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New York´s Dirtiest

The Big
#DirtyBuildings
Polluting our air
Introduction

The world’s nations must rapidly slash climate The City Council, led by new Speaker Corey
pollution to avoid increasing global temperatures Johnson, should act to clean New York City’s air
by over 2º Celcius by 2050, global climate pollu- and fulfill pledges to cut the city’s climate pol-
tion must plunge by over 80%, and fast, as set lution by requiring that these super-polluters
in the Paris climate agreement. New York City’s upgrade to high energy efficiency standard that
leaders claim that they will ensure that the city would slash their energy use and pollution by
achieves these cuts1. over 80% by 2050.
The Council even passed a law in 2014 commit- In the process, the city can create many thou-
ting the city to over 80% cuts in the city’s climate sands of good jobs yearly in renovation, con-
pollution by 20502. However, New York City has struction, and building services, which the city’s
no comprehensive, enforceable policy to slash low-income communities of color badly need.
pollution from its top pollution source: energy Such policy would make New York City the
use in buildings, which is responsible for about world’s leading city fighting climate change while
70% of the city’s climate pollution that fouls our creating good jobs.
air3.
Using public data and sources, this report doc- Last year, Mayor de Blasio proposed and the
uments the city’s worst polluters, which include Council only introduced half-measures that
well-known buildings such as Trump Tower and would not achieve 80x50 pollution cuts from large
Trump International Hotel and Tower; the Kush- buildings. It’s time for New York City to move for-
ner-owned building at 666 Fifth Ave; One 57 on ward boldly to protect our collective future from
“billionaire’s row”; and the luxury building at 15 climate catastrophe while creating good jobs.
Central Park West. These are examples of large Newly-elected Council Speaker Johnson and the
buildings over 50,000 square feet that while only Council should lead the way to enacting this vital
2% of the city’s buildings, collectively cause legislation.
about half of the city’s climate pollution4.

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#DirtyBuildings
One57: Billionaire’s Row “Pencil Tower” is a Luxury Polluter
Crain’s New York Business recently document-
ed that the city’s brand-new super-luxury “pencil
towers” are wasteful energy hogs5. One 57, locat-
ed 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-normal-
ized Source EUI of 287 kbtu/square foot, putting
it in the top 5% 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 Blank-


fein7, 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 Ener-
gy 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 con-
flicts-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 build-
ing 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.
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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 pol-
luter, with a Weather-normalized Source EUI of
267 kbtu/square foot, making it a top 5% pollut-
ing building.

Baccarat Hotel and Residence:


Luxury Name Belies a Super-Polluter

Located at 20 West 53rd, across from the Muse-


um 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 Weath-
er-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 sta-
tus 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, mak-
ing it one of the city’s 5% most-polluting build-
ings.

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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 foot-
print: 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” commer-
cial 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 remote-
ly 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 compo-
sition, while city government largely controls building-level energy efficiency through
building and energy codes. Large buildings are typically owned and managed by so-
phisticated 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 num-
bers 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, im-
proving 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.
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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:

Weather Normalized
Property Name Street Name Borough
Site EUI (kBtu/ft²)

Charles H. Greenthal: 233 EAST 233 East 69th Street Manhattan 590.9
141-05 Pershing Cr - 43321 141-05 Pershing Crescent Queens 536.2
TRM: 2418 Olinville Ave 2418 Olinville Avenue Bronx 436.1
Chimienti: 1304 Rosedale Ave 1302 Rosedale Avenye Bronx 392.7
225 West 86th Street 2360 Broadway Manhattan 369.9
Buchbinder: 230 East 50th St 230 East 50th Street Manhattan 366.2
46-30 Center Blvd. 46-30 Center Boulevard Queens 328.8
53 Broadway - 41567 53 Broadway Brooklyn 211
(7488-7490) - Stella Towers 425 West 50th Street Manhattan 205.2
(7214) - The Accolade Condo 90 Bay Street Landing Staten Island 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:

Weather Normalized
Property Name Street Name Borough
Site EUI (kBtu/ft²)

ATCO - 381 Park Ave 381 Park Avenue South Manhattan 441.3
READE BROADWAY 305 Broadway Manhattan 412.6
6-8 West 18th Street 6 West 18th Street Manhattan 315.5
85 10th Ave 85 10th Avenue Manhattan 254.9
120 East 23rd Street 120 East 23rd Street Manhattan 242.1
11-421 7th 421 7th Avenue Manhattan 206.2
42-40 Bell Plaza 213-11 43rd Avenue Queens 204.8
ABC 7W 24W 47 West 66th Street Manhattan 187.6
JEMB - 75 Broad St 75 Broad Street Manhattan 164.6
510 Fifth Avenue 510 5th Avenue Manhattan 155.9

