City Council Passes Legislation on Energy Efficiency and Snow Response

The City Council passed two packages of legislation last Wednesday, one aimed at improving energy efficiency in our city’s buildings and the other to address the slow clean-up following the December 2010 blizzard.

Solar and Cool Roofs Legislation
This package of legislation seeks to encourage owners of existing buildings to reduce emissions and increase the usage of renewable energy.

  • Intro 341: Removes some of the barriers to installing large solar thermal panels on rooftops, by allowing solar thermal and solar electric collectors and/or panels and their supporting equipment to take up more than 1/3 of the area of a roof without being considered an extra floor.
  • Intro 358: Provides a legal definition for ‘combined heat and power systems’ as equipment that simultaneously produces electricity and heat from a single fuel source and reaffirms that these rooftop structures shall not be considered an additional story or be included in the height of the building.
  • Intro 347: Strengthens standards for cool roof coating, which involves covering roofs with white reflective material, rather than the traditional blacktop.  Doing so keeps buildings cooler, thereby reducing emissions during the summer months and improving air quality.  Under this bill, owners who choose to make this improvement to their buildings will have to adhere to the new standards so that the maximum benefit is derived.

Snow Response Legislation
This package of bills was introduced after the infamously slow response on the part of the Bloomberg administration to the December 2010 blizzard.  These pieces of legislation seek to ensure that such a poor response does not happen again.

  • Intro 498: Requires the Commissioner of the NYC Office of Emergency Management to develop certain protocols around how the office should respond when the national weather service forecasts severe weather conditions, including whether to contact other relevant city, state or federal government agencies for emergency assistance
  • Intro 505 – The public will now be notified by city agencies as to the status of government services, such as solid waste collection, public transportation, and the operation of schools in severe weather conditions or other emergency.  The public is to be notified through a website and other media intended to reach the widest population possible.
  • Intro 528: 311 will now have to provide tracking information for each complaint and a unique identifier for each call taker, as well as implement a protocol to deal with high call volume during weather emergencies.
  • Intro 508 – Each year, the commissioner will make available to the Council and on on the city’s website a detailed report about the city’s preparation for and response to all snow events during the preceding 12 month period, including the roles of various relevant city agencies, an assessment of the city’s performance and an inventory of all snow removal equipment.
  • Intro 511 – The Department of Sanitation will assist organizations to establish registries of volunteers to help remove snow on behalf of persons who can’t, due to infirmity, illness or physical incapacity.
  • Int 517 – Each year, the Commissioner will make available to the Council and on the city’s website a snow plowing and removal plan for each borough, including, but not limited to, the level of snow removal staffing per borough, an inventory of snow management equipment, the priority designations of each street in the city (primary, secondary or tertiary), and how the department plans to address snow and ice removal from curb cuts and bus stops.

While the Bloomberg administration initially opposed all of the snow response bills, after negotiations, the Mayor is planning to sign all of the measures into law.

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