February Policy Round-Up

March 4, 2009

Green in the Stimulus Bill This biggest news of this past month was the passage and signing of the Stimulus Bill on Capital Hill. Notable to GreenHomeNYC is the funding that may benefit energy efficiency upgrades in private buildings.  This Business Week list lays out the dollar amounts: $30 billion for a smart power grid, advanced battery technology, and energy efficiency measures. $20 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next 10 years. A three-year extension of the production tax credit for electricity derived from wind (through 2012) and for electricity derived from biomass, geothermal, hydropower, landfill gas, waste-to-energy, and marine facilities (through 2013). Extended tax credits, through 2010, for such purchases as new furnaces, energy-efficient windows and doors, or insulation. $5 billion to improve the energy efficiency of more than 1 million homes. $6.3 billion for increasing energy efficiency in federally supported housing programs. While much of the funding goes to state and local governments to improve their own facilities, or for the utility-scale generation of renewable energy, there are opportunities for funding to make its way to individuals and business owners. A few more potential impacts are discussed here and here.  According to Salon.com, “the greens see blue skies ahead.” NY State is developing a committee to oversee distribution of the federal funding to public infrastructure projects, but it remains to be seen how the other money will make its way into the economy. A nice listing of “shovel-ready” projects for which Mayors around the country have requested specific assistance has been developed.  The housing projects in New York (nothing in NYC yet) and energy programs in New York (and again, nothing in NYC) are posted.  This list will continually change as more projects are added and removed. A listing does not mean the White House will approve it.  The meaning of these programs is described at the Stimuluswatch.org website. New York State Weatherization Program Receives A Boost As an aside, one of the greenest programs around in New York State, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), is receiving an additional $48 million this year form the federal government to weatherize homes for low-income seniors, individuals, and families.  This program has highlighted for years that energy efficient buildings make economic sense.  Perhaps a program of this nature will be developed one day for all homeowners and renters? New York City Building Plans Go Online And completely unrelated – the City has created a system to allow for the online public review of diagrams of proposed new buildings or major enlargements.  We are the first city in the country to attempt this and it will provide residents with even more information on what’s being built in their neighborhoods. Architects and engineers will be required to submit diagrams (for new buildings) that must contain detailed information for the public to determine whether a project is in compliance with required zoning regulations.  Further, a new public review process will be integrated into the permitting process.  This also changes procedures for those proposing new construction or major enlargements to their buildings – it’s something to be aware of. See you next time Adam