Environment and Energy

NYC Failed to Set Goals for Reducing Greenhouse Gas

September 4, 2015
By Tara Jessup

Scott M. Stringer

New York, NY – The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) has failed to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in municipal buildings and is not properly tracking the City’s efforts to conserve energy in City buildings.

“Climate change is a very real threat, and New York City has set ambitious goals for cutting emissions and greening our buildings,” Comptroller Stringer said. “But by failing to set and meet its own standards, or consistently track greenhouse gas reductions in City buildings, DCAS has become a poster child for ineffectiveness, rather than a role model for sustainability. Good data leads to good policy, and right now the City is far from achieving that standard.”

In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg announced, PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York, a citywide initiative to develop a more sustainable New York City. The initiative included a plan to save energy and reduce GHG emissions of City buildings by 30 percent of 2006 levels by the year 2017. 

Currently, 75 percent of New York City’s GHG emissions come from buildings. DCAS, which manages more than 4,000 municipal buildings, is responsible for ensuring that municipal buildings meet the City’s goal by accurately tracking energy use, benchmarking performance metrics, and spearheading building retrofits for improved efficiency. 

New York City Comptroller Auditors examined energy data for all municipal buildings subject to DCAS’s energy use reporting between January 2010 and December 2014. The audit found that DCAS did not implement the City’s GHG emissions-reduction goals and measures by failing to translate these into agency-level goals. The audit found that City buildings had achieved a 16 percent reduction in GHG emissions from the 2006 baseline, and an average annual reduction rate of 2.3 percent. If the City continues on that course, it will fail to meet its 30 percent goal.

DCAS failed to develop a set of agency-level GHG emissions reduction goals in order to implement the ones established in PlaNYC. Additionally, DCAS did not track its own progress in cutting GHG emissions in City-owned buildings. In 2013, instead of providing actual measurements of annual cost savings and GHG emissions reductions, DCAS used projections made by consultants that are suspect.

“If we’re going to make New York a truly sustainable City, sloppy and imprecise information will not do,” the Comptroller added. “DCAS must get its house in order – now – so we can get down to the business of conserving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the worst effects of climate change.”

September 3, 2015

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