Press Releases

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2023

Casey Berkovitz, Joe Marvilli – (212) 720-3471

What They’re Saying: Experts and Impacted Communities Support City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality Initiative

City agencies, climate advocates, architects, clean energy companies, and more speak in support of initiative to modernize NYC’s zoning for environmental goals

NEW YORK – The City Planning Commission today held a public hearing on City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality, the first of Mayor Adams’ three “City of Yes” zoning proposals. City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality is a citywide zoning amendment that would modernize the city’s Zoning Resolution to facilitate climate action, clean energy, and resiliency by removing barriers to greener energy, buildings, transportation, and water and waste systems.

The public hearing comes following three months of formal public review by New York City’s community boards, borough boards, and borough presidents, including four recommendations in favor from borough presidents and over two dozen from community boards. Following the hearing, the City Planning Commission will vote on the initiative; if it passes, the initiative will go to the City Council for a hearing and a vote.

“The world is facing a climate emergency, driven home recently by Canadian wildfires and record-breaking heat waves happening around the globe. We need to create a more energy-efficient society with greatly reduced carbon emissions – but our 1961 zoning regulations are standing in the way. We are going to fix that with our City of Yes proposal,” said Dan Garodnick, Chair of the City Planning Commission and Director of the Department of City Planning. “This proposal meets the moment and is necessary for the climate crisis we are in.”

“City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality is a key component of this administration’s effort to make it easier for buildings to reduce carbon emissions and cope with climate change. It is a thoughtful, balanced, and comprehensive set of amendments,” said Rohit Aggarwala, Chief Climate Officer of New York City and Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.

“City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality will help to promote renewable energy infrastructure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing building retrofitting, creating options for additional solar panels and EV charging stations, allowing for wind energy, and promoting additional energy storage systems, just to name a few,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson. “We are a borough of opportunities and we pride ourselves on looking at creative and innovative approaches that will invest in green energy, renewable energy, and green jobs, because we know that is the future.”

“Con Edison is supportive of the proposed zoning amendments, which remove obstacles to the integration of solar, energy storage, and electric vehicle infrastructure. The proposed zoning changes align with the ambitious climate goals of the city and state,” said Gregory Elcock, VP of Customer Clean Energy Programs at Con Edison. “Such changes will enable Con Edison to bring carbon-reducing solutions to New Yorkers faster.”

“The city’s zoning regulations can be a barrier to making the necessary green investments that are crucial to fight climate change and reduce toxic air pollution. NYLCV believes that this proposal will help us meet our city and state’s emissions reduction goals, move away from fossil fuels, and ultimately improve the city’s air quality, a longstanding environmental justice issue,” said Alia Soomro, Deputy Director for New York City Policy at the New York League of Conservation Voters. “Approving this proposal will not only accelerate the transition to a carbon neutral future, but promote a healthier and more sustainable New York City.”

“We need City of Yes to remove outdated barriers in our zoning code so that we can meet our city and our state climate and renewable energy goals. These changes will help decarbonize our buildings, and are even more critical for residents who are living in our city’s environmental justice neighborhoods that face a disproportionate burden of the harms from climate extremes,” said Danielle Manley, Manager of Policy at Urban Green Council. “We congratulate the DCP, CPC, and many other agencies and practitioners across the city for their dedicated hard work to deliver this proposal, and encourage the CPC to vote yes to approve these amendments so we can keep up our momentum for meeting this climate moment.”

“We appreciate the city’s leadership and desire to amend zoning to accelerate decarbonization and urge the city to implement the City of Yes proposal swiftly. The zoning amendment will catalyze New York City’s progress toward its ambitious climate goals by encouraging the dual use of underutilized spaces, supporting thousands of additional solar and energy storage jobs, and helping New York City buildings to comply with Local Law 97 and reduce their electricity bills. All of these benefits will contribute to the long-term public health of the residents of America’s largest and most diverse city,” said Shelby Kislowski, Advocacy Coordinator at the New York Solar Energy Industries Association.

“This proposal aligns the essential public policy goals of environmental sustainability and sustaining investment in our buildings, transportation, and energy systems. CHPC has long advocated for zoning and regulatory reform to promote necessary investments in all segments of our housing stock, and to clear bureaucratic barriers to meeting the needs of New Yorkers. We believe zoning needs to make it easier to do the right thing for a carbon neutral future, and this proposal does just that,” said Sarah Watson, Deputy Director at the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. “The City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality text amendment is exactly the type of zoning reform that the city needs.”

“City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality is a vital step to fight climate change across the five boroughs,” said James Lloyd, Director of Policy at the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH). “By enabling exterior insulation panels and increased solar roof coverage, it can reduce operating costs for affordable housing.”

“City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality is critical in order to unlock the physical space in and around New York City’s buildings to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, combat the climate crisis, and make solar accessible to all new Yorkers,” said Stephen Levin, Chief Executive Officer of Solar One.

“As advocates for the development of renewable and sustainable energy resources, we fully support the City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality proposed citywide text amendment. This text amendment will not only remove outdated zoning that hinders decarbonization projects, but will also reinforce New York’s commitment to expanding equitable housing opportunities. This important text amendment will help solidify this city’s commitment to meeting ambitious renewable energy goals and greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Nicole Campo, Technical Director, Land Use Planning at Matrix New World Engineering.

City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality is the first of three “City of Yes” initiatives to update New York’s zoning for a more inclusive and equitable city. The other two proposals are:

  • City of Yes for Economic Opportunity, which would support New York’s economic recovery by allowing more types of businesses to locate in more places, support growing industries, and foster vibrant neighborhoods. The Department of City Planning has held two public info sessions on City of Yes for Economic Opportunity and will formally refer it for public review this fall.
  • City of Yes for Housing Opportunity, an inclusive, citywide approach to our City’s housing crisis that would expand and diversify the housing supply, and ensure that every neighborhood contributes to New York City’s growth and provide equitable access to housing for all New Yorkers. It will enter public review in early 2024.

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.

In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.