NYC Clean Heat has transitioned into the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, New York City’s new one-stop resource for energy and water efficiency. Learn more at www.nyc.gov/retrofitaccelerator
NYC Clean Heat, Local Law 43, and other state legislation regulating heating oils in New York City were put in place to address the public health hazard presented by these fuels. The main concern is pollution: when burned, these oils emit sulfur dioxide (SOx) and fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) that contribute to local air pollution, along with harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change. While levels of SOx have decreased in all heating oils due to Local Law 43 and state law, PM 2.5 levels are only reduced when individual buildings take action and make the switch from heavy heating oils to cleaner alternatives.
The NYC Clean Heat program has ended, and the results are impressive. As of June 30th, 2015, No. 6 heating oil has been phased out as a primary heating oil for New York City’s buildings. To date, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection has achieved 99.8% compliance with the regulation.
Between the beginning of NYC Clean Heat in 2012 and the program’s end in 2015, nearly 6,000 heating oil conversions were completed from No. 6 or No. 4 oil to a cleaner fuel. More than 75% of these conversions have been to one of the cleanest fuels, which include ultra-low sulfur No. 2 oil (USL 2), natural gas, biodiesel, and steam. Roughly 1,500 buildings converted to a cleaner fuel just in the past year, many with the help of NYC Clean Heat.
PM 2.5 emissions in Lower Manhattan, before and after NYC Clean Heat
(Source: Carbon Visuals)
New Yorkers now enjoy the cleanest air in 50 years. PM 2.5 emissions from buildings previously burning No. 6 and No. 4 heating oil have been reduced by 65% since 2011. A recent report from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) found that between 2008 and 2013, citywide levels of SOx have dropped by 69% and PM 2.5 levels have dropped by 23%. These improvements are preventing an estimated 800 deaths and 2,000 emergency room visits and hospitalizations from lung and cardiovascular diseases annually.
Nickel Emissions (an indicator of PM 2.5) in 2008 and 2012
The energy used to heat, power, and cool New York City’s one million buildings accounts for more than 70 percent of citywide GHG emissions. By accelerating conversions of heavy heating oil to cleaner fuels, the NYC Clean Heat program resulted in significant reductions in GHG emissions. The total number of heating oil conversions completed in New York City between 2012 and 2015 are estimated to have reduced the city’s GHG emissions by roughly 800,000 metric tons—or the equivalent of removing more than 160,000 passenger vehicles from the roads.
New York City has made enormous progress, but thousands of buildings continue to pollute the air by burning No. 4 heating oil. Under current law, these buildings are not required to convert their heavy heating oil to a cleaner fuel until 2030. As illustrated in the maps above, high concentrations of these heavy oil buildings are in areas as diverse as the Upper East and West Sides, Upper Manhattan, and South Bronx.
As of September 2015, NYC Clean Heat transitioned into the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, a one-stop resource to help New York City’s building owners and operators implement a wide range of energy and water upgrades. The NYC Retrofit Accelerator is a key component of Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to reducing citywide GHG emissions by 80% from 2005 levels by 2050 (80x50), and was first outlined in the Mayor’s green buildings plan, One City: Built to Last.
The NYC Retrofit Accelerator’s team of efficiency advisors will continue to assist owners and operators of buildings burning No. 4 heating oil convert to a cleaner fuel. For more information about the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, visit www.nyc.gov/retrofitaccelerator.