March 9, 2022

Years ago, I was one of a group of bloggers who met with Bill Clinton -- and even though we wanted to talk about health care, all he wanted to talk about was retrofitting existing skyscrapers. He was insistent about how it was not only necessary for climate change, it would also reduce the political stranglehold oil countries had on international politics. (Of course, this being Bill Clinton, it was not a short conversation.)

Anyway, I thought of this when I saw this new commercial from NY Gov. Kathy Hochol. She's trying to decarbonize New York through her 2023 budget, and of course the real estate and fossil fuel industries are lobbying to stop it. (They're used to Cuomo, who was reluctant to expend political capital on climate issues.)

With Hochul, it's a new ballgame. She's pushing a long list of comprehensive climate solutions. (FYI, New York City has already passed a law requiring new buildings to be all-electric.)

Most notably, Hochul announced plans for 1 million electrified homes and an additional 1 million electrification-ready homes by 2030 and proposed legislation to ensure that all new construction across the Empire State is zero-emissions within the next five years. If approved by the state legislature, the measure would mark the first statewide ban on gas hookups for new buildings in the nation. As noted in a press release detailing Hochul’s “unprecedented commitment” to aggressively reining in the climate-related impact of the built environment, buildings account for more than a third of New York’s overall emissions.

It pays off, just like Bill Clinton said:

A decade ago, a deep retrofit of the Empire State Building reduced energy demand in the iconic skyscraper by more than a third. The now-archetypal project, which involved manufacturing 6,514 super-windows on-site, avoided costly upgrades to the central cooling system and achieved a shocking three-year simple payback. Now the building’s owners and their partners are back for the sequel, part of a superhero squad decarbonizing skyward in Gotham City.

Hochul wants to ban natural gas in new buildings, starting in 2027, and backs offshore wind farms.

While there is no such thing as a "painless" transition to eliminating carbon, these sound like some innovative and significant proposals. Here's hoping Hochul pulls it off.

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