Greening Old Buildings Worthwhile, But Costly

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The mayor and Council Speaker Christine Quinn are pushing a raft of proposals, meant to make existing buildings more energy efficient. WNYC's Arun Venugopal has more.

The legislation would target buildings over 50,000 square feet, requiring owners to perform energy audits every 10 years, then make the necessary upgrades for lighting, water pipes, heating and cooling, provided that the retrofits pay for themselves within five years. But Dick Anderson of the New York Building Congress says upgrades are still expensive.

ANDERSON: Sure there's a payback. If you have environmental improvements. But is it all on the backs of the landlords?

Even environmentalists say the existing funding for energy upgrades - $16 million in stimulus funds - is inadequate. But Ashok Gupta of the National Resources Defense Council says Wall Street is finally coming around.

GUPTA: Now energy efficiency is one of the safest things you can do, as a bank and a lender investing in this area. So we're going to see a lot more interest.

The city says the proposals would cut energy costs by $750 million a year. For WNYC, I'm Arun Venugopal.