Decreasing Building-Related Emissions in New York City: Attempts to Circumvent the Split Incentive Problem to Encourage Energy Efficiency Retrofits


By: Christian Benante

30th April, 2016

In an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio initiated the “80×50” program, committing the City to the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions by eighty percent, from a 2005 baseline, by the year 2050.  The municipal program, catalyzed in substantial part by the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused in 2012, tracks the United Nations’ emission reduction goals for developed countries, intended to avoid the most severe and catastrophic effects of climate change.

A cornerstone of the program is reducing emissions from residential, commercial, and municipally-owned buildings in the City. As of 2013, New York City produced 48.02 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, and its one million buildings generated over three-quarters of that amount. Retrofitting these buildings to increase their energy efficiency is, therefore, required in order to achieve 80×50’s reduction goals.

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