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Urban Green Council

About Urban Green Council

Urban Green Council's mission is to transform NYC buildings for a sustainable future. Their focus on climate change requires them to target energy and other resource management. As we improve energy and other resource management, we can deliver a more resilient, efficient, healthy, and affordable city.

Headquarters Location

55 Board Street, 9th Floor

New York, New York, 10004,

United States

(212) 514-9385

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Latest Urban Green Council News

Lawmakers clash with city on renewable energy credit limits for Local Law 97

Nov 15, 2022

The law allows for unlimited use of energy credits. Under the draft rules, the only restriction the Buildings Department would place on the credits is to limit their use to emissions from electricity use. The stipulation means the credits could not be used to offset fossil fuels burned for heat and hot water, indicating that the commercial sector, which uses a greater share of electricity, would benefit from the credits more than the residential sector. A cleaner electricity carbon coefficient for 2030 to 2034 would also mean that each credit would offset less carbon as the years goes on. The Real Estate Board of New York argues that such a measure “substantially limits” a property owner’s ability to use the energy credits. “The effect of the proposed rule is to make compliance more difficult for building owners at a time when inflation is raising the costs of projects, interest rate hikes are making securing financing more challenging, and the city’s economy has yet to fully rebound,” REBNY wrote in testimony submitted to the Buildings Department. The comptroller’s office analysis found the Buildings Department's current draft rules would allow two-third of total building emissions to be eligible for credits instead of retrofit reductions. Without additional limits on the energy credits, according to the comptroller's report, buildings would reduce only 31% of emissions during the 2030-34 compliance period—Local Law 97 seeks to cut building emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Along with the 30% credit cap, Lander is calling on the city to beef up incentives and penalties to encourage building retrofits. He argues a Green Affordable Housing Fund should be established for those with emission overages to pay into instead of fees to fund retrofit costs for affordable housing. Boston, for instance, has its own version of Local Law 97 that includes a similar mechanism known as the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund. Christopher Halfnight, senior director of policy and research at the nonprofit Urban Green Council, described the Buildings Department's draft rules as “practical, comprehensive and forward looking.” But even with limiting energy credits to electricity use, he said, he is “concerned the current framework risks allowing RECs [renewable enegy credits] to become far too big a compliance path.” Using 2019 data, Urban Green analyzed the potential outcome if all buildings covered by Local Law 97 purchased as many energy credits as possible to comply with the 2030 carbon caps. The organization estimates that, so long as the credits are available for purchase, more than one-quarter of multifamily properties and two-thirds of office properties above their 2030 emissions limits could comply with those caps exclusively through buying up energy credits. Roughly 50% of the emissions over the 2030 limits could be offset solely through the energy credits, according to Urban Green’s analysis. Similarly to Lander’s recommendations, Urban Green is urging the Buildings Department to enact greater limits on the credits along with the creation of a new option to make an alternate compliance payment into an Equitable Buildings Fund. In a letter earlier this month, 26 City Council members called on the Adams administration to develop rigid regulations on renewable energy credits. Multiple council members reiterated those concerns during Monday’s hearing. Laura Popa, deputy commissioner of sustainability at the Buildings Department, pushed back on lawmakers' complaints about the credits as a compliance tool, and noted that the unlimited use of renewable energy credits is written into Local Law 97. Additional limits on the credits, which Popa said the department endeavors to add, can come in the form of future rulemaking or amendments to the law by the City Council. “[The draft] rule does not water down Local Law 97. The way the law is written RECs are already unlimited,” Popa said during the hearing. “So it's our task here to work together to figure out how we can limit them smartly, whether that be through a DOB rule or through further council legislation.”

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Urban Green Council Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Where is Urban Green Council's headquarters?

    Urban Green Council's headquarters is located at 55 Board Street, 9th Floor, New York.

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