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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.


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