The Next 50

Next Thursday, the New York City Zoning Resolution turns 50 years old. As zoning nerds the world over take a minute to acknowledge this milestone, we must not forget to turn our attention to the next 50 years and start considering specific actions that will encourage the progress of this great city and preserve its competitive advantage. It is time to think big…literally.

While planning (and zoning, for that matter) doesn’t happen in a vacuum, as we look at the next 50 years, architects of the City’s planning and zoning policies should take three words into consideration – no, not location location location. Urban planning technocrats, elected officials, neighborhood groups, and all other stakeholders should be guided by the following three words: Continue reading

GGBP: Time to Pay Attention

Recently, Howard Peskoe (of Counsel here at Herrick, Feinstein) and I were invited to speak to the New York chapter of the International Facilities Managers Association on the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan and its impact on IFMA’s members.

IFMA asked us to speak because a major component of the GGBP (the benchmarking law) is about to become effective on May 1, 2011.

We have addressed the GGBP in ZONE previously, but now seems the perfect time to revisit its four laws.

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Zoning, Sustainability, & City Policy

Earlier this summer, we at Herrick Feinstein hosted a seminar – Zoning, Sustainability, & City Policy.  The seminar had a panel of green building and New York City policy experts; focus was on the Green Codes Task Force recommendations, the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, and the current trends in New York City sustainability policy.

I interviewed each of the three panelists and a very lively and informative seminar unfolded.  Below are three clips from the evening.  If you would like to view the seminar in its entirety, it can be found here.

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Just a Suggestion: Task Force Puts Forth 111 Recommendations on How City Regulations Can Promote Sustainability


Earlier this week, the Green Codes Task Force – a group convened in July 2008 by Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Quinn to review the regulations affecting buildings and provide suggestions on amending these regulations to promote sustainability – released their report.

The report covers a wide array of topics, ranging from health and toxicity to energy and water to urban ecology.

The recommendations suggest changes to the general approach to new construction and existing buildings.  Additionally, specific changes to the building code and zoning regulation are suggested.

Some tangible changes that the Task Force recommends are: Continue reading

PACE Yourself: New York State Takes Step Towards Financing Green Retrofits


Recently, New York State passed legislation that creates the mechanism for the PACE model of green financing in New York.  PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy and is a new approach to addressing the issues of ‘first cost’ that too often prevent property owners from retrofitting their properties.

The way PACE works:
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Will Energy Usage Data Lead to Different Behavior and Alter Investment?

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As expected, the City Council passed the four pieces of legislation that together comprise the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan.  The four bills – lighting, benchmarking, NYC energy conservation code, and energy audits and retro-commission – together aim to lower the energy and water usage of existing buildings in New York City.

We have previously discussed the details of the bills, but a concept behind two of the bills could benefit from further exploration.

The benchmarking bill and submetering component of the lighting bill each aim to produce something that previously had not been readily available – data.  Information about the energy and water usage of a building and its tenants will now be accessible. Continue reading

Greener, Greater Buildings Plan Moving Faster, Closer to Reality

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In April, Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Quinn announced the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan – a major package of legislation that seeks to address the greening of existing buildings.  The legislation is intended to reduce energy consumption, minimize the City’s carbon footprint, save money for building owners/occupants, and create jobs.

It is a 6-point plan that includes 4 pieces of proposed legislation and 2 new programs under PlaNYC.  The legislation will impact 22,000 buildings in NYC, totaling approximately 45% of the City’s floor area! Continue reading