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The Next Stop on New York’s Road to Carbon Neutral Buildings Starts with Building Owners


New York is leading the way in the fight against climate change. As the State progresses forward, building owners have a fundamental role to play in our success.

To understand their role, it’s important to understand how we got here. Let’s take a look at the State’s progress over the past year.

How We Got Here

With the 2019 signing of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act), New York set some of the most ambitious and forward-thinking clean energy goals in the country, requiring that the State reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050.

These goals were mirrored in regional laws, such as New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act (CMA), which includes legislation requiring owners of buildings in New York City over 25,000 square feet to substantially reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over time, enabling the city to meet its targets of 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The law would affect 50,000 of the city’s buildings.

The CMA also requires the study of a citywide emissions trading scheme for carbon credits which, if enacted, may lead to an increase in value and revenue potential for carbon neutral buildings whose performance would meet or exceed the mandated levels.

With these clean energy commitments, the business landscape for building owners Statewide is set to evolve quickly over the next several years. Owners will be responsible for making significant upgrades to their existing buildings to comply with new standards put in place.

Retrofitting: A Smart Solution

Retrofitting New York’s current building stock and enabling building owners to make significant energy-saving improvements through programs like RetrofitNY has emerged as an initiative to help reach the State’s clean energy goals. It will also help owners to adapt and work toward the evolving building standards.

Additionally, carbon neutral retrofits go beyond compliance and can help building owners mitigate the rising costs and risks posed by increasing insurance premiums, rising energy and water costs, unpredictable maintenance expenses, and increased health concerns regarding air quality.

But in order to make these improvements at scale and help the State make its net zero vision a reality, these high-performance solutions need to be more accessible. Right now, the retrofit solutions that significantly reduce maintenance time and expenses are not yet widely available, due to their high cost.

It is fundamental that these solutions are easily accessible and fit building owner’s needs. Doing so will give building owners an attainable way to work toward compliance with new laws, prepare for imminent changes in the market and reduce risk in their building portfolios, all while enhancing the performance and value of their building assets.

Be a part of the growing movement: learn more and get involved today through the Empire Building Challenge.