NYC Council Approves Five More Energy Efficiency Bills

November 6, 2010

Back in September, the City Council passed five more bills based on recommendations from the Green Codes Task Force – 12 bills from this report have now been passed.  This most recent package has been sent to the mayor for his signature. First, four of the bills improve lighting efficiency in the in a very straight-forward, rational way.  These policy changes simply allow building managers and developers to utilize more energy efficient lighting strategies (or to just let the lights go off) as existing law did not permit it. Int 0262-2010 (CM Cabrera) cuts down on the required artificial lighting in lobbies and hallways.  Rather than lighting these spaces continuously, these spaces can now be lit with natural light, or use occupancy sensors to reduce lighting when the spaces are not in use.  Further, it reduces the required amount of illumination in exits and corridors from 2 foot-candles to 1.  Takes effect 1/1/11 Int 0266-2010 (CM Garodnick) will require the use of vacancy sensors, rather than occupancy sensors, in various rooms in commercial buildings such as classrooms, conference rooms, break rooms, and small offices.  Unlike occupancy sensors, the lights only go back on when manually activated, reducing instances when, for example, someone enters a room quickly but doesn’t stay. Takes effect 12/28/10 Int 0273-2010 (CM Levin) will help reduce energy use for lighting at construction sites.  Previously, lighting standards for construction walkways and sheds were based on requirements for incandescent light bulbs of sufficient wattage.  Rather than requiring, essentially, energy usage, the law will now require 1 foot-candle of illumination at these sights, and a minimum efficiency of 45 lumens per watt or greater for fixtures.  Finally, photosensors will be permitted in these locations to minimize lighting unused outdoors spaces. Takes effect 7/1/11 Int 0277-2010 (CM Ulrich) updates the lighting standards for public areas in apartment buildings.  Now, public hallways and stairs can utilize photosensors and rely on natural light to achieve required illumination standards, and common areas such as laundry rooms can have photosensors installed to turn off the lights when not in use. Finally, Int 0267-2010, sponsored by Council Member Gennaro , adds “environment” to “public safety, health, and welfare” – the ideals that the City’s construction codes set out to protect.  This change in language was also a goal of the Task Force and further cements the City’s philosophical commitment to greening its practices. You can track legislation introduced in the Council based on the Task Force’s report on its website.