Skip to main content

Leaving out the little guy (adds up)

Excited about New York's new building energy efficiency measures, but a little worried about how it was done. There are too many exemptions here. Focusing on only large buildings (over 25,000 square feet) leaves half of emissions untargeted. Leaving out low-income housing keeps the utility bills for low-income renters high. This kind of exemption is a bad idea.

Definitely agree with the goal of trying to help low-income individuals, but there are much better ways than an exemption from these requirements. It would be so much better if the New York passed a support bill, for example funding for housing vouchers as part of this effort, rather than creating those exemptions.

The 25,000 square foot limit is also problematic. To some degree this can make sense, temporarily. A bill designed for large properties might not fit well with smaller properties because of increased overhead. But I don't see a commitment here to follow this on, using the learning from the first bill to cover smaller properties with less paperwork.

Grist is usually pretty good, but in this case, makes the statement "The legislation targets buildings over 25,000 square feet, which make up just 2 percent of the city’s real estate but account for about half of all building emissions.". While technically true, it's misleading. That 2 percent is the number of buildings, and isn't the first definition in terms of percentage of "the city's real estate" that pops to mind. Usually, we'd think in terms of square footage or units. It gives the false impression that these buildings are less energy efficient than others, when the reverse is true.

What's the percentage of square footage those building represent? Unfortunately, I've run out of time to research that topic, but I'd feel fairly confident that it's greater than 50%.

When we balance the concerns necessary in the process of making change, we need to be smart, not just motivated.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Commit to Long Term Testing

Expanding testing is very important now.  It's also clearly an area we were unprepared.  We should commit to having testing capacity long term, to both provide more certainty to anyone expanding testing capacity today, and to be prepared in the future. I had some thoughts about how this testing would be best structured.  It's not possible to test for an contagious disease you're not aware of, but much of the infrastructure for doing so can already be in place, ready to be adapted.  That infrastructure would roughly boil down to a) sample collection b) sample handling c) sample preparation d) sample analysis e) materials: reagents, etc. Scaling these up from scratch is quite a bit more work than adapting to a new contagion.  A commitment to having that infrastructure would have helped a lot with the current crisis. Right now, the focus is rightfully on health care workers, suspected cases and essential workers.  In terms of preparation though, in the early stages

The promise (and pitfalls) of index based insurance

Insurance in developing nations is far less broadly available than developed ones.  In addition, the risks that citizens of developing nations face, are often much more numerous and severe.  Crop-insurance is a common element of agricultural policy in the United States, but less common in Ethiopia.  As Ethiopia has a much higher percentage of their population engaged in agriculture, shocks, such as drought, crop disease, or severe weather have big impacts. Insurance's basic principle is simple, spreading risk across a broader pool.  When harmed, you get assistance to lessen the impact, when you're not harmed, your payments cover the costs of others who are.  But deciding who is harmed is a very time consuming task.  Preventing fraud is important to staying competitive, when looking at private enterprise, and important to public trust when dealing with public programs.  But preventing fraud places burdens not only on the insurance provider, but the claimants.  Having to prove

Finding your way: Public Transit and Uber

Uber has been disruptive in many ways.  One way, which has been a great disappointment, is the effect on public transit systems.  It was once hoped that ride hailing would provide an assist to public transit, as a gateway to abandoning car ownership.  There have also been hopes that suburban commuters would use ride-hailing as their connection to public-transit which is not accessible by walking in these areas.   Multiple studies have confirmed these hopes have largely not materialized, and public-transit has been weakened . Cities have reacted, mostly by putting barriers to ride-hailing growth.  Sometimes they are collecting extra fees, sometimes placing new requirements.  But mostly these efforts don't do much to change the relationship between ride-hailing and public-transit. I work with a local group that spends time thinking about automated car policy, how to get the most good and the least bad.  We've discussed a proposal that fits ride-hailing, in the here and now,