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.
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.
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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.
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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.