Press Release: NYC to Become First US City to Require Building Energy Grades

This week, the New York City Council approved Intro. 1632A, a bill requiring large buildings to post their energy efficiency scores, and associated grades, near their public entrances. “As the federal government shirks its stewardship of our environment, it is up to cities to step in — and with our energy grade legislation, New York is in the lead,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “Just as restaurants post their health grades and cars advertise their fuel efficiency, buildings will begin posting letter grades corresponding to their energy efficiency scores. This legislation will equip companies and individuals with the data they crave to make more informed decisions about the best place to buy or rent.”

NYC buildings over 50,000 square feet were already required to annually measure their energy and water consumption in a process called benchmarking. In 2016, the City Council passed Council Member Garodnick’s bill expanding the number of buildings required to be benchmarked, by lowering the threshold to 25,000 square feet. However, although property owners are required to report energy performance data to the city, which makes the data available online, it does not require property owners to present this information to prospective tenants or buyers.

With the passage of this new bill, buildings will be assigned a letter grade based on their energy score and landlords will be required to post that grade, along with the energy score, in a visible location near the building’s public entrances. This will make information about a building’s energy use easily available to tenants and visitors, including prospective purchasers or lessees, and presented in the easily understood form of a grade. It will encourage landlords to make energy upgrades to achieve higher scores and attract environmentally conscious tenants, reaping financial benefits while the City reaps environmental benefits.

“As we continue to make our city greener and more sustainable, we must look at buildings, which contribute to 70% of our city’s emissions. INT. 1632A will ensure that the public is aware of how each large building measures up in terms of energy efficiency. Knowledge is power – with the knowledge of energy efficiency scores for each building, New Yorkers can make more informed decisions about their own habits.” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee.

“Nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas pollution in New York City comes from buildings,” says Rory Christian, Director, New York Clean Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. “Requiring large buildings to post their energy efficiency grades is a natural next step in the evolution of the City’s energy policies. It will catalyze energy upgrades, cut pollution and empower tenants to make more informed decisions. Hopefully, this important bill will serve as an example for the rest of country to follow.”

“This is a pioneering piece of legislation that will empower New Yorkers to make more informed decisions about the properties they choose to purchase or rent. It also demonstrates New York City’s continued commitment to leading the charge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings at a time when such leadership is sorely missing at the federal level. History shows that when New York City implements innovative climate policies, other cities around the country follow suit. We hope this bill will have a similarly catalytic effect,” said Danielle Spiegel-Feld, Adjunct Professor of Law at NYU School of Law & Executive Director, Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law.

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