Renewable Energy Initiatives in New York City

by Lisa DiCaprio, NYC Group Conservation Chair


Initiatives by the NYC City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio illustrate how various sites can transition from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy.
The NYC People’s Climate March and the UN Climate Summit, held in NYC in September 2014, inspired a City Council resolution in support of the march [1] and the announcement of the City Council’s Comprehensive Platform to Combat Climate Change, comprising policies and legislation to reduce NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions 80% relative to a 2005 baseline by 2050, increase the efficiency of NYC’s buildings, improve NYC’s air quality, reduce the carbon footprint of municipal operations, invest in low-carbon transportation, plan for a more equitable and greener NYC, and increase employment in the green economy. [2]
Mayor de Blasio’s statement of support for the City Council bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 [3] included a new, green building plan: One City, Built to Last: Transforming New York City’s Buildings for a Low-Carbon Future, which highlights how buildings are responsible for over 70% of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions. The plan calls for retrofitting 3,000 city-owned buildings (public buildings, schools and public housing) by 2025 and providing private building owners with incentives for efficiency upgrades. [4]
Since the People’s Climate March, Mayor de Blasio’s sustainability initiatives include updating Mayor Bloomberg’s PlanNYC with OneNYC [5] and committing NYC to obtaining electricity for all NYC-owned buildings and facilities from renewable sources [6], expanding the number of electrical vehicles in NYC’s non-emergency fleet of vehicles [7], and installing 1,000 MW of solar power in NYC by 2030 [8].
Sampling of NYC bills from 2015 and 2016
Here are seven NYC bills introduced in the City Council in 2015 and 2016 to facilitate geothermal, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and charging stations for electrical vehicles. See the City Council website ( for more details, such as the name of the Council member who introduced the bill, the list of co-sponsors, hearing transcripts and the current status of these bills.
  • Int. 0609-2015 (amended version), signed into law by Mayor de Blasio on January 5, 2016. Mandates identifying buildings appropriate for geothermal systems; takes into account the social cost of carbon in determining the cost-effectiveness of installing a geothermal system. [9]
  • Int. 1159-2016 Requires a feasibility study of the costs of installing solar water heating and thermal energy systems on city-owned buildings, and mandates the installation of these systems when it’s cost-effective. [10]
  • Int. 0478-2014 (amended version), signed into law by Mayor de Blasio on March 14, 2016. Mandates the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to identify the NYC-owned building rooftops with potential for installation of a photovoltaic system. [11]
  • Int. 0739-2015 Creates a solar ombudsperson position within the NYC Department of Buildings. [12]
  • Int. 0694-2015 Mandates increasing the number of electric-vehicle charging stations in open parking lots and parking garages. [13]
  • Int. 0844-2015 The Department of Citywide Administrative Services must install solar canopies, if cost-effective, on all city-controlled parking lots; 50% or more of these parking spaces with solar canopies must support electric-vehicle charging stations. [14]
  • Int. 1124-2016 (amended version), signed into law by Mayor de Blasio on December 6, 2016. Establishes a pilot program for the installation of electric-vehicle charging stations in publicly accessible locations. [15]



[1] See Res 0356-2014 People’s Climate March NYC:

[2] See for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s September 19, 2014 press release which provides detailed information on the Comprehensive Platform to Combat Climate Change. Prior to this platform, the City Council passed over 100 bills to promote sustainability in NYC.

[3] For the text of this bill, which was enacted in December 2014, see Int. 0378-2014:|Text|&Search=0378-2014

[4] See for Mayor de Blasio’s September 21, 2014 press release. For the One City: Built to Last website, see:  One City: Built to Last includes a commitment to installing 100 MW of solar power on NYC-owned buildings. See:

[5]  See, for Mayor de Blasio’s Earth Day, April 22, 2015 press release on OneNYC and for the OneNYC website.

[6] See  for Mayor de Blasio’s July 10, 2015 press release which notes that electricity for city-owned buildings costs NYC taxpayers between $600 and $650 million a year.

[7] See: Michael M. Grynbaum, “New York City Aims for Vast Electric Car Fleet by 2025,” New York Times, December 1, 2015

[8] See:  For an update on solar power installations in NYC, see: Kaya Laterman, “Is New York Ready for Solar Power?,” New York Times, September 30, 2016:

[9] For Int. 0609-2015, see:  For an explanation of the social cost of carbon, see: Michael Greenstone and Cass R. Susskind, “Donald Trump Should Know This is What Climate Change Costs Us,” New York Times, December 15, 2016:

[10] For Int. 1159-2016, see:|Text|&Search= This bill also incorporates the social cost of carbon in determining cost-effectiveness.

[11] For Int. 0478-2014, see:

[12] For Int. 0739-2015, see:|Text|&Search=

[13] For Int. 0694-2015, see:|Text|&Search=

[14] For Int. 0844-2015, see:|Text|&Search=int.+844

[15] For Int. 1124-2016, see:|Text|&Search=

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