Press Release

NYC Climate Week Panel Focused on Climate-Friendly Buildings

Buildings are NY’s Largest Source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Rita Yelda
ryelda@nrdc.org, 732-979-0655

NEW YORK, NY – During NYC Climate Week, dozens of New Yorkers attended “Efficiency + Electrification + Affordability: The Recipe for Equitable, Climate-friendly Buildings”. The event included an expert panel that discussed how New York State can lead the way in equitable, efficient building decarbonization. The event focused on the need to decarbonize the building sector to tackle the climate crisis since New York State’s 6.2 million buildings are the state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Better buildings are an essential part of our fight against the climate crisis and for a better, more equitable economy for New Yorkers,” said Uchenna Bright, Northeast Advocate for E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). “Buildings can save consumers money, improve indoor air quality for everyday New Yorkers, and provide local jobs to the community. Today we heard from a group of experts that are doing the on-the-ground-work to ensure equity, affordability, and economic inclusion as we start shifting towards new economic opportunities created by upgrading and improving the more than six million buildings across New York State.”

“Greening the built environment poses immense challenges,” said Anne Reynolds, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY). “Through the development of workable solutions for building decarbonization, we can find smart opportunities to address the climate crisis. Discussions like Efficiency+Electrification+Affordability: The Recipe for Equitable, Climate-friendly Buildings allow us to explore together how we can improve our buildings and meet climate goals.”

The event included a welcome address from Anne Reynolds, Executive Director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York and a keynote address by Rory Christian, Chair and CEO of the  New York State Public Service Commission. Chante Harris, Director of Climate Investment and Partnerships at SecondMuse and Founder of Women of Color Collective in Sustainability moderated a panel discussion with Sadie McKeown, President of the Community Preservation Corporation; Greg Elcock, VP of Energy Efficiency and Distributed Resource Integration at Con Edison; and Bomee Jung, Co-CEO of Cadence OneFive.

"New York's landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act sets an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050, and to do so it will require an equitable transformation of the building sector, which produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector in this state," said Samantha Wilt, Senior Policy Analyst at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). "Most of New York’s 6.2 million buildings will need to be carbon neutral, which will require that the water and space heating in these buildings, along with cooking and clothes drying, be provided by highly efficient electric appliances, over the next 30 years, resulting in better buildings with cleaner indoor and outdoor air."

The panel discussed solutions, policies, and current efforts for fully leveraging the environmental, equity, and economic opportunities presented by a carbon-free, resource-efficient building sector. The event was organized by Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Association for Energy Affordability, E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), Downtown Brooklyn, Natural Resources Defense Council, New Yorkers for Clean Power, and Urban Future Lab.

"We were thrilled to co-host this forum with leaders working to transform the building sector away from fossil fuels to efficient electric appliances while prioritizing affordability so that our most vulnerable New Yorkers aren't left behind in the clean energy transition," said Betta Broad, Campaign Director, New Yorkers for Clean Power, and Director of Advocacy and Organizing at Association for Energy Affordability. "It's not going to be easy to electrify every building in the state, but it will result in healthier communities, more comfortable homes, and, as we increase efficiency and green the grid, electrification will free us from the volatility of fossil fuel prices, making emissions-free buildings more affordable and the only real solution for decarbonizing the building sector."

“The impact of climate change has pushed us all to act with more urgency and to reexamine everything we do through a new lens. Moving the built environment towards a carbon neutral future will make our housing more affordable, more resilient to severe weather, and healthier for our tenants,” said Sadie McKeown, President of the Community Preservation Corporation. “This transition must start with underserved communities that suffer from substandard infrastructure and have historically lacked both public and private investment. The State’s Climate Friendly Homes Fund, which CPC will be administering, will tackle that challenge by providing $250 million in grant funding to electrify 10,000 units of housing with a focus on small buildings in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Together, we can put New York on a path to addressing the climate crisis in a more equitable and inclusive manner.”

A recording of the event will be uploaded here.

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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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