Expert Voices: Stacy Lee, Policy Analyst, NYC Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability

New York City Green Buildings’ New One Stop Shop

Two weeks ago, the big picture of New York City’s green building efforts became a little clearer. Until now, a building owner, an architect, a consultant, a student, a policymaker, or anyone interested in learning what New York City was doing with buildings needed to delve through numerous City agency websites to find information, all the while finding it difficult to grasp the big picture of how these efforts were making a collective impact on the City’s sustainability goals. Even City employees had a hard time connecting agencies’ efforts. Facilities managers and other individuals complying with various regulations, such as benchmarking under the city’s comprehensive Greener, Greater Buildings Plan would have to research disconnected web pages jam-packed with information, yet difficult to navigate.

Recognizing these challenges, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and the Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, with input from various City agencies and other organizations, created the PlaNYC Green Buildings & Energy Efficiency (GBEE) website, available at www.nyc.gov/gbee. GBEE is the latest one stop shop for information about New York City efforts in buildings and energy efficiency; similar resources are emerging from other cities, such as Philadelphia. Not only does GBEE aggregate information about efforts undertaken by different agencies. It also provides that valuable context absent from each stand-alone website. GBEE links related projects together on the same page, categorizes efforts based on their regulatory, incentivized and other characteristics, and provides resources on every page.

GBEE also contains a section on the history of New York City’s leadership in green building and energy efficiency policies. Few are aware that the role of large buildings in the environmental movement took hold in New York City in the late 1990s, resulting in the world’s first green skyscraper and the first green residential high rise in the U.S. – both in New York City. Through a brief glimpse of the past, viewers can see how far the City has come in greening its buildings and get a better sense of the City’s next steps. Additionally, the City is continuing its tradition of innovation with efforts such as the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge, Municipal Entrepreneurial Testing Systems (METS), and NYC CoolRoofs. As GBEE brings together all these efforts together for the first time, interconnected content demonstrates how the whole is greater than the sum of many parts.