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NYC Office Landlords Have a Plan for Shrinking Carbon Footprints

National  + Weekender  | 

New York City’s top landlords have committed to reducing their carbon footprints via Urban Green Council’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership. The goal is to reduce citywide carbon emissions 80% by 2050, and to implement a 20% reduction in energy usage in office towers and other large buildings by 2030.

Buildings produce 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions in New York City. But until now, a consensus roadmap for significant energy savings has been elusive because of divergent viewpoints on how to draw one up.

The Buildings Partnership, comprised of more than 40 organizations, addressed this challenge by bringing together a variety of stakeholders to create a set of recommendations that serve as a blueprint for major energy reductions in large buildings. The group has issued a report spelling out its recommendations to significantly reduce emissions in about 50,000 buildings citywide.

“The Partnership brought together organizations from opposite sides of the fence,” said Russell Unger, executive director of Urban Green Council, which convened the 80×50 Buildings Partnership. “But it turns out the fence wasn’t as high as we thought.”

Building owners, Unger continued, “want to improve energy efficiency. Advocates do care about feasibility. We just needed to recast disagreements as questions, and the time to work through them.”

Among other recommendations, the partnership intends to develop a new metric based on the EPA’s Energy Star rating that is calibrated with New York City building data, providing an effective and accurate measure of progress in reducing energy. This will address longstanding concerns about using existing metrics to measure energy-use progress in New York City buildings that use energy differently, based on nuances in construction, operations and occupancy.

The partnership also calls for developing an optional “efficiency trading” program that will help building owners to achieve their energy reduction requirements by buying energy savings from upgrades in other buildings. Consideration should be given to providing greater credit for efficiency improvements in the nonprofit and affordable housing sectors, the report says.

“We recognize that climate change is a societal problem,” said John H. Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “This means that every sector, including real estate, needs to help address it. We applaud Urban Green Council for convening a diverse group of stakeholders, and building consensus for the concepts outlined in the report.”

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).