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Gennaro wants to make city green

A recent seven-hour hearing on a package of bills that would in part mandate large buildings to undergo energy upgrades and audits has inspired City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) to tweak the legislation he said would create numerous green jobs and provide city residents with energy savings.

Gennaro, one of the bill’s sponsors, who chaired the July 3 hearing as head of the Council Environmental Protection Committee, said he and other lawmakers plan on revising the legislation in order to address residents’ concerns, including the affordability of undergoing major energy renovations for those living in condominiums and co-ops.

“We are working with condo and co-op owners and renters to address their concerns,” Gennaro said. “I don’t think their concerns are insurmountable, but if the co-ops and condos cannot obtain financing to do these energy upgrades, then we have to speak to that.”

Gennaro’s bill would require large buildings to undergo energy audits once every decade and implement building retrofits recommended as a result of the audits. This, Gennaro said, would help to ensure that many of the city’s older buildings would become increasingly energy-efficient — a move Gennaro said would save residents money on heating and electricity bills and help to create thousands of green construction jobs.

“We’ll be producing less electricity, and that’ll mean greatly reduced pollution,” Gennaro said. “People will be spending less for electricity, air quality will be helped, and people will be doing energy audits and retrofits, which means green jobs. We’re growing the economy, saving consumers’ money and reducing pollution. Nobody else in local government is doing anything like this.”

The two other bills discussed during the hearing would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by tracking energy and water use and mandating buildings of more than 50,000 square feet to upgrade to more environmentally savvy lighting systems.

Gennaro said he is unsure as to when the bill will go before the full Council for a vote and said he plans on spending “as much time as needed” on the language of the law in order to address residents’ concerns on a piece of legislation he said could prove to be replicated throughout the world.

Gennaro met with representatives of the South Korean government July 6 to discuss these environmental initiatives.

“New York City is leading the nation and the world with this legislation,” Gennaro said. “In terms of local government, this bill is arguably the most progressive local government environment bill in the world.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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