New York joins U.S. Climate Alliance promising to decarbonize buildings faster


New York Construction Report staff writer

Several new commitments were announced this week by the U.S. Climate Alliance to decarbonize buildings and quadruple heat pump installations by 2030. Also $200 million was announced for the EmPower+ home retrofits program with a goal of creating two million climate-friendly homes by 2030.

“Building emissions make up more than 30 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, and that’s why to reduce this we look to our builders,” Governor Kathy Hochul said at a US Climate Alliance conference, highlighting changes completed at the Empire State Building. The building was originally constructed in the early 1930s and was completed in 13 months.

“Now we are literally changing and have changed the Empire State Building,” she said. “The Empire State Building actually completed an entire retrofit and they now reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 per cent.

“imagine the ripple effect of that with all the skyscrapers you see here. That’s what we’re going for.”

U.S. Climate Alliance members agreed to collectively reach 20 million heat pump installations across the coalition by 2030, with the aim of ensuring at least 40 percent of benefits flow to disadvantaged communities. The agreement comes as buildings account for 32 percent of all emissions in New York State.

Additional commitments include:

  • Exploring the adoption of zero-emission standards for space and water heating equipment.
  • Exploring the adoption of Building Performance Standards like those enacted in Colorado, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Exploring the development of clean heat standards.
  • Working to phase out fossil fuel heating and cooling in new construction by 2027.
  • Supporting the development and adoption of advanced energy-efficient building codes that maximize opportunities for efficient electrification and support solar and electric vehicle readiness.
  • Taking actions to align buildings sector utility resource planning and procurement policies with state climate goals.

These U.S. Climate Alliance commitments build on Governor Hochul’s nation-leading legislation to require zero-emission new construction, which was included in the FY2024 Budget.

EmPower+ combines two long-standing residential programs, EmPower NY and Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, into one singular offer administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). By streamlining these initiatives, NYSERDA is making home energy efficiency upgrades more affordable and accessible for income-eligible customers, contractors, and program partners. Energy efficiency upgrades include adding insulation, installing energy efficient appliances, and switching to clean energy.

“The Building Decarbonization Coalition applauds the U.S. Climate Alliance’s joint commitment to 20 million heat pumps,” said Building Decarbonization Coalition New York Director Lisa Dix. “We celebrate Governor Hochul’s leadership on scaling heat pump adoption to advance the clean heating & cooling market in New York, and dedicated funding to make clean heating and cooling affordable for New Yorkers.

Funding for Empower+ is through the Enacted FY2024 State Budget, the State’s Clean Energy Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. More information about the program and associated funding can be found on NYSERDA’s website.

New York’s climate agenda calls for an “orderly and just transition” that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities.


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