When it comes to energy conservation, NYC shows the nation how it’s done


Energy conservation awareness is one of the most important concepts in every aspect of modern living.  When it comes to major cities and construction, so-called “green” issues aren’t at the fringe – they’re right at center stage.

Energy efficiency isn’t just a nice idea that makes you feel good.  It’s a core business principal.  Energy efficiency saves huge costs in the long run, as well as protecting the environment, and buyers are looking carefully at energy costs before they commit.  They know that the cost of energy only goes up and up.

Savvy developers embrace new requirements, because they know that the market demands it.

New buildings in New York City – both commercial and residential – and renovations will soon be among the most energy-efficient in the nation, thanks to new energy conservation codes that went into effect on October 3rd.

These new codes, the most stringent in the country, enact energy-efficiency standards aimed at reducing all city emissions 80% by 2050.

The improvements to the New York City Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC) mean that right now, new commercial buildings will be almost 9% more efficient, and residential building will be up to 32% more efficient – impressive!

New York City is leading the nation in energy efficiency.  With the revised codes in place, NYC will join the exclusive club of only six states in the country that meet the most up-to-date federally certified commercial and residential energy requirements.

Since 1980, energy code improvements have resulted in a dramatic drop in energy usage, and this revised code continues the trend.

A major part of the new codes is concentrated on what’s called the “building envelope” – basically, insulation.  Proper insulation creates a well-sealed building, keeping indoor air at a comfortable temperature no matter what it’s like outside.  By requiring better insulation and testing for an air-tight environment, the costs of heating or cooling plummet.  Also, new regulations require the same degree of insulation when it comes to air conditioning and heating units that cut through walls and often are overlooked sources of energy loss.

Another aspect of the code requires more energy-efficient lighting.  Luckily, lighting technology improvements offer options that generate more light using less energy.

New low-rise residential buildings will need to be solar-ready, so they can easily accommodate rooftop solar panels – a big perk for buyers.

These changes in energy-efficiency codes will translate directly into big savings for both builders and owners.  Not to mention the reduction in carbon pollution and wasted energy.

Of course, code improvements present challenges as well as opportunities.  The timeframe from adoption to enforcement means that building industry professionals will need to bring their best game.

Luckily, there are resources to help.  Urban Green’s Conquer the Code and the new GPRO Homes can help architects, engineers, builders and other professionals get familiar with latest requirements.  These tools can provide the detailed information necessary to design higher-performing, code-compliant buildings.  Industry trade organizations will also be providing training and education to help builders comply.

How much benefit to the environment will result from these new requirements?  Looking only at new construction, not renovations, over the next three years, the estimated carbon savings translates to about 70,000 metric tons.  That’s equal to removing approximately 15,000 vehicles from NYC roads!

When designing the new codes, a great deal of attention was paid to the real estate’s industry need for codes that don’t impose undue hardships in cost.  Using data to concretely prove the cost-effectiveness of these provisions, the new codes result in greatest possible energy efficiency while still being affordable and achievable.

Can you do well by doing good?  In NYC, that’s the aim.