By Bill Parry
All New York City businesses, large and small, will be required to keep their doors and windows closed when air conditioning is on or be subject to fines, if the City Council has its way.
A bill sponsored by City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), which passed 44-1 Sept. 17, would levy fines against stores that keep their doors open during the summer months to entice potential consumers inside for the cooler air.
“Shutting the front doors of businesses so that the air-conditioning doesn’t escape can help reduce carbon emissions by thousands of tons,” Constantinides said. “There is no evidence that shows leaving doors open during hot days helps business owners increase sales. In fact, this practice of saving power will see business owners reap real savings in their energy bills.”
The bill expands the already existing mandate that all chain stores and commercial establishments over 4,000 square feet are required to keep their doors closed while air conditioners are operating. According to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, 10,000 businesses would be affected by the new legislation and enacting the policy would result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 22,000 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to removing 3,600 cars from the road.
“This common sense policy will help us reach our goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050,” Constantinides, the chairman of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, said. “It will take the cooperation of everyone to make our city greener and save energy.”
The reduction of energy would significantly affect the city’s power grid, where most plants are over 40 years old and are equipped with technology that has a lower efficiency and larger emissions impact than modern plants. More than half of the city’s power plants are concentrated in Constantinides’ district.
“This new law, if paired with effective enforcement, could bring an end to one of the most brazen forms of energy-wasting in this city,” Eric Goldstein, the city’s environment director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said. “It holds the promise for reduced air pollution in our neighborhoods, fewer brownouts or blackouts on the hottest days of the summer, and big savings in fossil fuel burning.”
Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign the legislation as it fits in with his sustainability plan.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr