Legislation Would Strengthen Building Codes and Expand Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards

March 16, 2021

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proposed the Advanced Building Codes, Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act of 2021 to significantly strengthen the State's building codes, improve energy and water efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. This legislation was introduced along with a report [PDF] submitted to the New York State Legislature from the New York State Energy and Research Authority and the New York State Department of State highlighting increased appliance energy efficiency standards would save New Yorkers $15 billion by 2035, with 40 percent of savings delivered to low-to-moderate income residents. Today's announcement supports Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate and clean energy goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

"Advancing stronger building codes and energy efficient appliance standards is a win-win for New Yorkers, setting a higher bar not only for our State's building stock, but for the products we use every day," Governor Cuomo said. "This comprehensive legislation reduces energy and water consumption, makes sure substandard products will be removed from the market, and enhances the quality of products available, all while reducing emissions that contribute to climate change. This is a step forward to help lower utility bills and improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers."

"Modernizing our building codes and improving energy efficiency standards is yet another way New York is working to create a cleaner, greener post-pandemic future," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. "Not only will this legislation reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change, it will help New Yorkers save on energy costs."

This legislation will help New York State adopt an energy code that will keep the State at the forefront of addressing climate change mitigation, building efficiency and energy savings. It requires that the next New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code be updated to put the energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions from these actions on a course to contributing to the emissions reductions required by the Climate Act. Strengthening the Energy Code with updates that allow the State to establish new energy efficiency standards for buildings, such as requiring greenhouse gas emission reduction in the design criteria. It will also increase efficiency, reduce environmental impact of buildings, and result in lower energy use and operation costs. Establishing a stronger energy code could deliver an estimated 21 million metric tons lifetime carbon emissions reduction and $2.5 billion in lifetime bill savings for measures installed through 2030.

Additionally, the legislation expands appliance standards categories to cover a wider range of products and protects consumer interests by preventing appliances that do not meet minimum performance levels from being sold, leased, or installed, thereby removing them from the market. The report released today shows that by 2025 the average household could save $85 per year on their energy and water utility bills, through increased energy and water efficiency associated with appliance standards. By 2035, improved appliance standards could save New York consumers $1.3 billion per year while conserving 52 billion gallons of water annually and reducing emissions equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road. The proposed legislation is based on standards advancing in other states, building a larger market for advanced products and reducing the cost of products faster.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Acting President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of Governor Cuomo's comprehensive clean energy agenda and a critical component of reducing harmful emissions in buildings and homes across the state. Today's announcement is yet another action that New York is taking seriously the imperative for statewide energy efficiency strategies that conserve energy, provide consumer savings and bring us closer to achieving the state's ambitious emission reduction goal."

Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York State is leading the way in building a bold green economy. Adopting more energy efficient building codes and appliance standards will not only bring us one step closer to meeting New York's ambitious clean energy goals, but will also mean real savings to New York consumers."

Senator Robert Jackson said, "New Yorkers understand the many environmental and economic benefits of promoting the efficient use of energy. That's why I'm proud to have sponsored the bill calling for the report that has led to this study and the Governor's call for changes in energy efficiency statutes based on it. I look forward to all residents of our state enjoying the benefits of both emissions and utility bill reductions that result from improved energy efficiency of household appliances and buildings. The required reporting in this proposal and the updates to our energy codes will help bring that efficiency within reach."

Senator Kevin Parker said, "As we continue to work towards meeting our ambitious clean energy goals in NYS I applaud Governor Cuomo and NYSERDA for launching new initiatives that will expand building codes, appliance and equipment efficiency. This legislation will work to combat climate change and will reduce carbon emissions, while saving New Yorkers a significant amount in electricity bills."

Assembly Member Michael Cusick said, "As our state works towards achieving the energy efficiency and climate goals set forth by the CLCPA, we must continue to find ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse emissions. Strengthening the state's building codes to improve energy efficiency will go a long way towards reducing emissions statewide but it also has a tremendous economic benefit, saving New York consumers billions of dollars in energy costs in the coming decade."

Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Policy Analyst Sam Wilt said, "This legislation will deliver stronger appliance standards and building codes, and is a long term investment for New Yorkers; reducing air and climate pollution and energy bills, especially for our most energy burdened households, for decades to come. These codes and standards are necessary to meet the state's ambitious CLCPA goals and protect future generations from the worst impacts of climate change."

New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said, "Improved energy efficiency reduces emissions and energy use, cuts costs, and is one of the most important tools at our disposal for meeting the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act's goals. With this legislation to strengthen building efficiency and appliance standards, New York is leading on climate action. We thank NYSERDA and the New York State Department of State for their bold leadership and look forward to working the legislature to enact this important climate policy."

Urban Green Council CEO John Mandyck said, "Energy efficiency is our first and best climate strategy for buildings. This legislation will drive cost-effective, low-carbon building design across the state, while helping to unlock the market for more-efficient appliances that save New Yorkers money. Urban Green applauds the State's effort to harness codes and standards to achieve the nation-leading targets in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act."

Energy efficiency is a significant part of New York State's clean energy economy and helps support statewide building decarbonization through improved appliance standards, building mandates, and advanced building codes. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and New Efficiency: New York provide a comprehensive set of strategies for delivering energy efficiency savings, reducing emissions and establishing state appliance standards. These efforts are critical to reducing energy consumption by 185 TBTU by 2025, the equivalent of powering 1.8 million homes while creating as many as 50,000 new jobs.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieving its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including over $4 billion invested in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities and advancing progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.