New York Must Move to Decarbonize Buildings 

By Peter Aronson

There’s a good reason the New York League of Conservation Voters recently honored Logical Buildings in Westchester County. They are doing cutting-edge work to help builders, landlords and other stakeholders decarbonize buildings. 

Buildings are the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and co-pollutants in New York State, meaning building decarbonization must play a critical role as we set out to meet the state’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Innovative efforts from the private sector to reduce such an imposing carbon footprint, like we see with Logical Buildings, is a necessary component to combating climate change, but it won’t be sufficient. Passing legislation on the state and local level is imperative. 

In 2023, New York State will have an historic opportunity to significantly reduce emissions from our highest greenhouse gas producing sector, while simultaneously developing a 21st century model and workforce that sustains and grows middle-class union jobs. This objective can be met by implementing a coordinated building decarbonization and energy efficiency strategy. 

Essential to our success is adopting legislation in towns, cities and statewide that restricts fossil fuel emissions from new and existing buildings, including tightening building energy codes, adopting building decarbonization mandates, decarbonizing state-owned buildings, along with a host of additional policies.

In 2021, New York City passed a law that requires all new and gut-renovated buildings to have zero on-site greenhouse gas emissions, with a phase-in for different building sizes that starts in 2024. This will be a strong boost in our efforts to reduce carbon pollution and improve public health.

Now, we are encouraging the New York State legislature to pass a similar statewide bill, the All-Electric Building Act, which would switch the on-site heating and cooling in new buildings away from carbon polluters like natural gas, propane, and oil to zero on-site emission sources like heat pumps and induction stoves. The bill would put New York on a pathway to zero on-site emissions in new construction. 

In addition, NYLCV is encouraging the New York State Legislature to amend current New York law in order to align current utility regulations with state climate justice and emission reduction goals.

The New York League of Conservation Voters is prioritizing decarbonization and energy efficiency in its work combating climate change, focusing on expanding access to clean electricity. These bills provide the basis New York needs to start building its renewable, clean infrastructure, setting the state up for success when it comes to limiting emissions and meeting targets. We urge legislators to reach agreement on all of these bills in 2023.