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    April 05, 2017 | 6:00 AM

    The City So Nice They Named It Twice: How NYC is Fighting Climate Change

    Together, all of New York’s buildings present a huge opportunity for the city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. Here are three ways the Big Apple is helping solve the climate crisis at home.

    Republished from the Cities100 guide (the work of SustainiaC40 Cities, and Realdania) with permission. Download the Cities100 guide now!

    Protecting Public Housing (And Making It More Sustainable) 

    The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has devised a plan to reduce CO2 emissions and ensure that affordable housing residents have resilient homes that can endure the effects of climate change.

    In 2016, the Nex­t ­Gen­er­a­tion NYCHA Sus­tain­ab­il­ity Agenda was de­veloped as a 10-year roadmap for healthy and com­fort­able homes able to with­stand the im­pacts of cli­mate change, in ad­di­tion to sup­port­ing the city’s com­mit­ment to re­duce its green­house gas emis­sions by 80 percent by 2050. The plan out­lines 17 strategies to re­duce NYCHA’s car­bon foot­print by 30 percent by 2025, foster re­si­li­ence, and safe­guard res­id­ent well­ness, in­clud­ing im­prov­ing heat­ing and hot wa­ter ef­fi­ciency, es­tab­lish­ing stand­ards for new build­ings and im­prov­ing ex­ist­ing build­ings, ad­opt­ing large-scale use of clean en­ergy, and con­nect­ing res­id­ents to eco­nomic op­por­tun­ity.

    Flood risk and storm­ wa­ter man­age­ment are a pri­or­ity of the agenda, with re­si­li­ence plans in de­vel­op­ment for all hous­ing vul­ner­able to coastal flood­ing, in­clud­ing risk as­sess­ments and ret­ro­fit guidelines based on les­sons learned from Hur­ricane Sandy. Phase one of the storm ­wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture im­ple­ment­a­tion pro­jects has the po­ten­tial to cap­ture ap­prox­im­ately 72 mil­lion liters per year. Ad­di­tion­ally, NYCHA will provide back-up power for all Sandy-af­fected de­vel­op­ments, de­velop mi­cro-grids at cer­tain de­vel­op­ments, and in­stall 25 MW of solar power in an ef­fort to pro­tect pub­lic hous­ing res­id­ents from the short- and long-term im­pacts of cli­mate change.

    The Result: 330,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions estimated to be reduced by 2025 via measures deployed under the NYCHA Sustainability Agenda.

    >> Related: Making Transportation Cleaner: Three Cities with Drive <<

    Making Thousands of Buildings More Energy Efficient

    New York City is fa­cil­it­at­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency ret­ro­fits in large build­ings and those in low- and me­dium-in­come neigh­bor­hoods with a data-driven out­reach strategy.

    New York City’s ret­ro­fit pro­grams util­ize data-driven ana­lysis and com­munity out­reach to pin­point prop­er­ties which present the greatest op­por­tun­it­ies for en­ergy sav­ings and are at greatest risk of cli­mate change im­pacts. Us­ing a soph­ist­ic­ated strategy com­bin­ing bench­mark­ing, audits, and other data sources, the Ret­ro­fit Ac­cel­er­ator pro­gram is identi­fy­ing and as­sist­ing own­ers of build­ings lar­ger than 4,600 m2 with up­grades. Mean­while, a com­ple­ment­ary pro­gram, Com­munity Ret­ro­fit, reaches out to own­ers of build­ings in low- and mod­er­ate-in­come neigh­bor­hoods with the help of in­flu­en­tial com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions and local util­it­ies, of­fer­ing free tech­nical ad­vis­ory ser­vices for the im­ple­ment­a­tion of en­ergy and wa­ter ef­fi­ciency pro­jects.

    Since its 2015 launch, Ret­ro­fit Ac­cel­er­ator has iden­ti­fied 1,000 pro­jects for en­ergy up­grades and over the next three years, the pro­gram will as­sist at least 1,500 build­ings in im­ple­ment­ing en­ergy or wa­ter ef­fi­ciency pro­jects. At the same time, Com­munity Ret­ro­fit an­ti­cip­ates green­house gas re­duc­tions of 9,000 met­ric tons of CO2 over three years from at least 500 com­pleted or ini­ti­ated ret­ro­fits, res­ult­ing in $5 mil­lion in an­nual cost sav­ings.

    The Result: 1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions are expected to be reduced by 2025 as a result of Retrofit Accelerator's upgrades in 20,000 buildings.

    >> Related: There’s Still Climate Hope: Six States Leading the Way <<

    Providing Low-Cost Financing to Cut Emissions in Affordable Housing

    New York City’s new pro­gram main­tains hous­ing af­ford­ab­il­ity while mit­ig­at­ing greenhouse gas emis­sions by provid­ing en­ergy audits and low-cost fin­an­cing to small prop­erty own­ers.

    New York City’s Green Hous­ing Pre­ser­va­tion Pro­gram (GHPP) aims to re­duce hous­ing costs and green­house gas emis­sions in the city’s af­ford­able hous­ing sec­tor by eas­ing bar­ri­ers to un­der­take en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and wa­ter con­ser­va­tion im­prove­ments. Un­der the pro­gram, prop­erty own­ers, who of­ten per­ceive hous­ing im­prove­ments as out of reach, gain ac­cess to en­ergy audit in­form­a­tion and low- or no-cost fin­an­cing for key ret­ro­fit meas­ures. With im­prove­ments such as the in­stall­a­tion of ef­fi­ciency con­trols, it is an­ti­cip­ated that own­ers may see more than a 10 percent an­nual re­duc­tion in util­ity costs, which ac­count for roughly 25 percent of the av­er­age op­er­at­ing budget of a rent sta­bil­ized build­ing.

    GHPP has the po­ten­tial to im­pact a large num­ber of own­ers and ten­ants in the city, as al­most two-thirds of New York’s rental apart­ment build­ings are eli­gible for the pro­gram. In ad­di­tion to se­cur­ing the cli­mate re­si­li­ence of own­ers and ten­ants in low- to mod­er­ate-in­come neigh­bor­hoods, the ini­ti­at­ive is an im­port­ant as­pect of the city’s plan to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions from build­ings by 30 percent be­low 2005 levels by 2025.

    The Result: 475 units will be assisted by the GHPP in the program's first year.


    Cities around the world are at the forefront of climate solutions. Learn more about cities like New York that are taking action to fight the climate crisis. Download the Cities100 guide now. 



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    The Cities100 guide is the work of SustainiaC40 Cities, and Realdania.

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