On July 7, 2020, Sue Golden and Hilary Atzrott were quoted in City Limits on the financial impact of COVID-19 as building owners look to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to comply with New York City’s Local Law 97, one of the ten bills passed by the city council and Mayor Bill de Blasio in April 2019 as part of the Climate Mobilization Act.
According to the article, Local Law 97 is meant to help the city reach its goals of achieving a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and then an 80 percent reduction by 2050. The strict carbon emissions cap will begin in 2024, impacting over 50,000 buildings in New York that are 25,000 square feet or larger.
Golden said that because of COVID-19, there is a concern among some building owners that they might not be able to pay for the retrofitting costs if they don’t qualify for financial assistance. “Building owners are now facing the repercussions of and all the economic hardships that came with COVID-19,” said Golden. “The shutdown, tenants not necessarily being current on rent, and this [retrofitting] is an added cost. Whatever the cost might be, this is an added cost that they are looking at, at a time when they may not always have the money to spare.”
To help some building owners with the costs, Local Law 97 established a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing loan. This will allow for qualifying commercial and multifamily building owners to take out a low- or no-interest loan in order to fund the necessary energy efficiency and clean energy retrofits needed to reduce their carbon emissions. However, COVID-19 has delayed the launch of PACE as the city council and the mayor have yet to set the criteria for who is eligible for the loan, as well as the criteria for which third-party lender can finance the loan.
Atzrott said that some of her clients worry that delays in making the loan available to building owners might lead to a rush of applications by landlords hoping to meet the standards and avoid the fines.
“Right now, everyone’s primary concern is of course the impact of COVID but 2024 is going to be right around the corner and these [retrofits] aren’t changes that can just happen for a building overnight,” Atzrott says. “So, I think if it doesn’t stay top of mind for people there is a concern that there will be a rush towards the end to try to apply.”
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