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April 2011 Archives

April 12, 2011

New York City Announces Green Lease for Commercial Office Space in World Trade Center

On April 5, 2011, New York City announced that the law firm of WilmerHale signed a commercial office space lease with the developer of the World Trade Center reconstruction project that incorporates language for sharing the costs and benefits of energy-saving measures.

The "green lease" language was developed by real estate industry leaders, environmentalists, and others working with the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. According to the city, it will be used by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services as a model when the city leases building space. Most standard leases have a "split incentive" problem, where owners pay for building energy upgrades while renters reap the savings. However, in this instance, the lease incorporates language requiring tenants to share owner's capital improvement costs. Although traditional commercial office space leases allow tenants to share this cost, the language is rarely used because the period for recouping the costs is too long. The new language counts savings over the length of a projected payback period instead of the useful life of the improvements, thereby shortening the amount of time it takes for the owner to recoup the savings.

According to the city, this project grew out of a Natural Resources Defense Council forum bringing together landlords, tenants, and energy and real estate experts, and is part of a broader green buildings policy pursued by the city that includes, among other things, the Greener, Greater Buildings plan for existing buildings, and the Greening the Codes project, which is looking at ways to green the city's building code. Additional information on the green lease project is available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2011a/pr109-11.html.

April 14, 2011

EPA Region 2 Proposes No-Discharge Zone for Long Island Sound

In an April 11, 2011 notice in the Federal Register, EPA Region 2 proposed that all of Long Island Sound would be covered by a Vessel Waste No-Discharge Zone.

The no-discharge zone would encompass approximately 760 square miles, including the open waters, harbors, bays, and navigable tributaries of the sound and a portion of the East River. It would run from the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City in the west to the northern bounds of Block Island Sound in the east. According to EPA, Mamaroneck Harbor, Huntington-Northport Bay Complex, Port Jefferson Complex, Hempstead Harbor, and Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Complex had been previously designated as no-discharge zones and thus would not be affected by the proposal for the rest of the sound.

According to the notice, New York State is petitioning EPA for a determination that adequate pump-out facilities are reasonably available for the sound's waters, allowing a complete prohibition of sewage discharges from boats. EPA states that the sound is among the 28 bodies designated as significant under the EPA National Estuary Program.

According to the agency, the sound was once home to some of the most productive shellfish beds in the nation, but many have now closed due to pathogen, low dissolved oxygen, and excessive nutrient contamination. A no-discharge zone in the sound would add to New York's statewide strategy to eliminate sewage discharged from boats into any state waterway. In May 2010, the Erie Canal system was the latest zone to be designated of more than a dozen in the state.
Comments on the proposal are due by May 10, 2011.

April 20, 2011

New York City Announces Plan to Power Cruise Ships With Electricity While in Port

On April 13, 2011, New York City announced a $15 million green port infrastructure project that will allow ships docked at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York City to be able to connect to shore-based electrical power instead of burning diesel fuel while in port. According to the city, the shore power facility will be built with more than $12 million in funding from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a $2.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from EPA.

Pursuant to a five-year agreement between the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the city, and the New York Power Authority, Princess Cruises and the Cunard Line will spend up to $4 million to retrofit ships that dock at the terminal, and power will be provided at a discounted rate estimated to save some $2 million per year. According to the city, construction of the onshore infrastructure, which will handle about 40 ship calls a year, will begin in mid-2011 and is expected to be completed in 2012.

April 25, 2011

No. 4 and No. 6 Heating Oil to be Phased Out in New York City

On April 21, 2011, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the use of No. 4 and No. 6 heavy heating oils will be phased out by the city as part of a Clean Heat Campaign. According to the city, the two heating oil grades, known as residual oil, are the dirtiest available to burn in building boilers.

Under final regulations that were issued the same day, No. 6 heating oil will be phased out by 2015 and No. 4 heating oil will be phased out by 2030. According to the city, the Clean Heat Campaign will accelerate conversion to cleaner fuels, such as natural gas or low-sulfur No. 2 oil, through incentives, streamlined permitting, education, and collective actions with utilities, the Environmental Defense Fund, and real estate groups.

A May 2010 New York City Health Department survey found that the greatest concentrations of particulate matter and other air pollutants occurred in neighborhoods where a large percentage of buildings burn No. 4 and No. 6 heating oil. A continuing air quality survey by the Department has identified high-sulfur heating oil emissions and emissions from vehicle traffic as the major sources of air pollution in the city).

April 28, 2011

Energy Companies Agree to Pay $2 Million to Settle Deceptive Marketing Claims

On April 20, 2011, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that two related companies that sell electricity and natural gas to consumers through telemarketing and door-to-door sales will pay more than $2 million to settle claims of deceptive marketing.

Columbia Utilities LLC and Columbia Utilities Power LLC allegedly made unfounded claims about how much consumers would save with them compared to local utilities, but failed to clearly disclose that their contracts were for a 12-month term that could not be canceled earlier. According to the Attorney General, Columbia Utilities sells natural gas and Columbia Utilities Power sells retail electricity, but they are essentially the same company.

The companies allegedly told potential residential and business customers that they would see substantial savings by signing up with the companies for electricity or natural gas, but the contracts contained variable-price clauses that allowed the companies to change the price at any time. As a result, customers generally ended up paying much more than if they would have stayed with their local utility.

As part of the settlement, the companies are prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims about future savings or represent itself as affiliated with a local utility, and it must allow current customers with one-year contracts to cancel the agreements and issue future contracts on a month-to-month basis.

About April 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Envirosphere in April 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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