Climate change is a world-wide issue. While there are many discussions regarding possible solutions, New York City has officially taken action by enacting a sweeping local law meant to curb energy usage and carbon emissions produced by existing residential and commercial buildings. It’s the first city to take such a measure for existing buildings. NYC’s buildings account for 95% of the electricity use in the city and the energy used to heat them is the largest contribution to carbon dioxide emissions. While this new law is meant to have great benefits to New York’s urban environment, what does it really mean for its renters?
What buildings are affected?
The legislation passed by the city council in April this year, focuses on buildings larger than 25,000 sq. ft., or made of up to 2 or more buildings either on the same tax lot, or in a condominium form of ownership and that exceeds 50,000 sq. ft. Basically, if you live in a building at least 6-7 stories high, containing at least 50 apartment units, your building is affected.
Meant to monitor and reduce the greenhouse gas emission by becoming more energy efficient, the buildings are expected to cut down 40% on emission by 2030. Therefore, starting with January 1st, 2024, they are to be upgraded or retrofitted to abide to a determined annual emission limit, which varies based on the type of building – residential, commercial, or industrial – or be significantly fined.
In other words, building owners will have to embrace a restoration process meant to convert their buildings into more energy efficient edifices. This means using renewable energy, implementing better insulation and windows, more efficient heating and air conditioning systems, and encouraging a more environment-aware behavior among occupants.
How are renters affected?
In the next years, many buildings in New York City will be undergoing renovations to meet the requirements by 2024, when the law will officially be implemented. This may cause somewhat of an inconvenience for tenants as some renovations may require longer periods of time. However, in the long run, the upgrades will lead to reduced utility costs, and a better environment. And in a city like New York, a smaller natural gas bill can make a big difference.
While the new law does not directly require occupants to make any changes, all of us will benefit from them. This city law is not expected to increase the rents as it affects all buildings that fit in the size limits.
There are some exceptions as far as property types go, so it is important to note that not everyone will be affected. Residential buildings with at least one rent-regulated unit, any income-restricted coops, and public housing and city-owned buildings are all exempt. While there will be alternative plans to make those buildings more energy efficient as well, they will not be subject to the stringent requirements imposed by this specific law.
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