At forum with U.S. Energy Secretary, Maloney calls for city-wide energy efficiency improvements to tackle climate change, create jobs

Oct 6, 2014
Press Release

NEW YORK – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today called for a city-wide effort to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in order to reduce carbon emissions and create jobs. Maloney’s speech at the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) at New York University’s Kimmel Center recognized the progress New York has already made, but noted continued improvements are necessary to meet carbon reduction goals. 

“Energy efficiency is one the clearest and most cost effective means to make businesses more competitive and reduce greenhouse pollution,” said Maloney. “According to the Rockefeller Foundation, investing in retrofits across the residential, commercial, and institutional markets could yield more than $1 trillion of energy savings over 10 years and reduce U.S. emissions by nearly 10 percent. With strategic action those reductions could be huge in New York City where almost three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used to heat, cool, and power buildings.” 

Maloney cited the Empire State Building as an example of the improvements she is looking for. Upgrades to the iconic skyscraper cut the building’s energy bill by $2.8 million over the past year and created 250 new jobs in the process.

Maloney also said New York City has the most LEED certified projects of any U.S. city. Schools like Regis High School are creating innovative green roofs to conserve energy and reduce pollution.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was on hand for the QER, which was established by President Obama earlier this year to examine the nation’s energy system and to recommend energy policies to improve our economy, protect the environment, and enhance national security. The focus of the first year’s efforts is on the nation’s infrastructure for transmission, storage, and distribution of energy. The Department of Energy (DOE) has been designated as the Secretariat for the inter-agency QER process.

 

The full text of Maloney’s remarks as prepared follow:

 

Thank you to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz for that introduction.

I’m pleased to welcome you to New York City.

I’m U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, proudly representing New York’s 12th Congressional District that includes parts of Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.

It’s an incredibly dynamic region filled with some of our country’s most brilliant minds so I’m glad that Secretary Moniz has brought together this group of distinguished business and industry leaders to discuss how to strengthen our country’s energy policies.

New York City is has long taken a lead in making greener, efficient, and sustainable infrastructure and building decisions.

We have the most LEED certified projects of any U.S. City. Schools like Regis High School, which is in the district I represent, are creating innovative green roofs to conserve energy and reduce pollution.

But we know that here in our nation's most populous urbanized area it is going to take a whole shift in planning to reduce our energy consumption.

While overall our City is more efficient in per capita energy use than the U.S. as a whole, we continue to consume more energy in buildings than Americans on average.

Energy efficiency is one the clearest and most cost effective means to make businesses more competitive and reduce greenhouse pollution.

According to the Rockefeller Foundation, investing in retrofits across the residential, commercial, and institutional markets could yield more than $1 trillion of energy savings over 10 years and reduce U.S. emissions by nearly 10 percent. 

And, oh by the way, it would create thousands and thousands of jobs.

With strategic action those reductions could be huge in New York City where almost three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used to heat, cool, and power buildings.

When I served as the first female Chair of the Joint Economic Committee I organized a hearing about innovations in the consumption and production of energy.

At that hearing, Anthony Malkin of Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the iconic Empire State Building, testified about the efforts to retrofit that amazing structure.

He underscored that 85-95 percent of buildings and infrastructure that we will use 25 years from now have already been built, meaning that to make significant changes in energy consumption it isn’t enough to focus on building new and efficient.

We must retrofit our current stock of buildings and, when we do, we’ll see real results.

Just look at what happened at the Empire State Building.

Window refurbishment, targeted insulation, and new energy management systems have led to remarkable savings over the past three years.

The building exceeded its energy efficiency savings goal, cut its energy bill by $2.8 million over the past year alone and created 250 new jobs in the process.

The changes made to this landmark of the City’s skyline demonstrated that greater efficiency can make a real difference in energy consumption but also can help the company’s bottom line.

What can we do to make cleaner energy sources and infrastructure improvements?

Here in our country’s financial capital we know that markets help drive action. Even the best, most environmentally responsible ideas have to make business sense.

The least efficient 5 percent of New York City office buildings consume 4.5 times the amount of energy per square foot per year as the most efficient 5 percent.

We as policymakers and as investors have to help make it viable and effective to retrofit these high energy consumers, whether they are skyscrapers or housing developments.

A 2009 report by McKinsey and Co. found that adopting energy efficiency policies would yield a better than 2-to-1 return on government investment while reducing energy consumption by 23 percent.

The federal government should support state and local government efforts to build and reinforce our country’s failing infrastructure.

It’s in our national security interest to do so and helps to mitigate and prepare for the impact of climate change.

The New York – New Jersey region were devastated after Superstorm Sandy knocked out power sources, vital public services, and almost all modes of transportation.

At a cost of an estimated $65 billion in damages, I’m glad we’re taking a sharp lens to rebuilding better – that means more sustainably and more efficiently.

Retrofitting and renovating in a City of this size requires a lot of long term planning.

I support federal extensions of programs that provide grants and tax incentives to invest in clean energy and efficiency. 

Unfortunately, we’ve seen some of these programs expire and others get renewed right before they expire.

But there’s still good news.

The United States has reduced its total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth since 2005.

In the past few years, thanks in large part to Department of Energy investments, we have tripled the combined electricity generation from wind and solar energy.

The Department’s Better Buildings Challenge has encouraged business leaders to commit to energy savings across their building portfolios of 20% or more over 10 years.

The more than 190 partners are already demonstrating that improvements in energy intensity of more than 2.5% per year are achievable and cost effective.

Here in New York City, just last month Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent over 2005 levels by 2050.

This will be done primarily through improved building energy efficiency in private owned facilities and in City-owned properties like affordable housing.

This is projected to generate 3,500 construction-related jobs and save New Yorkers $1.4 billion each year.

New York is and should remain on the cutting edge of climate initiatives.

I look forward to a lively discussion about how government and businesses can work together to help reach New York City’s and the country’s goals.