The Real Estate Board of New York to REBNY Testimony to The Committee on Environmental Protection of the New York City Council Regarding a Study of the Feasibility to Build Commercial Buildings Solar Ready

Ryan Monell

Vice President of Government Affairs

February 2, 2023

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REBNY thanks Chair Gennaro and the members of the Committee for this opportunity to submit testimony on Int 603-2022, which requires the City to create a feasibility study looking at the possibility of constructing commercial buildings as solar-ready.

BILL: Intro 603-2022

SUBJECT: This bill would require DOB to work with several other City agencies to develop a study on the feasibility of building commercial buildings so that they are ready to install solar electricity generation equipment in the future (i.e., be solar-ready). The City would have one year to complete the study. The study would look at the utility of having commercial buildings be solar-ready, barriers to doing so, which commercial building types and occupancies are most suited to being solar-ready, and costs associated with building solar-ready buildings. The report that results from the study would be submitted to the Mayor and the Speaker of the City Council 12 months after this bill becomes law.

SPONSORS: Abreu, Brewer, Restler, Nurse, Gutiérrez, and Sanchez (by request of the Manhattan Borough President)

REBNY supports the intent of this bill, which wisely starts with a feasibility study to investigate a very complicated issue, as the commercial building stock in New York City is diverse in building sizes, configurations, and uses, and so will pose a myriad of technical and cost problems related to construction as solar-ready. Therefore, understanding those issues in a thorough and careful manner is a critical first step.

While we agree that the study should be undertaken by a range of City agencies, as the bill calls for, we also think that there should be a robust stakeholder element to this effort. In particular, a stakeholder advisory board should be established that has the expertise and experience to properly assist the City in developing this report. As things stand now, there are many important resources competing for the very little unused space on commercial building rooftops, such as mechanical systems, heat pumps, batteries for storage, and already mandated solar and or green roofs. In addition, the FDNY has strict regulations to allow access to all parts of a rooftop, further restricting other uses. Building owners would be a vital resource for issues such as this. REBNY would be willing and able to assist the City in determining who should be on the Advisory Board.

REBNY thanks you once again for allowing us to submit testimony on this bill today.

Topics Covered

  • Commercial
  • Business
  • Sustainability