On December 15, 2021, the New York City Council passed a bill prohibiting the Department of Buildings from issuing a construction permit for any new building that burns any fuel that emits more than 25 kilograms of carbon dioxide per million BTUs. The revised bill is directed in particular to the burning of natural gas for heating and hot water. The passed bill reflected a compromise among parties who supported and parties who opposed the last version, a much more restrictive bill (see our November 23rd alert titled “New York on the Path to Requiring All-Electric Buildings,” commenting on the original bill). The passed bill eliminates the requirement found in earlier versions to ban gas use in renovated buildings, unless such renovation requires a new building permit, and moves out the effective date for gas-burning prohibition for buildings taller than seven stories.

For all new buildings that are less than seven stories, the ban becomes effective on January 1, 2024, except that new buildings where 50% or more units constitute affordable housing will have until January 1, 2026 for the ban to apply. For buildings that are seven stories or higher, the ban takes effect after July 1, 2027 and for affordable housing after December 31, 2027. Exceptions will be made where use of natural gas or another substance emitting carbon in excess of 25 kilograms per million BTUs is necessary for manufacturing, operation of a laboratory, laundromat, hospital, crematorium, commercial kitchen or for emergency or standby power.

The bill is intended as a companion to Local Law 97, which provides for significant penalties if New York City buildings do not comply with mandates to reduce emissions according to the schedule set forth therein. Currently in New York City, buildings are responsible for approximately two-thirds of the harmful emissions that result in poor air quality and impact the climate.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill or allow it to lapse into law. Reports indicate that Mayor-elect Eric Adams supports this initiative.