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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 ac-
reduce 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 Par-
fossil fuels used on-site by buildings that would is climate agreement; the city’s own recent-
apply in 203021. This limited proposal would not ly-passed 80x50 law; and city executive or-
deliver 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 Com- by between 40 - 60% by 2050 across the
mittee Chair Costa Constantinides introduced In- building stock, or over 1% cuts in energy use
tro 1745 of 2017 . If enacted, Intro 1745 would
22
each year on average through 2050. Because
lead to approximately 13% cuts in climate pol- buildings operate on long capital cycles, it is
lution from NYC by 203023, when the legislation vital to set this path in enforceable law imme-
would set standards for buildings over 25,000 diately. With a holistic path set in law, rather
square feet. than piecemeal, temporary standards, build-
ings owners can plan for and implement the
While a substantial improvement over the May- most 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 cli-
housing by triggering Major Capital Improvement mate change: half measures are not enough.
rent increases. Neither proposal maximizes cre- Slashing air pollution also protects New York-
ation of good jobs. er’s lungs, saving lives and our health.
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2. Maximize creation of good, union jobs hir-
ing locally. NYC needs good jobs, particularly
for New Yorkers who do not possess college
or associate degrees or even high school di-
plomas. The scope of energy efficiency up-
grade and renovation work needed to slash
pollution by 80-90% creates thousands of
jobs per year. Ambitious and realistic re-
quirements generate large amounts of work
in construction and renovation, creating jobs
that our communities need. NYC should also
condition city funding for energy efficiency up-
grades on good job and local-hire labor stan-
dards, which maximizes high-quality, union
jobs hiring from low-income communities of
color that have traditionally been under-rep-
resented in these fields.

3. Protect affordable housing. State law gov-


erns 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 Cap-
ital 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 afford-
able housing. New York City Mayor Bill de Bla-
sio 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.

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1
Mayor de Blasio commitment to Paris Agree- 13
OneNYC report 2016 see at page 42: https://
ment: https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/ www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/
news/634-17/nyc-delivers-first-ever-city-plan- pdf/publications/1point5-AligningNYCwithParis-
meet-goals-the-paris-climate-agreement Agrmt-02282018_web.pdf
2
Local Law 66 of 2014 see here: https:// 14
Global Carbon Atlas http://www.globalcar-
www1.nyc.gov/site/sustainability/regulations/ bonatlas.org/en/CO2-emissions
climate-change.page 15
ibid
3
“About 70%” is documented by OneNYC 16
Mayor’s Technical Working Group report
report 2016 see at page 44 citing 66%: https:// at page 6 shows roughly half of NYC building
www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/ GHG emissions come from large buildings over
pdf/publications/1point5-AligningNYCwithPari- 50,000 square feet: http://www.nyc.gov/html/
sAgrmt-02282018_web.pdf and also Mayor’s gbee/downloads/pdf/TWGreport_2ndEdition_
Technical Working Group report at page 1 citing sm.pdf
73%: http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/downloads/ 17
Mayor’s Technical Working Group report at
pdf/TWGreport_2ndEdition_sm.pdf page 4 http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/down-
4
Mayor’s Technical Working Group report at loads/pdf/TWGreport_2ndEdition_sm.pdf and
page 6: http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/down- see also Urban Green Council report 90x50 at
loads/pdf/TWGreport_2ndEdition_sm.pdf https://www.urbangreencouncil.org/content/proj-
5
“High End Condos Are Eating Up Ener- ects/90-50
gy” Crain’s New York Business, May 14, 18
Currently, New York City’s electric grid is
2018. http://www.crainsnewyork.com/arti- overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuel and nuclear
cle/20180514/FEATURES/305149999/high- energy. Only 2% of the NYC grid energy comes
end-condos-are-eating-up-energy from renewable sources. Without a massive
6
StreetEasy at https://streeteasy.com/building/ increase in renewable energy on the grid, NYC
one57-condominium will not reach 80x50. Grid and energy policy is
7
Business Insider http://www.businessinsider. primarily controlled at the State level. See page
com/15-central-park-west-residents-2016-1 8 of the Mayor’s Technical Working Group Re-
8
Quote from Author Michael Gross of “House port as source of 2% renewable energy statistic:
of Outrageous Fortune” via Business Insider http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/downloads/pdf/
http://www.businessinsider.com/15-central-park- TWGreport_2ndEdition_sm.pdf
west-facts-2014-3 19
Public benchmarking data includes some
9
StreetEasy at https://streeteasy.com/build- outliers whose source EIU is impossibly high.
ing/15-central-park-west-new_york This report discounted self-reporting errors
10
NYTimes at https://www.nytimes. in data. Source EIU and other data from the
com/2018/05/17/nyregion/kushner-deal-qatar- examples cited in this report are based on data
666-5th.html that the building’s management provided to the
11
NYC Benchmarking data for 2016 includes city as required by Local Law 84 of 2009 (and
10,281 buildings that reported Weather Normal- amended in 2016). http://www.nyc.gov/html/
ized Source EUI. This report discounts some gbee/downloads/pdf/nycbenchmarkinglaw.pdf
obvious data errors in the data set of impossibly 20
ibid
high Source EUIs for a small number of build- 21
See proposal at https://www1.nyc.gov/office-
ings. Overall, just over 10,000 records were of-the-mayor/news/587-17/mayor-de-blasio-
analyzed and the percentile that buildings are nyc-will-be-first-city-mandate-existing-buildings-
reported is rounded to the nearest 5%. In oth- dramatically-cut/#/0
er words, if a building is in the 83rd percentile 22
See Intro 1745 of 2017 at http://legistar.
of the just over 10,000 records analyzed, it is council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=31
reported as a “top 15%” polluter. See data set 99728&GUID=C3B86314-67AF-4037-B8CD-
available at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/gbee/html/ 2CA4C10E631D&Options=ID%7CText%7C&-
plan/ll84_scores.shtml Search=1745
12
https://streeteasy.com/building/baccarat-ho- 23
Technical analysis of Int. 1745 undertaken by
tel-residences Architecture 2030 for the Climate Works for All
9
coalition
24
Information on MCIs can be found on the Met
Council on Housing website at http://metcoun-
cilonhousing.org/help_and_answers/major_cap-
ital_improvement_rent_increases

Aknowledgement: Thanks to NYCC Volunteer


John Tuck for examining New York City Data
and other research. v

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