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New York rising to challenge of sustainability

JOHN-BANKS-REBNY-WATCH-300x180There are one million buildings in New York City, and they represent 73 percent of our citywide greenhouse gas emissions.

In an effort to help the city reach its goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80 percent by 2050, the City has created the NYC Carbon Challenge, a ground-breaking public-private partnership between the City and the private and institutional sectors aimed at accelerating reductions in the GHG emissions from buildings.

The program has not only been accepted by the private and institutional sectors – it has been embraced and expanded upon, and private sector participation is at an all-time high.

The NYC Carbon Challenge is a 10-year program to improve the energy efficiency of the city’s buildings by encouraging the City’s largest organizations to pledge to reduce their building-based emissions by 30 percent or more over the course of ten years.

By doing so, they are helping the City achieve its 80 x 50 goal, a key component of the Mayor’s OneNYC plan for a strong and just city, as well as setting an example for other buildings to begin to reduce their energy use.

So far, the City’s 17 leading universities, 11 largest hospital organizations, 12 global companies, 19 residential management firms, and 19 hotels have pledged to meet these goals – and some of them have gone even further. Ten participants have already met the 30 percent goal, and 12 other participants (consisting of commercial offices, universities, and hospitals) have actually expanded their commitment to a 50 percent reduction by 2025.

Via Verde/The Green Way in the Bronx is a trendsetting example of affordable green development.
Via Verde/The Green Way in the Bronx is a trendsetting example of affordable green development.

We believe that the NYC Carbon Challenge will play a critical role in helping the city achieve the city’s 80 x 50 goals due to the significant contribution New York City’s buildings make to our citywide emissions today.

Given that over 90 percent of the buildings that exist today will still be here in 2050, they are clearly where the city stands to earn some of the most savings in terms of energy efficiency.

In fact, the current participants in the Challenge have cut their annual emissions by 175,000 metric tons of carbon so far, collectively saving approximately $175 million per year in energy costs. By the time the program is completed, they are expected to have reduced citywide emissions by nearly 510,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Separate and apart from quantifiable savings in emissions and energy costs, the Carbon Challenge also creates a high level of commitment and comradery among its participants, and creates a valuable platform for the exchange of information and ideas.

As these organizations continue working towards their increasingly ambitious emission reduction goals, they discover new and effective ways – whether through existing or emerging technologies – to make the achievement of their common goals possible. Through the sharing of these strategies with other participants, new technologies are able to spread faster and make a bigger difference.

REBNY members have made the GHG reduction commitment as part of the NYC Carbon Challenge for Multifamily Buildings, including AKAM Associates, Charles H. Greenthal Property Management Corp., Douglas Elliman Property Management, First Service Realty New York, and Rose Associates.

Building off of the success that the program has seen in a few of the city’s major real estate sectors, REBNY is now partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to expand the program to include the city’s largest commercial building owners.

Saving energy is not something that can only be achieved by landlords or business owners. Last week, in celebration of Climate Week NYC, the Building Energy Exchange announced its fourth annual Daylight Hour, which will raise awareness about the availability of natural light by having participants turn their lights off on June 16, 2017 from noon to 1 p.m.

Many companies have already signed on as participants, and I encourage each and every one of REBNY’s 17,000 members to participate in the Daylight Hour, which I believe will play a central role in educating the public about the potential for positive change.

There is much room for reductions in citywide energy emissions and the task is being met head on by members of the real estate industry. We must continue to strive to create a more sustainable and economically friendly New York City not only for ourselves, but for our children.

The NYC Carbon Challenge will help solidify New York City’s standing as the world’s leader of sustainability.

In other REBNY News:

Our 8th Annual Summer Donation Drive has been extended through September 30. We’re working with The Bowery Mission to serve homeless and hungry New Yorkers, and REBNY’s members are encouraged to donate soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, shaving cream and more new items to help restore dignity and respect to our city’s homeless community.

Due to popular demand, Sustainability Boot Camp – sponsored by CodeGreen Solutions, Con Edison Solutions, National Grid, NORESCO, and Zones – will continue this Fall with BOMA’s International Energy Efficiency Program: BEEP® Version 2.0! Taught by NORESCO, the eight-hour course will be offered at a discounted cost of $45 per person. Commercial building staff can register for courses online at The energy efficiency and sustainability training pilot program led by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, in collaboration with REBNY, Building Owners and Managers Association of New York (BOMA NY), and Urban Green Council, complements citywide sustainability initiatives including Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC goal of 80 by 50, a blueprint to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

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