Climate Week NYC: Smart Buildings

As part of Climate Week NYC, The Climate Group and HUB Live is offering multiple engaging programs. Bright and early this Tuesday morning, Bloomberg’s Jess Shankleman had a conversation with the Director of Sustainability for the NYC Mayor’s Office, Mark Chambers, to find out more about Local Law 97 (LL97). In what is being called “groundbreaking climate legislation,” LL 97 sets carbon emissions caps on NYC buildings larger than 25,000 square feet, starting in 2024. The law will cover 50,000 buildings and nearly 60% of the city’s building area.

When asked about the future changes in the use of glass in buildings, Mr. Chambers replied “it’s a material that has brought us a lot but we haven’t pushed it enough to meet the current technical requirements like those for other materialx, so it’s time to step the game up. The whole of NYC needs to incorporate better mass and glass ratio, so they use less energy and get to the core of energy use.”

Ms. Shankleman asked about how building owners were feeling about new labeling, efficiency standards and fines for non-compliance, to which the director stated that “We don’t want fines, we want the carbon. The goal is to have impact on greenhouse gas emissions, not collect fines”

When asked about the cost, with Ms. Shankleman citing $4 billion to retrofit large buildings, Mr. Chambers explained that LL97 is an “economic driver, that puts people back to work. It is part of engine that gets us back on our feet.” He went on to say “we have to really evaluate what things are going to change, that are going to impact our decisions in the future. What we’re doing is not working.”  He suggested that it is not just about individual choices, but also we need to consider “incredible systemic economic models – like the donut model in Amsterdam.”

“The donut model,” she asked? He replied, it’s a “new economic model being implemented in Amsterdam that shifts the economy away from profit and keeps those people who are vulnerable to fall out, inside the donut.”

Mr. Chambers’ final suggestion to all in attendance on what to do next: “Everyone needs to vote! We need to make sure that if we truly value a livable planet, we need to use those levers & take part in that democratic process!”

Sally Barr