New York City is facilitating energy efficiency retrofits in large buildings and those in low and medium-income neighborhoods with a data-driven outreach strategy.

The Challenge

Nearly three-quarters of New York City’s CO2 emissions come from building energy use. Yet, barriers, including complex incentive schemes and bureaucratic hurdles, impede energy retrofits in the city, especially for low-income communities. By identifying buildings with high energy use and reaching out to owners via trusted local organizations, the city is able to offer to residents a streamlined, custom-made strategy to implement green retrofits.


The Solution

New York City’s retrofit programs utilize data-driven analysis and community outreach to pinpoint properties which present the greatest opportunities for energy savings and are at greatest risk of climate change impacts. Using a sophisticated strategy combining benchmarking, audits, and other data sources, the Retrofit Accelerator program is identifying and assisting owners of buildings larger than 4,600 m2 with upgrades. Meanwhile, a complementary program, Community Retrofit, reaches out to owners of buildings in low and moderate-income neighborhoods with the help of influential community organizations and local utilities, offering free technical advisory services for the implementation of energy and water efficiency projects. Since its 2015 launch, Retrofit Accelerator has identified 1,000 projects for energy upgrades and over the next three years, the program will assist at least 1,500 buildings in implementing energy or water efficiency projects. At the same time, Community Retrofit anticipates greenhouse gas reductions of 9,000 metric tons of CO2 over three years from at least 500 completed or initiated retrofits, resulting in $5 million in annual cost savings.


Environmental Benefits - The initiatives include 280 projects that address water conservation to help reduce storm-related wastewater and sewer overflows that pose pollution risks.

Social Benefits - Energy efficiency upgrades will decrease buildings’ electricity load, and increases the ability of the utility to provide stable electricity to customers during extreme weather events.

Economic Benefits - In its first three years, Retrofit Accelerator seeks to assist 450 affordable buildings with upgrades, reducing utility costs for low-income residents.

Health Benefits - The Retrofit Accelerator Program is helping buildings convert to cleaner fuels, which is expected to reduce PM 2.5 emissions by 90 tons each year.


About Cities100

In its second year, Cities100 – presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation. For the first time, this year’s publication features solutions that address the nexus of climate change and social equity.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2016 publication online here and read more about how may­ors will de­liver the aims of the Paris Agree­ment in a fore­ward by Anne Hidalgo, C40 Chair and Mayor of Paris, here.