Community Energy Efficiency Initiatives in New York

By Brooke Drake, November 20, 2013, Charity & Community, Green

Community Energy Efficiency Initiatives in Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York (Part 3)Many cities around the US are making great strides to become greener for their residents. In fact, some have even set the goal to become the “greenest city” in the US. In order to become greener, many cities have created energy efficiency initiatives to help with the task. In the third installment of our series examining the community energy efficient initiatives in the Bounce Energy service area, we look into how New York City, Albany, and Buffalo have contributed to make New York a greener and healthier state.

New York City

PlaNYC – The Big Apple has developed a comprehensive plan for sustainable growth through 2030 by reducing citywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by the year 2030.  While the plan contains many green goals, for the purpose of this blog, it’ll focus on the initiatives that relate to energy efficiency. In the last five years, the City has launched three major energy efficiency policies that are included in PlaNYC:

  • One that impacts all buildings (NYCECC – see below)
  • A second that concentrates specifically on large, existing buildings (GGBP – see below)
  • A third that targets deeper, faster cuts in leading edge sectors, such as municipal and institutional buildings (“30×17”- see below)

NYC Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC) – The NYCECC calls for the City to follow codes best adapted to New York City’s needs while making significant gains in energy efficiency.

Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP) – Included in PlaNYC, this plan targets the larger, existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency. It consists of four laws (below) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 5% for a net savings of $7 billion:

  1. Benchmarking – annual requirement to benchmark energy and water consumption.
  2. NYC Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC) – requires buildings to meet the most current energy code for any renovation or alteration project.
  3. Energy Audits & Retro-Commissioning – requires buildings to conduct an energy audit and perform retro-commissioning once every 10 years.
  4. Lighting & Sub-metering – by 2025, the lighting in the non-residential space must be upgraded to meet code and large commercial tenants must be provided with sub meters.

Municipal Green House Gas Emissions Reduction (30×17) – This is an energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction plan (part of the greater PlaNYC) to reduce municipal GHG emissions 30% by 2017. The plan is to do so by pushing energy efficiency upgrades to building systems and improved operations and maintenance practices. The City will provide benchmark scores, and based on those results, it will determine the most inefficient buildings that will need energy audits. And from those results come the necessary retrofit measures each building needs to take to become more energy efficient.

LEED Law (Local Law 86) – One of the first of its kind in the country, this law requires that building projects that receive more than a specified amount of City funding achieve a LEED rating level of Certified or Silver, depending on the type of building, and/or reductions in energy cost and potable water use.

Green Light New York – This is a center that provides information and resources on energy efficient lighting. Resources like classes, training, displays, rebates, and incentive information will be provided through this center.

GreeNYC – This a resource for the public that was created to educate, engage and motivate residents to become more energy efficient and live more sustainably in their own homes.

Mayor’s Carbon Challenge – Invites universities, hospitals, theatres, commercial tenants and residential condos and co-ops in NYC to take the 30×17 challenge to reduce their GHG emissions by 30% in 10 years.

Municipal Entrepreneurial Testing System This system provides green tech companies with an opportunity to test out their products in municipal facilities.

NYC Cool Roofs – It’s an initiative to cool down NYC’s rooftops. It uses volunteers to coat rooftops around the city with white, reflective surfaces with the intent to reduce cooling costs, lower energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.


The City of Albany has completed energy efficient lighting upgrades in 23 City buildings. Albany also has the following goals it is working to implement city-wide:

  1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from City buildings and facilities by 25% by 2030
  2. Implement and Energy Conservation Policy to help City employees conserve energy and reduce waste such as turn off lights when not in use, reduce heating and cooling in buildings, etc.
  3. Perform energy efficient upgrades in City buildings and equipment.
  4. Upgrade the city’s streetlights and traffic signals to energy efficient LED’s

There are also some federally funded energy efficient initiatives that are offered around the state of New York. A few are listed below, but we encourage you to view the entire list here.

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR – Offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERD), this program has a contractor inspect your home and pinpoint the problems in your home and provide energy efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – This program helps low income families lower their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient through insulating walls, sealing cracks, and weather stripping windows and doors.

Demand Response Programs – This plan is for commercial and industrial customers that use large amounts of electricity at the same time, which causes stress on the grid. The New York Independent System Operator will work with these businesses to help them manage their usage during peak times and in return the utilities will pay these businesses for reducing their usage.


PUSH Green – It is a community-based, energy efficiency program funded by People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). It is part of a statewide effort to make homes more comfortable and energy efficient while creating local jobs. Through this program, Buffalo residents are provided access to free energy assessments, installation services, and low-cost financing.

Green Building Retrofit Program – This program is offered through PUSH Green and is for small businesses and non-profits. It provides free energy audits and affordable energy efficient upgrades.

Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) – It is a partnership between the federal government, national and local philanthropy, the National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, and local partners. The initiative will align and coordinate public and private funding sources and programs for weatherization, lead hazard control, asthma control, and other home health and safety interventions in low income homes.

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