New York City has passed its six-point Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s existing buildings. The plan includes four bills that are estimated to save consumers $700 million annually in energy costs, while creating 17,880 jobs.

Approximately 80 percent of the city’s carbon footprint comes from building energy use and it is estimated that 85 percent of today’s existing buildings will be in use in 2030. The plan aims to meet the goals of PlaNYC, announced on Earth Day 2009, to achieve a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.  It’s estimated that the bills passed under the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan will reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 4.75 percent. The legislation includes include:

-         Int. No. 564-A: Legislation that creates a New York City energy code that existing buildings will have to meet when making renovations. Currently New York uses the International Energy Conservation Code, but a loophole in the state energy code allows non-compliant systems to remain in use. This new legislation requires all building to fully comply with the IECC for any portions of a building being renovated.

-         Int. No. 476-a: Legislation requiring large building owners to make an annual benchmark analysis of energy consumption. This applies to all private buildings greater than 50,000 square feet and public buildings greater than 10,000 square feet. Building owners will be required to use a free online tool provided by the Environmental Protection Agency to track energy and water consumption.

-         Int. No. 973-A: Legislation requiring commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet to upgrade their lighting and sub-meter tenant spaces over 10,000 square feet. Systems must be upgraded to meet the requirements of the New York City Energy Conservation Code.

-         Int. No. 967-A: Legislation requiring large private buildings to conduct energy audits once every 10 years and implement energy efficient maintenance practices. City-owned buildings over 10,000 square feet must conduct audits and complete energy retrofits that pay for themselves within seven years. This bill is estimated to cover nearly half of the built square footage of New York City. However, exemptions for buildings that face severe financial hardship are included in the bill.

The Greener, Greater Buildings Plan includes two additional initiatives: Workforce development training and green building financing. Under the training initiative, a group of key stakeholders will be tasked with identifying the workforce needs and opportunities created by the plan’s passage, and will be responsible for ensuring that there is an adequate supply of skilled technicians to implement the legislation. Recognizing that some building owners may not be able to finance improvements upfront, New York City will establish a revolving loan fund using $16 million in Energy Efficiency and Conservation block Grants as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.