NYC Mayor de Blasio’s Green New Deal Aims to Ban “Inefficient All-Glass Buildings”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has introduced a Green New Deal for the city, which aims to reduce an additional 30% of carbon emissions by 2030, in part by introducing legislation that would ban what he calls “inefficient all-glass buildings that waste energy.”

According to a release from de Blasio’s office, if the legislation passes the city will no longer allow all-glass facades in new construction unless they meet strict performance guidelines, making inefficient glass-heavy building designs a thing of the past.

“Now, we’re going to take it another step because part of the problem here is that buildings got built that never should have been built to begin with if we were thinking about the needs of our Earth. Some of them you can see right behind us in the background,” said de Blasio in a press conference when introducing the Green New Deal. “And so, we are going to introduce legislation to ban the glass and steel skyscrapers that have contributed so much to global warming. They have no place in our city or on our Earth anymore.”

He continued by saying that if a company wants to build a big skyscraper, it can use a lot of glass if they do other things needed to reduce emissions.

“But putting up monuments to themselves that harmed our Earth and threatened our future, that will no longer be allowed in New York City,” he said.

Mayor de Blasio specified that achieving this ban on inefficient buildings will involve changing the city’s energy codes.

“So literally to get a building permit to build you have to be in conformance with the energy code. And we’re going to make very clear that the kind of the glass and steel buildings of the past, and some bluntly were being built very recently, are just not going to be allowed anymore,” he said. “It’s literally going to be a much higher standard and the only way that kind of design would even be acceptable is if a whole host of other changes were made to compensate because those buildings were inherently very inefficient.”

Mark Chambers, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said that this plan doesn’t mean the buildings can’t use glass anymore.

“A perfect example is the American Copper Building right behind us, it’s kind of shaped like the backwards K, you know, that building does use glass but it also uses other materials and it uses high performance glass to make sure that the building is actually working to the benefit of our emissions reductions,” he said at the press conference.

The mayor expects the bill to be passed this year and for implementation to happen quickly. He said the city needs to allow time for the codes to be rewritten and for them to go into effect, which he said could happen as early as next year.

The Green New Deal policies are outlined in “OneNYC 2050: Building a Strong and Fair City.” Some of the action plans include pursuing deep cuts in emissions and gains in efficiency across all buildings. To do this the action plan includes milestones such as passing legislation and developing rules for buildings over 25,000 square feet by December 31, 2020 and working toward deep cuts in emissions for small buildings and affordable buildings by December 31, 2021.

However, the OneNYC 2050 action plan also aims to create a built environment that encourages better mental health, which glass has been shown to do by allowing access to daylighting and views of nature.

Mark Seeton, director of sales at Vitro Architectural Glass, commented on how this legislation could impact the glass industry.

“Dating as far back as the 1930’s, Vitro has a long history of producing glass that reduces heat-gain, optimizes daylighting and promotes energy consumption, so we are always glad to see codes that proliferate the use of modern, energy-efficient glazings,” he says. “Time will tell exactly how great an impact this will have on the glass industry. As with legislation, the devil will be in the details and how the code requirements will be administered. Large cities, like New York City, have been leaders in advancing building codes that enhance building performance and we certainly hope this will usher in greater adoption of high-performing, low-E glass across the country.”

Editor’s note: This story is still developing and more reactions from the industry will be added as available.

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