Recognizing the existential threat that climate change poses, Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio has set the ambitious goal to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. Because buildings account for nearly three-quarters of the city’s emissions, the Mayor has drawn up One City: Built to Last (Transforming New York City’s Buildings for a Low Carbon Future).1 The plan is a comprehensive, 10-year roadmap to improve the energy efficiency of the City's buildings, and sets an ambitious goal to reduce the city’s building-based emissions 30% by 2025 as a staging post to the 2050 target.
The city authorities recognise that they are not able to achieve their ambitious goals without the help of partners. Since 2007, 17 of New York City’s leading universities, 11 global companies, its 11 largest hospital organizations, and 18 residential management firms have accepted the NYC Carbon Challenge, pledging to voluntarily reduce their building-based emissions by 30% or more within 10 years.2
Participants of this initiative have moved aggressively to cut their energy use and emissions. 6 participants have already met the 30% goal, and 12 universities, hospitals, and commercial offices have expanded their commitment to a 50% reduction by 2025. Altogether, participants have cut their annual emissions by 175,000 metric tons of CO2e and are collectively saving almost US$175 million annually in lower energy costs. By the end of the program, current participants are projected to reduce annual citywide emissions by nearly 515,000 metric tons of CO2e.
The initiative works by inspiring a high level commitment within organizations, creating a platform for the exchange of information and ideas, and providing simple tools to track progress. As they explore new ideas and opportunities to meet their goals, participants will also develop effective strategies for energy efficiency that can be scaled up across New York City and beyond.
1“One City Built to Last”, The City of New York, 2014 http://www.nyc.gov/html/builttolast/assets/ downloads/pdf/OneCity.pdf
2 “The New York City Carbon Challenge,” New York City, Web, 17 August 2016 http://www.nyc. gov/html/gbee/html/challenge/nyc-carbon-challenge.shtml