Building efficiency the focus of new NY law designed to reach our climate goals
Several bills just signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul are intended to make buildings more efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Advocates call them progress in fighting the climate crisis, but not enough.
Making our homes and buildings more energy efficient can be a big factor in reaching New York’s climate goals of reducing global warming emissions. Alliance for a Green Economy Director Jessica Azulay said one new law the governor signed could change how building codes are set by the state.
“They’ll be able to take our greenhouse gas emissions mandate into account, which hopefully will mean the code will require more efficient construction, buildings that will then emit fewer greenhouse gases," Azulay said.
An additional law permits utilities to own and operate large thermal networks. The hope is that this technology – at large scale – will grow and be available to homes and businesses that couldn’t build such a system.
“Because geothermal energy and sharing of thermal energy across buildings are extremely efficient ways to heat and cool, this gets consumers, building owners, residents access to the most efficient heating and cooling," Azulay said.
A third measure requires that appliances sold in New York overall become more efficient. Azulay is optimistic these will help move toward the state goal of 85-percent reductions in emissions. But what might help more is a bill that all new construction would have to be fossil fuel free. Albany didn’t pass that.
“So we really need to ensure as we build new buildings that they are highly efficient while still keeping the occupants perfectly comfortable, which we can do without fossil fuels," Azulay said.
She suggests building anything with oil, gas or other fuel infrastructure is a step backward when it comes to battling the climate crisis.