Regulatory Choices: New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan


New York City has taken actions that will have a significant impact on the energy efficiency of the huge stock of existing buildings. New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (“GGBP”) is a key component of a plan to reduce carbon emissions by thirty percent by 2030. The GGBP is comprised of four laws, including a municipal energy code setting standards for the energy performance of residential and commercial buildings, a benchmarking requirement for water and energy use in large buildings, a sub-metering requirement, and requirements for energy audits and retro-commissioning of buildings.

At all levels of government, change requires stakeholder participation. For example, the debate around the mandatory retrofit provision, and its ultimate exclusion from the GGBP, can serve as a learning experience for other major cities as they consider legislation to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings. If property owners reject the responsibilities and expenses imposed by mandatory energy audits and retrofits, legislators must come up with ways to make such mandates more financially palatable, possibly through incentives and financing options. It is critical that municipal officials engage key stakeholders from the onset.

Despite all the commotion about federal climate change legislation, most of the action with respect to energy efficiency and renewable energy is occurring at the state and local level. Regulatory mandates place burdens on stakeholders, but open new opportunities for others. Increased information about energy usage, through sub-metering, benchmarking and energy auditing will empower energy consumers. Over time, increased access to information will increase the choices available to people making decisions about investments in new and existing buildings.

Related information: Empire State Building’s new energy efficient windows.

DEFG is pleased to announce a new series of publications to explore  the federal, state and local regulatory decisions that expand the energy consumer choices. Energy consumers with more information make better decisions as they construct and inhabit buildings, purchase and maintain energy-consuming devices, purchase energy, or manage their consumption of energy. Greater choice increases efficiency. DEFG’s Series of Regulatory Choices began in February 2010.


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