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City Hall Roundup: April

Council passes legislation to make city's roofs more energy efficient

The City Council passed a legislative package on April 6 that will make our city's roofs more energy efficient, as part of its ongoing work with the Green Code Task Force.

The bills will alter the Building Code to allow:

  • Builders to use roofing materials that absorb less heat and reflect more heat (when the air is cooler) than traditional construction materials
  • Solar thermal and solar electric collectors or panels and their supporting equipment to be excluded completely from height limitations
  • Combined heat and power systems to be added to the list of rooftop structures

Intro 347-A -- Would modify the Housing Code to require that building roof materials are more reflective, which will absorb less heat and more emissive, releasing more heat when the air is cooler than traditional construction materials. The bill still allows for the continued use of glass, clay, wood or slate and would exempt roofs that use such materials from the new new requirements. Additionally, any portion of a roof that is under mechanical equipment or used for agricultural or certain recreational purposes would also be exempt from the reflective and emissive coating requirements. This legislation would apply to new construction and alterations of roofs in existing buildings where more than 50 percent of the roof area and more than 500 square feet of roofing is being replaced. This legislation will take effect on January 1, 2012.

Intro 341-A -- Will allow solar thermal and solar electric collectors and their supporting equipment to be excluded from height limitations. Currently, existing provisions limit the installation of this technology. Solar energy has become a popular alternative in the past few years to generate energy, because it is pollution free, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is a renewable energy source. This bill will take effect immediately.

Intro 358-A -- Will add heat and power systems to the list of allowable rooftop structures. Combined heat and power systems capture and utilize heat that would otherwise be wasted and offer the potential for substantial fuel savings when utilized in larger buildings, allowing the system to produce both electric power and heat. This bill will take effect immediately.

Actions, Hearings and Initiatives

Clearing Snow and Ice from Bus Shelters: On April 6, the New York City Coucil announced an agreement that will provide a new direct link between the City and Cemusa, the company responsible for removing snow and ice from city bus shelters.

Following Cemusa's widely reported failure to maintain bus shelters per their contractual obligation to the City, Cemusa will be required to provide the Department of Transportation with direct, real-time field communications regarding the conditions of bus shelters during storms, beginning next snow season. With this new direct link between Cemusa's field staff and DOT, transportation officials will have a real-time perspective on Cemusa's progress clearing the approximately 3,200 shelters that they are obligated to maintain. Additionally, council members will be able to compare what they and their constituents are seeing in their districts with what Cemusa is reporting to DOT, providing another layer of accountability.

Achieving Equity in Waste Management: On April 21, the Bloomberg Administration announced a reversal of its decision to delay parts of the city's Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). Specifically, the administration proposed in its Preliminary Budget to delay construction of four marine transfer stations to Fiscal Year 2019. Through the council's advocacy against this decision, the administration reversed course and the SWMP remains intact to relieve communities that disproportionately bear the responsibility of handling the city's waste and to achieve true borough equity in waste management.

Examining Youth Mentoring: On April 29, the Council's Committee on Community Development chaired by Council Member Al Vann, held a hearing on the impact of youth mentoring programs in low-income communities. The committee heard from Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement and former editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine, as well as representatives from other mentoring organizations and youth who have benefited from mentoring programs and services.

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