of the 511NY Rideshare system to help staff carpool;
  7. 53 percent use high-efficiency plumbing fixtures in all or most facilities; and
  8. The majority (54 percent and up) use sustainable landscaping practices at some of their facilities.

In addition, the State announced that 57 green specifications are currently approved for use in state procurement, covering approximately 100 different products such as general purpose cleaning products, disinfectants and sanitizers, furniture, and lighting fixtures. Ten of these specifications were finalized in 2019, including "Imaging Equipment," "Paint," "Trash Bags," and "Reusable Bags." These purchasing specifications all reduce environmental impacts in their product class.

A series of laws, executive orders, and policies have created a strong framework to support New York State government as it strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adopt sustainable practices, including:

  1. The CLCPA, enacted in July 2019, is the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy law in the country, mandating that the state's power system be 100 percent zero carbon by 2040, and that the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 85 percent by 2050. The CLCPA includes the direction to State agencies, authorities, and other entities to lead by example and "assess and implement strategies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions;"
  2. EO 88 requires the same entities to reduce source energy use in State-owned and managed buildings 20,000 square feet or greater; and
  3. The "New Efficiency: New York" whitepaper issued in April 2018, directs agencies to reduce site energy use 11 trillion BTU by 2025 (from the baseline year of 2015) through energy efficiency.
  4. EO 4 directs State agencies, authorities, and other entities to implement a Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship Program and assign an employee to serve as Sustainability and Green Procurement Coordinator;
  5. EO 18 directs New York State Executive agencies to eliminate the expenditure of State funds for the purchase of bottled water.

The full report is available online [PDF]Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. on the state's "GreenNY" website, along with more details about New York's efforts to green state purchasing and operations.

For information about energy efficiency programs for large buildings, visit NYPA's BuildSmart NYLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. webpage.