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April 22nd, 2009

NYC Introduces Sweeping “Green” Laws



Utilizing Earth Day as a springboard, New York City’s Mayor and City Council speaker introduced a “suite of laws” today designed to curb the amount of hazardous emissions produced by the city’s largest and oldest buildings.

The law’s planners have projected that by 2022 the city will have generated $2.9 billion in private investments to improve building emissions. They also estimate the plans will save building owners $750 million a year in energy costs, while creating 2,000 jobs in the process.

Starting in 2013, 2,200 buildings a year for 10 years will be audited for their energy efficiency and will thus have to make the necessary energy-efficient upgrades. The city claims that upgrades will only be mandatory for building owners whose audits reveal that the “improvements” can be recouped within five years of energy savings.

The Mayor’s office has already received its fair share of complaints from groups representing property owners and managers:

Officials from the New York chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association said they supported the energy code, lighting improvements and steps requiring energy “benchmarking.” But they said they strongly opposed the biggest component of the plan: the required energy audits and mandatory upgrades.

In a recent letter to the mayor’s office, Angelo J. Grima, the president of the New York chapter, said the plan to have upgrades determined by outside energy auditors could lead to inflated prices and the wrong solutions.

“We believe that the building prioritization of retrofitting is best left in the hands of the building owner/manager, not outside consultants who seek to bundle projects and lead to higher costs for our members,” his letter said.

Other cities like Seattle are joining New York by utilizing stimulus money to create loans programs to help pay for the improvements.

Although the programs are designed to improve the greater good in the years to come, is it right that building owners will be forced to make certain repairs? What’s to stop a law from being written that says every new car purchased after 2010 has to be a hybrid car? Is it OK for our government to demand such things — even if they are designed to benefit the greater good in the long run?

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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