2018-08-29 / Front Page

Constantinides Convenes Coalition To Help Reduce Carbon Emissions

Council Member Costa Constantinides, chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, on August 20, stood with the de Blasio administration, Urban Green Council, and allies in support of legislation to retrofit thousands of New York City buildings to drastically reduce carbon emissions over the next decade.

“I consider today a milestone in our quest to make New York City’s buildings greener, our infrastructure more sustainable, and our air significantly cleaner,” said Council Member Constantinides. “Our iconic skyline will be a model for how a major American city can fight the effects of climate change, as the federal government turns a blind eye to its growing danger. While we still have to craft a bill, we have a clear holistic view on how that legislation will look.”

Constantinides made his announcement last week from the steps of City Hall, joined by Mark Chambers, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability; Russell Unger, executive director of the Urban Green Council; Adriana Espinoza, New York City program director for the New York League of Conservation Voters; Guy Geier, president of American Institute of Architects New York; members of 32BJ SEIU; the Working Families Party; ALIGN; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Environmental Defense Fund and Make the Road NY.

Despite decreasing over the past decade, New York City greenhouse gas emissions still totaled 52 million metric tons in 2016. Constantinides has led multiple efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change since he first took office in 2014. That year, he spearheaded the city’s historic commitment to reduce its carbon footprint 80% by 2050, known as “80 x 50.”

The council member has also sought alternatives to dirty fossil fuels, promoting a mixed of cleaner, renewable energy sources such as biodiesel, solar, and wind power.

In September 2017, Mayor de Blasio and Constantinides announced a first-of-its-kind proposal to mandate large building owners to make sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emission by 2030.

Last week, the Urban Green Council announced Blueprint for Efficiency – the result of more than 40 organizations collaborating over eight months – to dramatically cut building emissions by 2030. Both proposals offer significant and complementary ways to force energy efficiency retrofits in large buildings to meet the city’s 80 x 50 carbon reduction goals.
Importantly, both proposals also offer strategies for protecting tenant affordability, as well as integrating cleaner energy sources in the future.  

“While there may have been past disagreements, we are unified in the belief that New York City faces new dangers from Mother Nature,” Constantinides noted. “We are walking down this path together now, and as we have seen already, tremendous things can happen when we listen to one another. I’m going to keep that collaborative spirit alive, engaging our varied stakeholders, as we turn some of these recommendations into law.”

“In the fight against climate change we need to think big, and cutting energy use in large buildings around the city is the type of ambitious goal I am proud to support. I look forward to these ideas going through the legislative process and eventually helping us take a giant step forward in our 80 x 50 plans while providing an emissions cutting model to cities across the country and around the globe,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

“Now is the time for bold steps to modernize how our buildings consume energy,” said Mark Chambers, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Climate change is a dire threat – and it’s only getting worse. We know what’s at stake and we’re moving full-steam ahead to improve the health and well-being of our city and our environment.”

“Council Member Constantinides is NYC’s most passionate public environmental champion and the driving legislative force behind our 80 x 50 commitment,” said Russell Unger, executive director of the Urban Green Council, which convened the 80 x 50 Buildings Partnership. “We’re thrilled the Blueprint for Efficiency will underpin his new legislation, which will be the most impactful climate policy ever advanced by a city.”

Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation` Voters, said, “In order for New York City to make its climate goals real, we must look towards its largest contributor to climate change – buildings. Establishing building emissions reductions targets from 2030 through 2050 will help ensure that the residential and commercial sectors do their part to fight climate change and protect our environment.  We were pleased to work together with groups from across industries to develop these recommendations that will transform New York’s public and environmental health.  Thank you to Council Member Constantinides for working legislatively and continuing to advocate for the reduction of building emissions.”  

“When passed as law, these recommendations will cement New York City’s leadership on climate change and signify a breakthrough for our communities and workers. For years, the Climate Works for All coalition has advocated for bold action on NYC’s biggest polluters – its buildings – and our member organizations have participated in the Urban Green Council’s 80 x 50 Partnership. We are excited to see the consensus around this platform that will reduce emissions, create jobs and protect affordable housing, and urge the City Council to pass legislation as soon as possible,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of ALIGN.

“The recommendations from the 80 x 50 Buildings Partnership will enable New York to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring that affordable housing providers can continue to safely house the city’s most vulnerable residents,” said Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise Community Partners. “Enterprise looks forward to working collaboratively with Council Member Constantinides, the city and our partners to implement the Partnership’s plans across thousands of buildings in New York.”

“Currently, around 70 percent of carbon emissions in New York City come from buildings. The construction industry and City Hall need to come together to solve this problem, and the 80 x 50 Buildings Partnership provides a clear path forward,” said Guy Geier, executive director of the American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY).

“I know first-hand as a Sandy survivor that it’s time to fight climate change with everything we’ve got. This plan will set a model for the world to slash climate pollution by over 80 percent, which is needed to stave off far worse effects of climate change than even Sandy and today’s heat waves,” said Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change (NYCC). “It will slash climate pollution, create good jobs, and protect affordable housing, such as the rent-regulated apartment where me and my family now live.”

“The New York City Council’s leadership will play a pivotal role in supporting New York State’s and New York City’s efforts to cut pollution,” said Rory Christian, director, New York Clean Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. “Nearly 70% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, so it’s essential that they become more energy efficient.”
“While we do not agree with every recommendation, we applaud the engagement of all stakeholders, especially those of us who are responsible for instituting these changes, and have the expertise in retrofitting buildings and increasing energy performance,” said Jordan Barowitz, vice president of Public Affairs at The Durst Organization.


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