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.

The following is a summary of the NYC Green Codes Task Force (the “Task Force”) proposals and Local Laws enacted for the Health & Toxicity category:

Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Health & Toxicity 3 (HT3)
  • Amended Law: The policy objectives of the Proposal have been achieved through the enactment of federal legislation, specifically the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, July 7, 2010 (the “Act”). The Task Force originally recommended amendments to various sections of the New York City Health Code, Building Code and Administrative Code.
  • Effective Date of the Act: The Act requires that the Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) promulgate regulations implementing the Act’s standards by January 1, 2013.
  • Underlying Policy of the Proposal and the Act: The Proposal and the Act seek to limit and, to the extent possible, eliminate harmful substances from wood-based building materials in order to protect the health and welfare of building workers and residents. Formaldehyde is a harmful gas and proven carcinogen that is often used in wood building materials and other products, such as fungicide and germicide. It has been shown to trigger asthma and other breathing issues, various skin and body irritations and cause ground level ozone formation. The Act will limit the permissible formaldehyde content in several wood building products.
  • Requirements of the Act: The Act establishes formaldehyde emission standards for (i) hardwood plywood, (ii) medium density fiberboard, and (iii) particleboard, that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, or manufactured in the United States.

Asbestos Removal Regulations

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Health & Toxicity 14 (HT14)
  • Amended Laws: Rules of the City of New York, Title 15, Chapter 1, and various New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) regulations.
  • Underlying Policy of the Proposal: One of the goals of “green” building is to eliminate harmful substances from buildings to protect the health and welfare of the people occupying such buildings (see HT3, above). The Proposal suggests ridding the asbestos abatement process of the “red tape” involved with obtaining permits to perform asbestos removal, including the requirement of seeking variances to perform abatement in certain instances.
  • Requirements of the Proposal: Modification of the DEP regulatory program controlling abatement of the three major categories of non-friable asbestos materials: (1) vinyl asbestos tile; (2) flat roofing materials; and (3) other exterior asbestos containing materials, including shingles, siding, putty, and caulking.

Local Law 55/2010Increased Availability of Drinking Fountains

  • NYC Green Code Proposal: Health & Toxicity 20 (HT20)
  • Effective Date: July 1, 2012
  • Amended Laws: Section 410 of the New York City Plumbing Code
  • Underlying Policy of the Local Law: To make water fountains more accessible and to encourage people to carry with them and utilize reusable water bottles. The to be amended law allowed for an “exception” whereby half of the number of required drinking fountains could be substituted by the presence of water dispensing vending machines, and Local Law 55/2010 eliminates this exception.
  • Requirements of the Local Law: (1) All drinking fountains installed after the effective date must have both a bubbler faucet (i.e., a drinking spout) and a separate faucet designed to fill a container at least ten inches high; (2) in locations (other than restaurants where water is served) where water fountains are required, up to 50% of the number of such water fountains (as set forth in the Plumbing Code) may be substituted by other dedicated plumbing fixtures with faucets designed to fill a container at least ten inches high; and (3) bottled water dispensers are no longer permitted to substitute for any of required water fountains (previously bottled water dispensers could substitute for up to 50% of water fountains).