By Yvette Brown
The City Council passed a bill on Sept. 17, sponsored by Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and Mayor Bill de Blasio, aimed at conserving energy throughout the city.
The bill mandates that all stores keep their doors closed while the air conditioning is running. This will limit power demands during the peak periods of the summer, and it will also help decrease pollution.
“Shutting the front doors of businesses so that air-conditioning doesn’t escape can help reduce carbon emissions by thousands of tons,” said Constantinides. “There is no evidence that shows leaving doors open during hot days helps business owners increase sales. In fact, this practice of saving power will see business owners reap real savings in their energy bills. This commonsense policy will help us reach our goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. It will take the cooperation of everyone to make our city greener and save energy.”
The bill is an expansion of a 2008 law, Local Law 38, sponsored by then-Council member and now Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Under that law, all chain stores and commercial establishments over 4,000 square feet were mandated to keep their doors closed while air conditioners are operating.
“We passed Local Law 38 to protect both our environment and everyone who has to pay an electric bill,” said Brewer. “Over the course of this summer, too many stores were still blasting cold air into the streets, and it became clear increased enforcement and a broader law were necessary.”
The new bill removes the exemption for stores and other establishments under 4,000 square feet and raises the penalty for repeat offenders. Any sidewalk cafe or sidewalk business that leaves their doors open are exempt from this bill.
With this bill, 10,000 businesses would be affected and this would result in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 22,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to removing close to 3,600 cars from the road, according to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.
Leaving the doors or windows open while the air conditioner is running can increase electricity by 25 percent.
“Throughout New York City, many businesses open their doors during the hot summer months to lure customers inside with cool air,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin. “This practice should never be seen as a cost of doing business, but a harmful cost to our city’s environment and a waste of money for the business. This is why, over the past summer, DCA increased enforcement and outreach to educate businesses about the environmental and financial impacts.
The bill would impact the city’s power grid, where most of the city’s plants are over 40 years old and have been equipped with technology that has a lower efficiency and larger air emissions impact than the more modern plants. More than half of the city’s power is generated from plants in Astoria and Long Island City.
“Cooling the outdoors on a hot muggy day by leaving doors open makes no sense. By requiring businesses to close their doors, this bill also closes a loophole, and in doing so will improve air quality while bringing down greenhouse gas emissions,” said Nilda Mesa, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “This bill marks yet another step forward as we implement Mayor de Blasio’s sweeping sustainability plan, including an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.”
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext.128, email@example.com or @eveywrites.