New York City Climate Law vs. Cooperative Building – New York Daily News

If you are a regular working person whose goals include owning a home and raising a family, then you should be very, very concerned about the climate laws that our politicians are trying to impose on us.

Take for example Local Law 97 here in New York City – part of the Climate Mobilization Act which aims to reduce building emissions. I first became aware of this law when I joined the board of my cooperative about a year ago. I received an email from another board member that said:

“The Climate Mobilization Act of 2019 will have a major impact on our building. Our emissions must be reduced by 60% over the next 10 years. If we fail, the fines are in the $150,000 per year range. We will need to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade our systems.”

I had a hard time believing that this could be true, but further research confirmed it.

Attached to my colleague’s email was a chart showing our building’s current CO2 emissions. The chart was created by the NYC LL97 Carbon Emissions Calculator, which can be found at The organization that created the calculator, Building Energy Exchange, has “partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice” to “demystify” LL97. In this case, the city has provided a building database where residents can simply enter the address of their cooperative, and the calculator will generate a report showing how much their building aims to reduce carbon emissions by and how much, if any, the residents indicate They owe fines if they fail to install emission-free heating systems within the set deadlines.

Looking at the graph for our building, it was immediately clear that 75% of our CO2 emissions are due to our natural gas heating. The city statute mandates a set of drawdown thresholds per square foot of area. By 2035, we are said to have to reduce our emissions by 60% or face fines well over $100,000 a year. To reduce our emissions by 60% we would have no choice but to convert our building from its current gas heating system – which is fairly reliable, only a few years old and in good working order – to an electric heating system.

In addition to the requirements to reduce emissions, the city law also bans new natural gas connections in new buildings with fewer than seven floors from 2024 and in buildings with more than seven floors from 2027.

Not only would converting to electric heat be an extremely expensive and laborious construction project for any cooperative, but there is no guarantee that the city will have enough electricity to support such a conversion.

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New York is expected to be on the verge of tripling the load on the power grid by forcing electrification of all buildings and cars, while at the same time shutting down reliable fossil (and nuclear) power plants and trying to replace them with wind and solar plants that operate intermittently. Officials have made no effort to demonstrate how this could possibly work. According to a report by New York-based ISO, which operates the Grid, “the sheer scale of resources required to meet system reliability and policy requirements over the next 20 years is unprecedented.”

At worst, residents could be left without heat during the coldest winter months when co-ops have to push electrification.

Assuming a building chooses or is forced to go along, how much will it cost the hapless co-op owners? We haven’t had an estimate for our building yet, but here are a few words from Warren Schreiber, chairman of another Queens co-op, the Bay Terrace Gardens Co-op Section 1, and co-chair of the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council (PCCC): “The switch to (electric) heat pumps costs [the co-op] $2.5 million to $3 million, which does not include financing costs. This cost results in a monthly maintenance increase of 25-30%. Shareholders who have lived here for 20, 30, 40 and 50 years will have to leave Bay Terrace Gardens for more affordable accommodation.”

A 25-30% increase in maintenance is a significant financial burden for many residents and does not include the additional cost per resident of electric heating.

In short, our politicians have written legislation that will significantly increase our cost of living to onerous levels, with no absolute promise that they can honor their end of the bargain and provide the infrastructure to make it work.

Residents of New York, this is your call to action: We must let politicians know that these climate laws place an undue financial burden on a shrinking middle class and a looming humanitarian catastrophe. We must strike back before it’s too late.

Menton is a lifelong New Yorker and current Co-op Board Member.