NYC Passes New Building Energy Codes


Keeping pace with its Green New Deal mission, New York City will now require all new and existing buildings to meet stricter energy efficiency requirements under a new energy code that was just approved by city council and passed by Mayor Bill de Blasio last week.

The 2020 NYC Energy Conservation Code will “ensure that buildings—our city's biggest polluters—are held to the highest standard of sustainability and efficiency,” according to de Blasio.

Going Green

De Blasio introduced what’s being billed as the city’s “Green New Deal”—a $14 billion plan that is aiming to reduce the city’s greenhouse emissions by 30% by 2030—in April 2019.

The plan was outlined in a report titled “OneNYC 2050: Building a Strong and Fair City” and looks at numbers from 2005 and described several initiatives that will reduce emissions by various percentage points from those numbers.

There are two major parts of the initiative that impact the building and construction industry. Those include:

  • Requiring buildings cut their emissions. With the passage of the building mandates law, New York City is the first city in the world to require all large existing buildings of 25,000 square feet or more, of which there are 50,000 citywide, to make efficiency upgrades that lower their energy usage and emissions or face steep penalties, according to the report.
  • Banning new inefficient glass-walled buildings. The city will no longer allow all-glass facades in new construction unless they meet strict performance guidelines, making inefficient glass-heavy building designs a thing of the past.

Since the announcement, New York has been proposing related plans and passing legislation to aide in those goals.

In October, de Blasio announced plans to conduct deep energy retrofits in nine city facilities, in addition to plans for identifying another 28 facilities for future retrofits.

Guided by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ audits of city facilities comprising of 10,000 square feet and larger to pinpoint areas of high-energy usage that could be more efficient, the DCAS is collaborating with identified facilities to design and implement the retrofits.

In November, the New York City Department of Buildings formally announced that the city’s new green roof laws were in effect.

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The 2020 NYC Energy Conservation Code will “ensure that buildings—our city's biggest polluters—are held to the highest standard of sustainability and efficiency,” according to de Blasio.

Local Law 92 and Local Law 94 require that all new buildings and all existing buildings undergoing major roof renovations to have a solar photovoltaic system, a green roof system or a combination of the two. The systems must cover 100% of any applicable roof.

What Now

The Energy Conservation Construction Code requires several mandates—many of which focusing around building envelopes—including:

  • Improve the building thermal envelope with better performing walls and windows;
  • Seal and test the building envelope to minimize and control air leakage;
  • Require balconies and parapets to be continuously insulated;
  • Identify thermal bridging elements in the building envelope;
  • Meet minimum energy efficiency requirements for heating and cooling systems;
  • Require more efficient interior lighting and additional lighting controls;
  • Perform commissioning on more HVAC alteration projects;
  • Require efficiency measures on new elevators and commercial kitchen equipment;
  • Require the infrastructure for the future installation of electric vehicle chargers in one- and two-family homes;
  • Require whole building metering for new buildings greater than 25,000 square feet;
  • Allow source energy as a metric, instead of energy cost, for buildings choosing to comply with energy modeling; and
  • Require additional thermal envelope performance requirements for buildings choosing to comply with energy modeling.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the 2020 NYC Energy Conservation Code is just one of the New York City Construction Codes being updated by the Department of Buildings as part of the ongoing Code Revision Cycle.

The DOB convenes multiple advisory and technical committees and will be introducing updates to New York City Construction Codes later this year.

"Our codes are how we speak the truth of our values in the language of our built environment," said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability.

"In the spaces where we live, work and play, these new energy conservation codes will unlock healthier and more efficient buildings to help us in the fight against climate change—the fight for our future."

The 2020 NYC Energy Conservation Code will go into effect on May 12.


Tagged categories: Building codes; Building Envelope; Energy codes; Government; Green building; NA; North America; Regulations

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