On October 6, 2010, New York City enacted five laws that will improve the energy efficiency of new and renovated buildings. The new laws incorporate the recommendations of the New York City Green Codes Task Force, which was jointly created by the Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. These laws bring to 12 the number of recommendations by the Task Force that have been enacted into law.
One of the newly enacted laws (Intro. 267-A) adds the term “environment” to the list of goals which the City’s building codes are charged with promoting. Thus, the codes must now not only consider “public safety, health, and welfare,” but the “environment” as well. This change is effective immediately.
The other four laws, which all go into effect on January 1, 2011 (except for Intro. 273-A, which goes into effect on July 1, 2011), improve the energy efficiency of lighting in buildings largely by replacing outdated standards in current codes and by requiring the installation of new technologies. Existing building code requires exits and public corridors to be illuminated at all times by electrical lighting fixtures, even when the space is lit by daylight or is unoccupied. One of the laws (Intro 262-A) will allow such spaces to be lit by automatic, occupant sensor or photosensor lighting controls, as long as a minimum level of illumination is maintained. The law also lowers the level of lighting illumination for exits, exit discharges and public corridors.
Lights often remain on in commercial buildings, even if a room is unoccupied. A second law (Int. 266-A) requires certain commercial spaces to install lighting sensors and controls, including sensors that automatically turn off the lights when the space is vacated and only turn on manually, thus avoiding lights going on when a person enters a room only briefly.
The existing building code requires all temporary walkways and foot bridges, as well as the underside of sidewalk sheds, to be illuminated based on incandescent light bulbs of specified wattage. A third law (Intro. 273-A) amends the code by replacing watts, which is a measure of how much electricity is used, with foot-candles, which is a measure of luminosity. This will create more energy efficient lighting along these structures by allowing photosensors to be used to control electric lighting in such areas according to the amount of daylight available.
Finally, existing code requires the use of incandescent lights in certain common areas of multiple dwellings buildings, implying that these lights should always be left fully on. A fourth law (Intro. 277-A) allows the use of automatic, occupant sensors or photosensors lighting controls in laundry rooms, hallways, stairways and other designated common areas if certain safety conditions are met.
[note: Justin Birzon assisted in the drafting of this post]