NYC Public Advocate Advances Bill To Incentivize Green Building Projects Citywide

May 3rd, 2023

Press Release

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams today pushed to pass legislation designed to incentivize the building of green projects throughout New York City. The bill, Intro 689, was discussed at a Wednesday morning hearing of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, and would continue the work of increasing efficiency, decreasing emissions, and building a greener New York City.

“Now is the time to continue our support and fight for the sustainability of New York City. It is a scary reality for us and future generations if we do not prioritize climate change and address it head on,” said Public Advocate Williams before the committee. “Every New Yorker deserves access to a safe and healthy home. We must invest in clean energy and actions towards environmental justice. Not only will this allow us to reach our environmental protection goals but it will also allow us to reach economic growth with new jobs.”

In 2019, the city enacted Local Law 97, which requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to meet new energy efficiency standards and greenhouse gas emissions limits by 2024. The law also created an advisory board and climate working group that supports the City on meeting these aggressive sustainability goals, with the goal of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from buildings to 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

The new legislation from the Public Advocate would broaden the parameters for certain green incentives established in that 2019 landmark law to include smaller buildings. By expanding the definition of a green building project to include those undertaken in one to four family homes and eliminating fees for those projects, the bill would provide incentives for owners to improve green energy efficiency. The Public Advocate noted that in implementing this measure, just as with Local Law 97, it would be critical to verify that sustainability standards are truly being met to merit these incentives.

“This bill doesn’t require green building projects but it incentivizes them to move forward with this option,” closed the Public Advocate. “Hopefully, this inspires them to get it done.”

Read the Public Advocate’s full comments at the hearing below.

TESTIMONY OF PUBLIC ADVOCATE JUMAANE D. WILLIAMS

TO THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON

HOUSING AND BUILDINGS

MAY 3, 2023

Good Morning. 

Bringing up the issue with homeowner particularly in black and brown district is crucial. The former Mayor was very surprised when they visited the homes in my district as many thought they were all apartments.

My name is Jumaane D. Williams and I am the Public Advocate for the City of New York. Thank you very much Chair Sanchez and members of the Committee on Housing & Buildings for holding this hearing and allowing me the opportunity to provide testimony. 

The previous administration committed to increasing the sustainability of buildings across our city. Then Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills that were part of his Green New Deal to ensure that we are taking steps forward to address climate change and issues of environmental justice. Local Law 97-2019, which passed in 2019 requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to meet new energy efficiency standards and greenhouse gas emissions limits by 2024. This bill also creates an advisory board and climate working group that supports the City on meeting these aggressive sustainability goals. In addition, these buildings are required to file a report that includes their annual greenhouse gas emission to the Department of Buildings. The main goal is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from buildings to 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. 

To continue the City’s dedication to this issue including some of the great work the Council has done, I hope my colleagues can support my bill, Int 0689-2022. This bill will create a new definition for green building projects that would include 1-4 unit family homes and waive any building permit fees for green projects in these buildings. About 29% of available units right now are 1-2 family homes in New York City. It will capture smaller sized buildings since Local Law 97-2019 applies to larger buildings consisting of 25,000 square feet or more. We must ensure that any project filed can show energy and water efficiency and has a seamless process for the permit waivers. In addition, my colleague, Majority Whip Brooks-Powers is introducing Int 0384-2022, which creates an Office of the Homeowner Advocate within the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. This office will be tasked with providing support to homeowners and connecting them with any needed resources. Int. 0683-2022 will incentivize homeowners of small buildings to take action to reduce gas emissions while Int. 0384-2022 will provide assistance, guidance, and referrals. 

Now is the time to continue our support and fight for the sustainability of New York City. It is a scary reality for us and future generations if we do not prioritize climate change and address it head on. Every New Yorker deserves access to a safe and healthy home. We must invest in clean energy and actions towards environmental justice. Not only will this allow us to reach our environmental protection goals but it will also allow us to reach economic growth with new jobs at the Office of the Homeowner Advocate and close the social equity gap. This bill doesn’t require green building projects but it incentivizes them to move forward with this option. Hopefully, this inspires them to get it done.

Thank you.

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