New YorkÂ´s Dirtiest
The Big #DirtyBuildings Polluting our Air
Introduction The world’s nations must rapidly slash climate pollution to avoid increasing global temperatures by over 2º Celcius by 2050, global climate pollution must plunge by over 80%, and fast, as set in the Paris climate agreement. New York City’s leaders claim that they will ensure that the city achieves these cuts1. The Council even passed a law in 2014 committing the city to over 80% cuts in the city’s climate pollution by 20502. However, New York City has no comprehensive, enforceable policy to slash pollution from its top pollution source: energy use in buildings, which is responsible for about 70% of the city’s climate pollution that fouls our air3. Using public data and sources, this report documents the city’s worst polluters, which include well-known buildings such as Trump Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower; the Kushner-owned building at 666 Fifth Ave; One 57 on “billionaire’s row”; and the luxury building at 15 Central Park West. These are examples of large buildings over 50,000 square feet that while only 2% of the city’s buildings, collectively cause about half of the city’s climate pollution4.
The City Council, led by new Speaker Corey Johnson, should act to clean New York City’s air and fulfill pledges to cut the city’s climate pollution by requiring that these super-polluters upgrade to high energy efficiency standard that would slash their energy use and pollution by over 80% by 2050. In the process, the city can create many thousands of good jobs yearly in renovation, construction, and building services, which the city’s low-income communities of color badly need. Such policy would make New York City the world’s leading city fighting climate change while creating good jobs. Last year, Mayor de Blasio proposed and the Council only introduced half-measures that would not achieve 80x50 pollution cuts from large buildings. It’s time for New York City to move forward boldly to protect our collective future from climate catastrophe while creating good jobs. Newly-elected Council Speaker Johnson and the Council should lead the way to enacting this vital legislation.
#DirtyBuildings One57: Billionaire’s Row “Pencil Tower” is a Luxury Polluter Crain’s New York Business recently documented that the city’s brand-new super-luxury “pencil towers” are wasteful energy hogs5. One 57, located at 157 West 57th Street, where the average apartment sold for just over $17 million dollars ($5,850 per square foot)6 has a Weather-normalized Source EUI of 287 kbtu/square foot, putting it in the top 5% of polluting buildings. In 2016, the building’s Energy Star score was an abysmal 2 out of 100.
15 Central Park West: Exclusive Address is a #DirtyBuilding Home to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein7, 15 Central Park West has been called the “world’s most powerful address”8. It’s also among the city’s worst polluters, with the lowest Energy Star score possible: 1 out of 100 in 2016. In 2016, the building was in the top 10% of polluters with a reported a Weather-normalized Source EUI of 222 kbtu/square foot. The average sale price of an apartment in the building is over $15 million (or $5,645 per square foot)9.
Kushner’s 666 Fifth Avenue: A #DirtyBuilding at the Center of Trump Administration Corruption 666 Fifth Avenue has been a disastrous $1.8 billion investment for the Kushner real estate business, which wildly overpaid for the building before seeing its value evaporate. The building is at the center of a web of Trump family conflicts-of-interest and corruption, with a bail out for the investment reportedly in the offing by a Qatar-government connected business10. The Kushners badly need a bailout because the building is bleeding big losses because they overpaid for the property. In the case of 666 Fifth Avenue, corrupt politics go with pollution: the building’s Weather-normalized Source EUI was 285 kbtu/ square foot in 2016, putting it in the top 5% of polluters.
Trump Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower, like Trump, Emit a Lot of Hot Air Trump Tower, Donald Trump’s residence in New York City and home of the Trump campaign at 721 Fifth Avenue, is a #DirtyBuilding: its 2016 Weather-normalized Source EUI was 208 kbtu/ square foot, putting it in the top 15% of polluting buildings11. Trump International Hotel & Tower, located at 1 Central Park West, is also a top polluter, with a Weather-normalized Source EUI of 267 kbtu/square foot, making it a top 5% polluting building.
Baccarat Hotel and Residence: Luxury Name Belies a Super-Polluter Located at 20 West 53rd, across from the Museum of Modern Art, the exclusive Baccarat Hotel and Residence carries a worst-possible 1 out of 100 Energy Star rating and in 2016 had a Weather-normalized Source EUI of 386 kbtu/square foot, making it among the 5% worst polluters in the city. With an $11 million average price tag for an apartment ($4,214 per square foot), the building’s luxury spaces are owned by the 1% of the 1%12.
Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue: Luxury Office Building is a Top Polluter Proclaiming itself “The World’s Most Important Building” through a quote by New York Times’ writer Herbert Muschamp, the Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue extolls its amenities and status as an architectural icon. At the same time, the building is a top-polluting dirty building, with a 2016 Source EIU of 414 kbtu/square foot, making it one of the city’s 5% most-polluting buildings.
2% of the City’s Buildings Generate About 50% of the City’s Pollution In 2016, New York City generated about 52.0 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) of climate pollution13. This staggering amount of pollution dwarfs most of the world’s countries climate pollution14. Energy use in the city’s hundreds of thousands of buildings represents about 70% of this massive climate pollution footprint: about 36 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). Put another way, New York City’s buildings generate about twice as much climate pollution as the entire country of Kenya, whose population is almost 50 million people15. Among the city’s many buildings, most of the pollution is generated by the largest buildings, those over 50,000 square feet, which are just over 2% of the city’s buildings. Just over 2% of the city’s largest buildings, often luxury residential buildings or “Class A” commercial office space, generate about 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) climate pollution yearly16.
Energy Efficiency Can Slash Energy Waste and Reduce Air Pollution Climate pollution from energy use by buildings is generated almost entirely from two sources: Fossil fuel use on site (such as in a boiler) and pollution generated remotely while producing electricity used in buildings. Reviews by technical experts of the city’s building stock show that climate pollution can be slashed by over 80% by cutting energy use in buildings by 40-60% at the same time as the electric grid transitions to reliance on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels17. The combination of far greater energy efficiency and a much greener grid18 is the city’s path to reach 80x50 pollution cuts. On a policy level, state government largely controls the electric grid’s composition, while city government largely controls building-level energy efficiency through building and energy codes. Large buildings are typically owned and managed by sophisticated entities with substantial financial and organizational resources to upgrade their properties to high energy efficiency. Cutting energy use also will clean New York City’s air by reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned on-site in buildings and by fossil-fuel burning power plants in New York City and the city’s airshed. New York City can and should require buildings to slash their energy use.
Energy Efficiency Upgrades Create Jobs and Save Money Some energy efficiency improvements are simple: better lighting, insulating pipes, sealing air leaks, and training building staff to optimize operations. Other upgrades require more work: more insulation, capping elevator shafts, better roofs, improved windows, installing more-efficient building heating and cooling systems such as heat pumps, or even re-skinning the building’s façade. All this work requires large numbers of workers, creating jobs in renovation and construction. New York City could trigger a wave of hiring by building contractors by requiring and enforcing that all large buildings must reach high energy efficiency. New hires in the industry would come predominantly from the city’s low- and moderate-income communities of color, improving job prospects for workers who need good jobs – and increasing the amount of work for the current workforce. In general, energy efficiency improvements, although sometimes costly if they involve large-scale capital upgrades, ultimately save enough in energy costs that they pay for themselves, enabling building owners to finance these upgrades over time. 5
Table of Other Selected Top Polluters – Office Buildings New York City requires large buildings to report their energy and water use. The most recent “benchmarking” data is from 2015. The data set includes various measures of energy efficiency, including Source Energy Use Intensity (“Source EIU”) and building Energy Star scores. Ten of the worst commercial buildings as ranked by their Weather Normalized Source EIU include19:
Charles H. Greenthal: 233 EAST 141-05 Pershing Cr - 43321 TRM: 2418 Olinville Ave Chimienti: 1304 Rosedale Ave 225 West 86th Street Buchbinder: 230 East 50th St 46-30 Center Blvd. 53 Broadway - 41567 (7488-7490) - Stella Towers (7214) - The Accolade Condo
233 East 69th Street 141-05 Pershing Crescent 2418 Olinville Avenue 1302 Rosedale Avenye 2360 Broadway 230 East 50th Street 46-30 Center Boulevard 53 Broadway 425 West 50th Street 90 Bay Street Landing
Manhattan Queens Bronx Bronx Manhattan Manhattan Queens Brooklyn Manhattan Staten Island
