New York Focus, June 27, 2022
Recent transmission projects could enable building owners to get out of upgrading their buildings for a decade, if Adams doesn’t intervene.
In 2019, New York City passed a landmark climate law, hailed as the most ambitious to be enacted by any U.S. city. Its centerpiece took aim at buildings, the city’s biggest source of carbon emissions, by requiring owners to implement upgrades and meet progressively tighter emissions caps over the coming decades. Analysts estimated it could create tens of thousands of jobs, cut local pollution, and ultimately reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 80 percent.
But building owners may have a way out.
The law doesn’t require them to meet its targets through energy efficiency upgrades alone. It also allows them to buy a potentially unlimited number of “renewable energy credits” (RECs), which enable buyers to reduce their carbon footprint by investing in green energy.
That leaves a crucial decision in Mayor Eric Adams’ hands: will his administration cap how many RECs building owners can use to comply? His administration will face that question, among others, in a council oversight hearing on Monday centering on the law’s impact on jobs. If Adams chooses not to cap REC use, experts say, the credits could effectively allow landlords to buy their way out of upgrading New York City buildings.