Renovating New York City’s buildings to high-performance standards when they change hands is crucial to the City reaching its ambitious goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
That’s the key finding in the latest Architecture 2030 report Achieving 80×50: Reducing Energy Use, Creating Jobs, and Phasing Out Carbon Emissions in New York City’s Buildings, presented by Founder and CEO Edward Mazria last week at a major event in New York City hosted by coalition and community-building organization ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York.
New York City contains about one million buildings comprising 5.75 billion square feet of building stock. Its buildings are responsible for 71% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and 94% of its electricity consumption.
While requiring new buildings to become more efficient and renovating city-owned buildings are both important, in order to meet the city’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by the year 2050, most of the city’s existing building stock must also be renovated to high-performance standards over the next 35 years.
Tying Renovation to the Purchase of Buildings
The key to addressing New York’s existing building stock is private sector building purchases.
There are about 26,000 buildings bought and sold in New York City each year, meaning approximately 900,000 buildings will change hands over the next 35 years.
Achieving 80×50 calls for building buyers to improve the greenhouse gas emissions from their new property by choosing one of the following options:
- Upgrade their newly-purchased building to high-performance standards and/or incorporate renewable energy systems. (This is particularly attractive as many owners will already be renovating these buildings upon purchase prior to occupancy.)Or:
- Conduct non-intrusive efficiency upgrades (the ‘low-hanging fruit’ that does not disturb building occupants) and purchase non-GHG emitting renewable energy (from new renewable energy generation installed within the metropolitan area) to meet the City’s emissions reduction targets.
The first option creates additional efficiency construction investment, and the second creates minimum efficiency upgrades and weatherization, and a robust market for renewable energy generation, both leading to long-term investment, job growth, and emissions reductions.
The emissions reduction standards and efficiency requirements would be administered primarily through New York City’s building energy code, which would be updated every three years to more stringent emissions reduction (fossil fuel energy consumption) requirements.
Since buyers are likely to finance or invest funds for building purchases (and in many cases planning to renovate), the additional expense to renovate to high-performance standards is minimal when compared to the purchase and renovation cost.
Economic Benefits and Job Creation
In addition to ensuring that the city meets its 80×50 emissions reduction target, adopting the recommendations in Achieving 80×50, New York City will:
- create over 80,000 new jobs,
- receive about $500 million in new tax revenue (to renovate public housing, create training programs, offer incentives for even greater efficiency renovations, etc.),and
- reduce energy consumption and energy bills.
“Achieving 80×50 is a practical and powerful plan to ensure that New York City can reach its bold and necessary emissions reduction targets,” said Edward Mazria.