Weather Normalized Site EUI (kBtu/ft²) 590.9 536.2 436.1 392.7 369.9 366.2 328.8 211 205.2 194.2
Table of Other Selected Top Polluters – Multifamily Ten other high-polluting large residential buildings as ranked by their Weather Normalized Source EIU include20:
ATCO - 381 Park Ave READE BROADWAY 6-8 West 18th Street 85 10th Ave 120 East 23rd Street 11-421 7th 42-40 Bell Plaza ABC 7W 24W JEMB - 75 Broad St 510 Fifth Avenue
381 Park Avenue South 305 Broadway 6 West 18th Street 85 10th Avenue 120 East 23rd Street 421 7th Avenue 213-11 43rd Avenue 47 West 66th Street 75 Broad Street 510 5th Avenue
Manhattan Manhattan Manhattan Manhattan Manhattan Manhattan Queens Manhattan Manhattan Manhattan
Weather Normalized Site EUI (kBtu/ft²) 441.3 412.6 315.5 254.9 242.1 206.2 204.8 187.6 164.6 155.9
Conclusion NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the NYC Council Should Enact Legislation to Clean Up #DirtyBuildings
In September of 2017, Mayor de Blasio pro- The Climate Works for All coalition, in contrast, posed enactment of limited legislation that would supports enactment of legislation that would acreduce energy use in large buildings over 25,000 complish three principles: square feet. The Mayor’s proposal would lead to only 7% cuts in the city’s climate pollution by 1. Slash climate and air pollution 80-90% setting maximum energy use intensity levels for by 2050 at a pace that will satisfy the Parfossil fuels used on-site by buildings that would is climate agreement; the city’s own recentapply in 203021. This limited proposal would not ly-passed 80x50 law; and city executive ordeliver 80x50 pollution cuts from large buildings. ders. There are 32 years to 2050. Meeting the It also would cut pollution far too slowly from the city’s commitment to slash pollution 80-90% city’s top source of pollution. In October, City requires cutting energy use in large buildings Councilman and Environmental Protection Comby between 40 - 60% by 2050 across the mittee Chair Costa Constantinides introduced Inbuilding stock, or over 1% cuts in energy use 22 tro 1745 of 2017 . If enacted, Intro 1745 would each year on average through 2050. Because lead to approximately 13% cuts in climate polbuildings operate on long capital cycles, it is lution from NYC by 203023, when the legislation vital to set this path in enforceable law immewould set standards for buildings over 25,000 diately. With a holistic path set in law, rather square feet. than piecemeal, temporary standards, buildings owners can plan for and implement the While a substantial improvement over the Maymost cost-effective long-term solutions - and or’s proposal, Intro 1745 of 2017 would also fall avoid future costs resulting from locked-in far short of achieving the 80x50 pollution cuts capital spending decisions that would need to to which the city is committed. Both proposals be undone in the future. As President Obama would also lead to rent hikes in rent-regulated put it, we don’t get a second chance on clihousing by triggering Major Capital Improvement mate change: half measures are not enough. rent increases. Neither proposal maximizes creSlashing air pollution also protects New Yorkation of good jobs. er’s lungs, saving lives and our health. 7
2. Maximize creation of good, union jobs hiring locally. NYC needs good jobs, particularly for New Yorkers who do not possess college or associate degrees or even high school diplomas. The scope of energy efficiency upgrade and renovation work needed to slash pollution by 80-90% creates thousands of jobs per year. Ambitious and realistic requirements generate large amounts of work in construction and renovation, creating jobs that our communities need. NYC should also condition city funding for energy efficiency upgrades on good job and local-hire labor standards, which maximizes high-quality, union jobs hiring from low-income communities of color that have traditionally been under-represented in these fields. 3. Protect affordable housing. State law governs rent-regulated housing, which about 2 million New Yorkers rely on. Because of the real estate industry’s power in Albany, state rent laws are tilted against tenants, allowing landlords in rent-regulated housing to pass along capital costs to tenants as “Major Capital Improvement” rent hikes24. Therefore, the city should not pass a plan that would lead to rent increases for tenants in rent-regulated housing. Any program that is enacted must not worsen New York’s crisis of displacement and homelessness by causing MCIs. The New York City Council, led by Speaker Johnson, should introduce, hold hearings on, and enact legislation that would fight climate change; maximize good jobs; and protect affordable housing. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio should support such legislation as well. This report documents some of worst polluters in the city, many of whom are super-luxury developers and building owners. It’s time for New York City to move forward and require the Trumps and Kushners of the world to stop polluting our air and fueling the climate crisis.
