The NYC Green Codes Task Force, convened by Mayor Bloomberg in response to PlaNYC, has set forth 111 proposals to “green” the NYC Building Code and other regulations related to zoning, health and environmental protection. The proposals are broken down by category, including: Overarching Code Issues; Health & Toxicity; Energy & Carbon Emissions – Fundamentals; Energy & Carbon Emissions – Energy Efficiency; Energy & Carbon Emissions – Operations & Maintenance; and Water Efficiency.

GreenEsq. is featuring an ongoing series of posts in an effort to track the progress of the NYC Green Codes Task Force’s proposals and any resulting local laws that are relevant to building owners and tenants in New York City. Please click here to view the introductory post to this series, which features links to all our posts covered in the series.

According to the NYC Green Codes Task Force, the Energy and Carbon Emissions – Fundamentals category lays the groundwork for reducing New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions by clarifying the underlying energy codes and ensuring that buildings require smaller energy systems. This post summarizes one Local Law, three proposed Local Laws that have been approved by the New York City Council, and two NYC Green Codes Task Force proposals that address issues in the Energy and Carbon Emissions – Fundamentals category.

Local Law 43 of 2010Allow Use of Biofuels

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Energy Fundamentals 17 (EF17)
  • Enactment Date: August 16, 2010
  • Amended Law: Title 24 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, Chapter 1
  • Requirements of the Local Law: (1) all grades of heating oil will have to be blended with at least 2% biodiesel (fuel that is derived from feedstock, i.e. soybean oil, algal oil, or non-food grade corn oil); (2) authorizes the use of renewable biomass (including crops and crop residue from existing agricultural land, tree residues, animal waste material and byproducts, etc.) in heating systems if emissions are equal to or less than No. 2 oil; and (3) reduces the maximum sulfur content in No. 2 oil from 5,000 parts per million (“ppm”) to 15 ppm, and in No. 4 oil from 3,000 ppm to 1,500 ppm.
  • Underlying Policy of the Local Law: According to the proposal, biofuels reduce the emission of air pollutants, reduce cleaning and maintenance costs, strengthen the alternative fuels market, support regional farmers and local businesses, and increase energy independence and the diversity of the energy supply.

Int. 0341A-2010Allow Large Solar Rooftop Installations

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Energy Fundamentals 14 (EF14)
  • Approved by New York City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings on April 6, 2011.
  • Laws to be Amended: Section 27-306.1 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York and Section BC 504.3 of the New York City Building Code.
  • Requirements: The definition of “rooftop structure” would be amended to include rooftop anchorage for the attachment of solar panels to a roof as part of a solar energy system installation. Solar thermal and photovoltaic collectors and/or panels and their supporting equipment (excluding any accessory plumbing or electrical equipment) would not be included in the height of the building and would not be included as rooftop structures, which are subject to a thirty-three and one-third percent limitation on roof coverage.
  • Underlying Policy: The existing building code limits the percentage of the area of a roof that photovoltaic and solar thermal panels may cover without being counted as additional floor area. The proposed legislation would remove this barrier and incentivize installations of solar thermal and photovoltaic panels by permitting more than one-third of the area of the roof to be covered by solar photovoltaic and solar thermal panels without being counted as additional floor area.

Int. 0347A-2010Reduce Summer Heat with Cool Roofs

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Energy Fundamentals 11 (EF11)
  • Approved by New York City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings on April 6, 2011.
  • Laws to be Amended: Section 28-101.4.3 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York and Sections BC 1504.8 and BC 1510.1 of the New York City Building Code and Chapter 35 of the New York City Building Code.
  • Requirements: At least 75% of the area of roofs and setbacks, exclusive of skylights, would be required to have a covering with a specified minimum solar reflective index (SRI). Certain roofs, including steep-sloped roofs made of copper, lead or certain tiles, would be excluded from this requirement. In addition, re-roofing would not need to conform to this requirement if the re-roofing affects less than 50% of the roof area and less than 500 square feet.
  • Underlying Policy: This law would strengthen the City’s roof coating standards to require the use of more reflective and emissive materials. Cool roofs transfer less heat to the building below so that the building stays cooler during the summer, resulting in the use of less energy for cooling. Cool roofs result in energy savings when they are most needed – during very hot summer periods subject to peak electrical demand. Installing light roofs on a large percentage of buildings would also work to reduce the effects of the Urban Heat Island Effect.

Int. 0358A-2010Remove Zoning Impediments to Alternative Energy

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Energy Fundamentals 15 (EF15)
  • Approved by New York City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings on April 6, 2011.
  • Laws to be Amended: Sections 27-232 and 27-306 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York and Sections BC 502 and BC 504.3 of the New York City Building Code.
  • Requirements: Combined heat and power systems, which are defined as “equipment that simultaneously produces electricity and heat from a single fuel source,” are added to the list of rooftop structures that may be excluded from height limitations and from being considered an additional story when the combined enumerated rooftop structures would in the aggregate occupy no more than 33.3% of the roof area.
  • Underlying Policy: Combined heat and power systems capture wasted heat and use it to regulate a building’s temperature or to heat water. The existing building code limits the percentage of the area of a roof that combined heat and power systems may cover without counting as additional floor area. The proposed legislation would remove this barrier and incentivize installations of combined heat and power systems by permitting more than one-third of the area of the roof to be covered by combined heat and power systems without counting as additional floor area.

 

Proposal – Increase Allowable Size of Solar Shades

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Energy Fundamentals 6 (EF6)
  • Enactment Date: N/A
  • Amended Law: N/A
  • Requirements of the Proposal: Sun control devices over windows or doors may project beyond the street line not more than 8 feet, provided that no part of the sun control device is less than 8 feet above the ground or sidewalk level. In addition, Sun control devices must be designed and constructed to withstand wind or other loads and prevent deterioration.
  • Underlying Policy of the Proposal: According to the proposal, sun control devices can be used to combat heat gain in buildings, reduce glare, and improve occupant comfort. Currently, the building code allows sun control devices to extend only ten inches from a building’s façade, decreasing their effectiveness. The proposed legislation would regulate sun control devices more similarly to awnings, which are allowed to extend up to five feet into the street line.

Proposal – Clarify Standards for Attaching Rooftop Solar

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Energy Fundamentals 13 (EF13)
  • Enactment Date: N/A
  • Amended Law: N/A
  • Requirements of the Proposal: The proposed legislation would authorize the New York City Department of Buildings to develop detailed criteria for the anchorage to roofs of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal panels, coverings and anchorage for other sustainable energy systems.
  • Underlying Policy of the Proposal: Existing building code provisions lack criteria for attachment of photovoltaic and solar thermal panels to buildings or structures, creating hardships when installing solar power collection and generation systems.