By Anna Gustafson
Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week signed into law a series of bills sponsored by City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) that officials said will make city buildings more environmentally friendly.
Gennaro, who sponsored all five bills, said the legislation — much of which is the first of its kind in the country — will help to conserve energy usage and improve lighting efficiency in buildings throughout the city.
The first bill signed into law last Thursday would ensure that environmental concerns are taken into consideration when constructing buildings. Before this bill, environmental concerns were not explicitly recognized in the city’s construction codes, Gennaro noted.
“This bill codifies what all progressive policymakers already know — that the city’s building and construction codes must make the interest of the environment a fundamental, guiding purpose of the codes,” said Gennaro, the chairman of the Council Committee on Environmental Protection. “This bill sets the conceptual framework for the city to align building and construction codes with sustainability goals.”
The second piece of legislation requires that exits and public corridors that are illuminated must use occupant sensors or other lighting controls that would decrease the amount of power used for the areas.
Another bill would require that some commercial spaces install sensors and controls, including an occupant sensor, that requires lights to be turned on manually and turns off lights automatically when the spaces are vacated. Bloomberg said this “will reduce wasted energy expended to light unoccupied spaces.” Prior to this bill, lights could remain on in commercial buildings for hours even if nobody was in the room.
New lighting standards will be set with a different bill, which will “allow the use of light sensors in order to reduce energy wasted from over-lighting scaffolding, sidewalk bridges and temporary walkways at construction sites,” Bloomberg said. Previously, the code required that all temporary walkways be lit at all times by natural or electric light.
The final bill changes the city’s housing maintenance code to require that occupancy and light sensors are used for lighting hallways and lobbies in residential buildings.
“The five bills we are passing today uses a common-sense approach to help increase the energy efficiency of buildings in the city,” said Councilman Erik Martin Dilan (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Council Housing & Buildings Committee. “They allow buildings to incorporate the use of some of the latest greening efficiency technology and standards without compromising safety.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.