On August 16, 2010, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed Local Law 43, “NYC Clean Heat,” which requires that all buildings in New York City transition away from No. 6 heating oil in favor of cleaner grades of heating oil or cleaner fuel. The law was put in place to address the public health hazard presented by oils that, when burned, emit sulfur dioxide and fine particulate matter, which contribute to local air pollution and harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
The program has been a resounding success. As of June 30, 2015, the city of New York achieved 99.8% percent compliance with Local Law 43, significantly reducing the city’s carbon footprint. Between 2012 and June, 2015, nearly 6,000 heating oil conversions were completed from No. 6 or No. 4 heating oil to a cleaner fuel. In fact, more than 75% of these projects converted the building’s heating system to one of the cleanest fuels, including ultra-low sulfur No. 2 oil, natural gas, biodiesel, and steam.
Though New Yorkers are now enjoying the cleanest air in 50 years, Local Law 43 is but one part of a larger initiative designed to reduce greenhouse gases in New York City by 40 percent in 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Patrick Love, the New York City Carbon Challenge coordinator in the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability under Mayor Bill de Blasio, noted that one of the main contributors to pollution happens to be buildings. In fact, nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings’ electricity, cooling and heating systems.
While immense progress has been made, there is still quite a bit to do, but New York City is not asking buildings to do it alone. Part of Mayor de Blasio’s initiative is the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, a team of building experts who provide independent, customized technical assistance and advisory services. This team is continuing to assist buildings burning No. 4 heating oil to meet the deadline and convert to a cleaner fuel by 2030. The program is not only good for the environment – the NYC Retrofit Accelerator can also help buildings reduce their operating costs and increase the value of the building by upgrading outdated systems.