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City Council Members Push for Passage of Green Buildings Act

New York City

Green Buildings Act, property tax abatements, co-ops and condos, Local Law 97, building carbon emissions.

Solar panels are one of many retrofits that would earn property tax abatements under the Green Buildings Act.

March 11, 2024

More than two dozen New York City Council members have come out strongly in favor of the carrot over the stick. In two letters to state officials, the council members urge swift passage of the Green Buildings Act, which would provide tax relief for co-ops and condos pegged to their success at reducing their buildings' carbon emissions as required by the state's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and Local Law 97 of the city's Climate Mobilization Act.

The carrot of tax relief, the letters contend, is preferable to the stick of fines co-op and condo boards face if they fail to comply with carbon reduction goals laid out in Local Law 97, which went into effect Jan. 1.

The first letter, written by Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) and signed by 25 other council members, was sent to Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie, the Bronx Times reports. The letter reads: “This legislation will deliver clear wins for our environment, our economy and our constituents. We hope you will consider passing it as quickly as possible so together we can achieve New York City and state climate goals.”

The second letter, signed by Kristy Marmorato (D-Bronx) and eight other city council members, was sent to the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul. It reads: “The enactment of (the Green Buildings Act) will not alleviate all of the problems associated (in) compliance with Local Law 97, but it would certainly help to balance the state goals of improving our city’s environment with maintaining the viability of affordable homes. We urge you to prioritize its passage, as your support in swifty enacting this legislation is essential for ensuring our constituents are not alone shouldering the burden of complying with this law.”

The Green Buildings Act, A-5050 in the Assembly, was introduced by Ed Braunstein (D-Queens). A companion bill in the state Senate, S-934A, was introduced by Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn). The bills tie a reduction in carbon emissions to a 10-year property tax abatement. Based on a sliding scale, the abatements would start at 5% of the cost of energy-efficiency projects that result in an emissions reduction of between 2% and 5%, up to a 9.5% abatement for an emissions reduction of between 25% to 29%. Buildings that cut their greenhouse-gas emissions 30% or more would receive a tax abatement of up to 20 years.

Eligible retrofits include installation of solar panels and green roofs, improvements to electrical systems and insulation, installation of energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and much more.

“There’s no question that the implementation of Local Law 97 is going to present co-ops and condos with a huge financial burden,” Braunstein told Habitat after he introduced his bill in the Assembly. “Offering financial relief in the form of a tax abatement will help them offset the costs of the work they need to do.”

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