New York City's Dirty 10,000 Get Paid To Clean Up New York City's Dirty 10,000 Get Paid To Clean Up

New York City's Dirty 10,000 Get Paid To Clean Up

by Alex Goldmark

June 15, 2012

In America's largest city, buildings pollute more than cars. It's not a matter of numbers though, it's a matter of clean fuel, or the lack of it.

Switching is no easy task though, and due to where these boilers are in low-income buildings it would mean rent increases to be passed on to tenants if a landlord had to pony up the coin to swap out the old clunker. Conversions can cost up to $50,000 and the cleaner fuel, though more efficient, can cost about 10-30 percent more. Many of the 10,000 building owners say they can't afford it. 

To overcome those financial barriers for landlords and make this a more carrot than stick solution, the City government put up $5 million to motivate banks like Chase, Deutsche Bank and Citi to offer up big financing. City money goes to a loss-reserve fund so banks take on less risk lending over $90 million to property owners. The result is an "affordable market rate" loan fund for landlord to do the right thing, and a city initiative with support of nonprofit groups like the EDF to help on the implementation. Carrot, carrot and then the stick of a looming ban on Number 6 oil coming in 2015, and Number 4 in 2030. 

EDF hailed the NYC Clean Heat plan as an "innovative collaboration between New York City, the environmental community, leading banks, the real estate community and energy providers."

Think of it as the building-sized equivalent of phasing out incandescent lightbulbs. Except here, it will only affect a few hyper-polluters in the pocket book while helping everyone's lungs citywide. And the hyper-polluters get help in the pocketbook to make doing the right thing a little easier.

Photos via Environmental Defense Fund

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New York City's Dirty 10,000 Get Paid To Clean Up