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Carbon emissions bill for large NYC buildings headed to City Council

The bill aims to curb emissions by buildings that are over 25,000 square feet.

Councilmember Costa Constantinides, who represents District 22 in

Councilmember Costa Constantinides, who represents District 22 in Queens, announces plans to bring his environmental regulation bill to the City Council on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Ivan Pereira

City Councilman Costa Constantinides announced Tuesday that his long-gestating legislation to reduce carbon emissions  from some of the city's largest buildings will finally be introduced to the City Council.

Constantinides, who chairs the Committee on Environmental Protection, said Council Speaker Corey Johnson backs the bill, which would require buildings  of over 25,000 square feet to implement new measures  to reduce their greenhouse gas output. The bill will be introduced at  a council hearing next week. Constantinides said that while  such large buildings make up a small share of the 1 million properties in the city, they account for an overwhelming 30 percent of building emissions.

"We have to stand up, we have to be bold," Constantinides, who first announced the bill in August, said at a news conference Tuesday .

Under the legislation, an Office of Building Energy Performance  would be created under the Department of Buildings to oversee compliance for the larger buildings. Constantinides said buildings that emit the most greenhouse gas will have to comply earlier than those that emit less.

Buildings greater than 50,000 square feet will have to meet the new regulations, and retrofit their properties with energy-efficient technology, according to Constantinides. 

The councilman said there will be provisions to protect tenants who live in rent-regulated buildings. Buildings larger than 25,000 square feet would have to comply with Local Law 87, which currently applies  to properties that are greater than 50,000 square feet, conduct a periodic energy audit and perform retro-commissioning measures.  The work would not be counted  toward capital improvement — a metric that can be used to raise rents, according to the bill.

"We have never wanted landlords to do the work off the back of the tenants," Constantinides said. 

The bill has the backing of several environmental and community groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and New York Communities for Change. 

“The weather and climate are already going haywire as the climate crisis accelerates rapidly," Jonathan Westin, director of New York Communities for Change, said in a statement. "As California burns and people are fleeing from fires and floods worldwide, this is the leadership we need to stop this crisis. We’re ready to fight for our City. We urge the Council to pass this vital legislation and the Mayor to sign it.”

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