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Mayor de Blasio greenlights massive energy retrofit program

Mayor Bill de Blasio this week announced the official launch of the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, which will provide free technical assistance and advisory services for building owners to go green through critical energy efficiency, water conservation, and clean energy upgrades.

The program is anticipated to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by roughly one million metric tons per year by 2025, by accelerating retrofits in up to 1,000 properties per year by 2025 – the equivalent of almost 200,000 passenger vehicles taken off the roads – while saving New Yorkers an estimated $350 million a year in utility costs and generating over 400 local construction-related jobs.

The city if offering free help to owners who want to improve energy efficiency.
The city if offering free help to owners who want to improve energy efficiency.

“Business as usual simply won’t do when our very survival is at stake. That’s why we’ve outlined ambitious and necessary goals for a greener New York City as we work to reduce our emissions 80 percent by 2050 – and we’re ensuring that building owners have the tools they need to go green through the NYC Retrofit Accelerator,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“The Retrofit Accelerator will build on the incredibly successful work of the Carbon Challenge and NYC Clean Heat as we continue to push toward a stronger, more sustainable New York City.”

The NYC Retrofit Accelerator is a key step forward as the City works toward a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, with a goal of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050.

With buildings comprising nearly three-quarters of New York City’s emissions, Mayor de Blasio unveiled a plan last year ­– One City, Built to Last – that committed to retrofitting all public buildings with any significant energy use by 2025, and supporting (and, if needed, mandating) many private buildings to do the same.

Those goals were expanded upon in OneNYC, released this spring.

The Retrofit Accelerator will provide a dedicated team of efficiency advisors free of charge to assist building owners and operators take action, including selecting cost-saving retrofit projects for their buildings, completing the necessary permitting, acquiring financing and incentives to help cover the costs, training building staff, and completing measurement and verification of the completed measures.

The Accelerator will use the information collected by Local Laws 84 and 87 of 2009, which require buildings to measure their energy and water use annually and conduct an energy audit and retro-commissioning once every ten years, providing information about potential areas for efficiency improvements.

The program is geared toward buildings that are required to comply with Local Laws 84 and 87, that are still burning heavy heating oil (No. 6 or No. 4 oil), or that are participating in an NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) or NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) program; however, the Accelerator will also work with small buildings that don’t have to comply with the City’s building energy regulations in order to determine the right program to improve their efficiency.

Mayor de Blasio also announced today a major expansion of the NYC Carbon Challenge, with over 700 multifamily residential buildings joining nearly 40 major institutions in pledging to voluntarily reduce their building-based emissions by 30 percent or more within ten years.

More than two-thirds of the 700 multifamily buildings participating in the Challenge are affordable housing or serve low-to-moderate income residents.

NYU Langone Medical Center
NYU Langone Medical Center

Nearly 40 universities, hospitals, commercial firms, and residential property management companies have made the Carbon Challenge pledge, including 12 that have expanded their commitment to a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2025: Barnard College, Bloomberg LP, Deutsche Bank, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Google, the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Medical Center, NewYork Presbyterian/Queens, New York University, NYU Langone Medical Center, and the School of Visual Arts.

In total, current participants make up more than 250 million square feet of real estate and account for nearly seven percent of citywide building-based emissions.

These participants are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 515,000 metric tons (the equivalent of removing more than 100,000 passenger vehicles from the city’s roads) and save $220 million in reduced energy costs by the end of the program.

The Retrofit Accelerator will build on the successful program model of NYC Clean Heat in assisting private building owners; it will also continue Clean Heat’s work directly by providing assistance to owners of buildings still burning No. 4 heavy heating oil in converting to cleaner fuel.

This summer, No. 6 heating oil – the most polluting heating oil previously available in New York City – was fully phased out in New York City. Across the five boroughs, there is a 99.8 percent compliance rate with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s regulations banning the use of No. 6 oil.

Since 2012, a total of nearly 6,000 buildings in NYC have converted from No. 6 or No. 4 oil to a cleaner fuel – with 1,500 conversions happening in the last year alone. PM 2.5 emissions from buildings that were previously burning No. 6 and No. 4 oil have been reduced by 65 percent.

Overall, citywide reductions in sulfur dioxide levels have dropped 69 percent since 2008 and citywide PM 2.5 emissions have been reduced by 23 percent – estimated to prevent roughly 600 premature deaths, 400 hospital admissions, and 1,200 emergency department visits in New York City each year.

“This is New Yorkers at their best – helping each other to fight climate change, cut costs, and clean up our air pollution, all while creating green jobs,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

“Building data and proven strategies all come together in the Retrofit Accelerator, while our great institutions are leading the way to cut carbon and energy costs.

“Everyone wins, from kids with asthma and seniors, to construction workers and engineers. New Yorkers pulling together like this is what it will take to reach our goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. This is what OneNYC looks like.”


“The NYC Retrofit Accelerator is an innovative resource that will encourage energy efficient retrofits. We are excited to see such a critical piece of the 80×50 effort come to fruition,” said Real Estate Board of New York President John H. Banks, III.

“Between Clean Heat’s tremendous success, the expansion of Carbon Challenge, and now the NYC Retrofit Accelerator’s launch, New York City continues to lead the world by example in regard to sustainability.”

“A more sustainable New York is clearly a better New York, and the Retrofit Accelerator, Clean Heat, and the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge are robust tools to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Bill Rudin, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York.


“FirstService Residential is committed to helping our clients implement effective strategies that reduce emissions, costs and improve efficiency,” said Dan Wurtzel, President of FirstService Residential, New York City’s largest manager of residential properties and the first to join the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge for Multifamily Properties.

“Nearly 80 of our managed buildings covering 16.5 million square feet have pledged to reduce emissions by 30 percent in 10 years. Working together through initiatives such as the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment to the benefit of all residents in this great city.”

Building owners can now register for the Accelerator by visiting or calling 311.

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