Big New York buildings would improve energy efficiency under mayor's plan

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Mayor Bill de Blasio will lay out a plan today that would require thousands of buildings to comply with new energy-efficiency targets by 2030, or face penalties.

De Blasio rolled out the proposal, versions of which the City Council have been considering for years, in the Washington Post as he seeks reelection this November.

"It's important that we feel that we're fighting this crisis like our lives depend on it, because in fact they do", Mayor de Blasio said at a press conference in Brooklyn Bridge Park, with Lower Manhattan's skyline as a backdrop. A 1 million-square-foot building could be hit with a $2 million annual fine for failing to meet its target. They can front the money.

"The city's goals could inadvertently promote buildings that use less overall energy without regard to how the energy is used", said REBNY president John Banks. For example, a 54-unit apartment building in the Bronx that recently replaced its boiler and invested in efficiency improvements could have saved $8,000 a year in debt payments under that program, called Property Assessed Clean Energy. "A trading floor with many terminals and employees might not meet targets, but an empty windowless building used for storage would meet the target".

And on the other end of the spectrum, some tenant advocacy groups were anxious rent-regulated or stabilized tenants could be hit with permanent rent hikes known as "Major Capital Improvement" increases under state law, and which landlords can apply to enact after spending money on upgrades.

"We are horrified that this proposal does not protect rent regulated tenants from having to pay a rent increase & need an explanation", group Tenants & Neighbors tweeted.

"I think we gave people a very fair amount of time in the private sector to come forward", he said, but did not get enough takers - despite his administration's previous assertions it was on track to meet its goals. "I'm not shocked they didn't", he said. He said he plans to roll out other proposals in the coming months to reduce pollution, in an effort to mitigate the effects of President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate. The plan will be enacted by legislation that will be sponsored by City Council Member Costa Constantinides.

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