NY City To Ease Building Regulations for Green Building Elements

Monday, December 12, 2011

by Amanda Fung, CRAINS NEW YORK BUSINESS, December 12, 2011

image New zoning proposals designed to make it easier for owners to make their buildings more energy-efficient and sustainable began the formal city public approval process on Monday.

Existing zoning laws can actually impede owners trying to build green or retrofit their buildings. The new proposals are expected to lift some of those impediments. The changes include allowing owners to build thicker walls to accommodate external insulation, which could reduce energy consumption by as much as half, and allowing the installation of solar panels even if they would add more height to a building than zoning rules allow.

While there is no time limit for the approval process, proposals will be reviewed by all the community boards across the city and all five borough presidents. Proposals need to be approved by the City Council before they can be adopted citywide.

“This is the most comprehensive citywide initiative dealing with energy efficiency and green building in the U.S.,” said Amanda Burden, chair of the City Planning Commission. “This is about being a greener city, providing cleaner air and water as well as saving money on utility bills.”

The city’s roughly one million buildings cost $15 billion a year to power and heat and account for 80% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The changes will promote the installation of solar panels on rooftops, which will reduce electrical bills and carbon emissions.

Additionally, storm-water detention systems and skylights can be installed anywhere below the parapet on rooftops, regardless of building height. Wind turbines would also be allowed to rise up to 55 feet above, or up to half the height of the building, on the rooftop of commercial and industrial buildings taller than 100 feet.

Exemptions for floor area and height limits are also proposed for greenhouses built atop commercial and industrial buildings. Greenhouses can allow year-round local food production, something several local schools have expressed interest in, according to Ms. Burden. While the new zoning changes will promote building greener, they also encourage owners to retrofit existing buildings,and add local food production.

“These initiatives are groundbreaking and go directly after removing obstacles to renewable energy generation,” said Ms. Burden. “We are very excited.” [Read story on home page]

Read more: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20111212/REAL_ESTATE/111219985#ixzz1gNpHgT00
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