The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has a relatively new “stretch” energy code called the NYStretch Energy Code 2020, or NYStretch. Its goal is to promote higher energy efficiency standards during construction of both new and renovated buildings.
Minimizing energy usage is a crucial aspect in the fight against climate change. With more energy-efficient buildings following stricter environmental standards, the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be decreased. Across New York State, emissions from building account for 30% of total GHG emissions. Buildings use massive amounts of energy for lighting, heating, and cooling and are especially inefficient in the summer and winter.
The objectives outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), signed by Gov. Cuomo in 2019, include reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050, achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across New York State, and 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040. Since buildings are such a large contributor to emissions, if these goals are to be achieved, more buildings must sharply reduce energy consumption and adhere to stricter energy standards.
According to NYSERDA’s analysis, the NYStretch standards would mitigate 10 – 12% of energy costs in comparison to construction projects built under the 2020 Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (ECCCNYS). The additional savings from these lower energy costs would pay for the higher cost of construction in an estimated 10 years.
As outlined by NYSERDA, the benefits of NYStretch would be:
- Environmental: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and limiting use of fossil fuels
- Cost-Effective: Decreasing energy usage will save money on living and operational costs, as well as, reducing energy bills for consumers
- Community: Drawing attention to homes and businesses following these standards, as well as, increasing property value to owners seeking greener, efficient buildings
NYStretch has greater standards for improved insulation, windows, air leakage testing, and mandatory ventilation than the 2020 ECCCNYS. Additionally, it necessitates whole-building energy monitoring and compatibility with renewable and electric vehicles. All of these factors play a role in how NYStretch will decrease emissions and save consumers money.
As of April 26, 2020, the City of Beacon became the first municipality to join New York City in adopting NYStretch. Beacon’s future buildings will follow this new energy code to increase energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness during the construction and renovation of buildings. The Mayor of Beacon, Lee Kyriacou, stated that this energy code will help to improve the environment and save Beacon residents money on their utility bill over time.
NYSERDA currently offers an online toolkit to assist communities in adopting the energy code correctly, as well as, manuals to help interpret the code, a legislation template, and training and support services.
NYLCV strongly advocates for other municipalities to follow New York City and Beacon in adopting NYStretch. Municipalities should utilize the resources offered by NYSERDA and take the steps to make their municipality more energy efficient. NYStretch is an incredible way for other cities to decrease dependence on fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize the cost of energy and necessary to mobilize New York State closer to its climate goals within the CLCPA.