In this week's Newsletter: Come to Clean Energy Connections on June 19th and learn about NYC's low carbon future, the new NYC Soalr Mandate, Arctic ice melting is terrifying...but science can help and much more!
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Clean Energy Connections: NYC's Low-Carbon Future

On April 18th, the New York City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act, an ambitious set of legislation designed to catalyze greenhouse gas emissions reductions throughout the buildings sector. In 2016, buildings accounted for 66% of emissions; therefore, they must be at the front and center of climate policy in order for the City to meet it's 80 x 50 climate reduction goals. This panel seeks to enlighten attendees on the new legislation and NYC's pathway to a low carbon future.

Costa Constantinides, New York City Council’s 22nd District Representative

Lia Cairone, Assistant Deputy Director, Policy, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability
Jeff Perlman, President of BrightPower
John Mealy, Sustainability Specialist, Murphy Burnham & Buttrick
Additional panelists TBA

6:30 - Doors open
7:00 - Opening remarks
7:15 - Panel discussion
8:30 - Networking

When: Wednesday June 19th from 6:30-8:30pm
Where: The WNYC Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street at Varick St, Manhattan

Tickets are $25 general admission/$10 students with valid ID, and are available here.

The New NYC Solar Mandate

This post, by Here Comes Solar Director Noah Ginsburg, first appeared on the Here Comes Solar blog:

You may have heard about New York City's new Climate Mobilization Act, but did you know that it includes a requirement to install solar on many NYC buildings?

In April 2019, the New York City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act: a series of local laws that will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from New York City’s buildings, which are responsible for 67% of the City’s carbon footprint. The law that received the most attention was Introduction 1253-C, which will establish limits on carbon emissions for buildings greater than 25,000 square feet, driving these large buildings to reduce energy consumption or purchase carbon offset to avoid hefty fines starting in 2024. The bill’s final details were hotly contested by the real estate industry, making for a political showdown that received significant media attention. Meanwhile, the City Council also passed a solar (or green roof) mandate which flew under the radar but goes into effect this year and covers even more buildings! 

Solar Mandate Summary

In April 2019, City Council passed two bills to amend the City’s Building Code in order to require the installation of solar electric systems and/or the installation of green roofs on new construction as well as buildings undergoing substantial renovation/roof replacement. The first bill, Introduction 1032-A, directs the Department of Buildings to modify section 1511 of the Building Code to require “Sustainable roofing zones”, contiguous roof areas greater than 200 square feet, to be populated with solar electric systems and/or green roofs. The second bill, Introduction 276-A, expands the number of impacted buildings by clarifying that residential buildings less than five stories which have 100 square feet of contiguous roof area are also subject to the requirement. The second bill also delays the mandate for affordable housing by five years and directs the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to study the financial feasibility of integrating solar into the City’s affordable housing stock.

The Upshot

  • Solar and/or green roofs will be required for the vast majority of new construction starting in October 2019. Affordable housing gets a five-year grace period.
  • Solar and/or green roofs will be required for substantial renovation projects that involve modifications to the roof structure starting in October 2019.
  • We’re going to see a lot more rooftop solar in the City!

Are you interested in solar for your building? Contact Solar One for a free analysis and consultation!

Visit the HCS blog here to check out the NYC Solar Mandate Fact Sheet.

Silica Microbeads Might Save Arctic Ice

Most people have seen the alarming pictures of the Arctic in summer, when ice that had remained frozen for millennia has recently started to melt at unprecendented rates, releasing sequestered carbon and methane into the atmosphere. Back in 2006, when Dr. Leslie Field, a successful chemical and electrical engineer, was inspired by An Inconvenient Truth to switch her focus to the climate, Arctic ice melt already accounted for 20% of global temperature rise. And the ice back then wasn't nearly as melted as it is now.

Arctic sea ice is highly reflective; the oldest ice boomerangs 80 percent of solar radiation back into space. (Scientists say it has “high albedo.”) As it melts, that reflective shield gives way to exposed ocean surface, which absorbs and traps the sun’s heat. The more ice melts, the more heat the ocean absorbs, melting even more ice. Scientists call this vicious circle an “ice-albedo feedback loop.”

Dr. Field has devised an ingenious way to defeat this loop, and raise the albedo of newer ice to make it behave like ancient ice: Spreading silica microbeads across the ice, to reflect back much more of the sunlight than the new ice can manage on its own. Unlike the plastic microbeads in beauty products that cause disturbing levels of marine pollution, silica is derived from rock quartz and is safe for humans, animals and the environment.

When spread across ice, these beads become a reflective shield against the sun, enhancing the ice’s natural albedo. They’re buoyant, so they float on melt ponds and slushier patches of sea ice. Spread these beads across strategic areas of Arctic ice, Field thought, and more of it might survive through the summers, keeping reflectivity high and short-circuiting that vicious ice-albedo feedback loop.

“By using just a tiny amount of material, you end up making young ice seem more like multiyear ice, and that changes the radiative balance in the Arctic back to where it was,” Field said. “You think, those are pretty humble goals — is it going to be enough? As it turns out, it’s enough. This material makes a very large impact on regrowing ice and preventing further temperature rise in the Arctic.”

You can read more about this on the Grist website here.

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Upcoming Events at Solar One

Community Volunteer Day
Stuyvesant Cove Park, 23rd Street & the East River, Manhattan, 9am-12pm, free
For mmre information and to RSVP, email Park Manager Emily Curtis-Murphy. Pizza lunch will be served.

Upcoming Events

Green Seeds Networking Event #6
Building Energy Exchange, 31 Chambers Street, Suite 609, bet Elk & Centre Sts, Manhattan, 6-8:30pm, free

East Side Coastal Resiliency Project Open House
CB6 Land Use/Parks Committee Meeting, NYU School of Dentistry, 433 First Avenue, Room 210, bet E. 25th & E. 26th Sts, Manhattan, 6:30-8:30pm, free

Gowanus Superfund Town Hall
PS 133, 610 Baltic Street bet 4th & 5th Aves, Brooklyn, 6:30-8:30pm, free

Coops Go Solar Workshop & Tour
838 Park Place, Brooklyn, 6pm, free with RSVP
RSVP to Clara at or (212) 479-3337.

Conquering the Energy Code for Architects & Engineers: Commercial
Urban Green Council, 55 Broad Street, 9th Floor Blue Room, bet Beaver St & Exchange Pl, Manhattan, 9am-5pm, $199 general admission/$175 Urban Green member

Retrofit Requirements: Incentives That Unlock Action
Online, free
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