First Electric Generation. Then Transportation. What About Buildings?

On Monday, EnergyWire (subscription required) reported that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has unveiled a plan to cap fossil fuel use in buildings in New York City.  (I haven’t seen the specific plan, but it is referenced in City’s overall plan, “1.5°C:  Aligning New York City with the Paris Climate Agreement,” that the City just released.)  The building plan is based on data gathered as a result of local ordinances requiring buildings with more than 25,000 square feet to report energy and water use.  EnergyWire quotes Office of Sustainability Direct Mark Chambers as saying the focus of the effort will be to move the lower performing buildings up to the average.

Of course, there are generally reasons why the worst performers are not the best performers.  Building owners will be interested to know the details of the City’s commitment to provide financing assistance to make the necessary efficiency upgrades.

As we reported in 2013, Boston has a similar benchmarking law.  At the time, the City was insistent that this was simply a reporting law – the idea being that the presence of an “MPG sticker” on a building would allow the market to work, as buyers and renters began to insist that buildings be more energy efficient.

When the Boston ordinance was proposed, I stated that:

Whether, at some point down the road, the City starts regulating energy use intensity is a question for another day.

I think that the day is arriving, and sooner than many people expected.

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