Mayor de Blasio commitment to Paris Agreement: https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/ news/634-17/nyc-delivers-first-ever-city-planmeet-goals-the-paris-climate-agreement 2 Local Law 66 of 2014 see here: https:// www1.nyc.gov/site/sustainability/regulations/ climate-change.page 3 “About 70%” is documented by OneNYC report 2016 see at page 44 citing 66%: https:// www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/ pdf/publications/1point5-AligningNYCwithParisAgrmt-02282018_web.pdf and also Mayor’s Technical Working Group report at page 1 citing 73%: http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/downloads/ pdf/TWGreport_2ndEdition_sm.pdf 4 Mayor’s Technical Working Group report at page 6: http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/downloads/pdf/TWGreport_2ndEdition_sm.pdf 5 “High End Condos Are Eating Up Energy” Crain’s New York Business, May 14, 2018. http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20180514/FEATURES/305149999/highend-condos-are-eating-up-energy 6 StreetEasy at https://streeteasy.com/building/ one57-condominium 7 Business Insider http://www.businessinsider. com/15-central-park-west-residents-2016-1 8 Quote from Author Michael Gross of “House of Outrageous Fortune” via Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/15-central-parkwest-facts-2014-3 9 StreetEasy at https://streeteasy.com/building/15-central-park-west-new_york 10 NYTimes at https://www.nytimes. com/2018/05/17/nyregion/kushner-deal-qatar666-5th.html 11 NYC Benchmarking data for 2016 includes 10,281 buildings that reported Weather Normalized Source EUI. This report discounts some obvious data errors in the data set of impossibly high Source EUIs for a small number of buildings. Overall, just over 10,000 records were analyzed and the percentile that buildings are reported is rounded to the nearest 5%. In other words, if a building is in the 83rd percentile of the just over 10,000 records analyzed, it is reported as a “top 15%” polluter. See data set available at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/html/ plan/ll84_scores.shtml 12 https://streeteasy.com/building/baccarat-hotel-residences
OneNYC report 2016 see at page 42: https:// www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/ pdf/publications/1point5-AligningNYCwithParisAgrmt-02282018_web.pdf 14 Global Carbon Atlas http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/en/CO2-emissions 15 ibid 16 Mayor’s Technical Working Group report at page 6 shows roughly half of NYC building GHG emissions come from large buildings over 50,000 square feet: http://www.nyc.gov/html/ gbee/downloads/pdf/TWGreport_2ndEdition_ sm.pdf 17 Mayor’s Technical Working Group report at page 4 http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/downloads/pdf/TWGreport_2ndEdition_sm.pdf and see also Urban Green Council report 90x50 at https://www.urbangreencouncil.org/content/projects/90-50 18 Currently, New York City’s electric grid is overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuel and nuclear energy. Only 2% of the NYC grid energy comes from renewable sources. Without a massive increase in renewable energy on the grid, NYC will not reach 80x50. Grid and energy policy is primarily controlled at the State level. See page 8 of the Mayor’s Technical Working Group Report as source of 2% renewable energy statistic: http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/downloads/pdf/ TWGreport_2ndEdition_sm.pdf 19 Public benchmarking data includes some outliers whose source EIU is impossibly high. This report discounted self-reporting errors in data. Source EIU and other data from the examples cited in this report are based on data that the building’s management provided to the city as required by Local Law 84 of 2009 (and amended in 2016). http://www.nyc.gov/html/ gbee/downloads/pdf/nycbenchmarkinglaw.pdf 20 ibid 21 See proposal at https://www1.nyc.gov/officeof-the-mayor/news/587-17/mayor-de-blasionyc-will-be-first-city-mandate-existing-buildingsdramatically-cut/#/0 22 See Intro 1745 of 2017 at http://legistar. council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=31 99728&GUID=C3B86314-67AF-4037-B8CD2CA4C10E631D&Options=ID%7CText%7C&Search=1745 23 Technical analysis of Int. 1745 undertaken by Architecture 2030 for the Climate Works for All
coalition 24 Information on MCIs can be found on the Met Council on Housing website at http://metcouncilonhousing.org/help_and_answers/major_capital_improvement_rent_increases Aknowledgement: Thanks to NYCC Volunteer John Tuck for examining New York City Data and other research.