a) It is actually illegal under the Multiple Dwelling Law for more than 3 unrelated people to share a housing unit.
b) Multiple Dwelling Law, the Zoning Resolution and real estate tax exempt programs set out minimum floor areas per unit, which make it extremely difficult to design and build compact, flexible units.
ConEd does not allow excess energy created by sustainable energy technologies to be fed back into the grid. This discourages the creation of onsite power generation from fuel cells, micro-turbines or co-generation – which uses exhaust heat from electricity for space heating or cooling.
The Building Code only permits shading devices on a residential window to project 9 inches. To be energy efficient, shading devices need to project at least 2ft 6 inches, and more if the window is larger. The only way to permit shades of this size is to follow a complex process to apply to obtain revocable consent from DOT.
If a boiler room is placed on the roof of a building it allows for easy ventilation and combustion air supply which is extremely important for the boiler to be energy efficient (and safe). If it is placed in the cellar a boiler system will require electrically-powered ventilation. However, boilers rooms are not classed as ‘permitted obstructions’ on roofs according to The Zoning Resolution, therefore must be included in the building’s Floor Area Ratio. This does not encourage this feature in NYC’s new construction.
Current parking requirements are governed by zoning districts therefore new residential developments are often required to create unnecessary parking even if they are situated right next to subway or rail stations. Providing shared parking areas also does not satisfy parking requirements in these zoning districts.
Green roofs have been shown to reduce heat loss and energy consumption in the winter and keep a building cool in the summer and can naturally reduce storm-water run off and filter pollutants from rainwater. However, green roofs do not count towards open space requirements in the Zoning Resolution, therefore, making it more costly to include in development projects.
In order for a developer to provide a bicycle room in a commercial building – which would then grant it a certification point within the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System – a shower would also need to be provided, for the logical reason that people often want to change and shower after riding their bike to work. The Department of Buildings does not permit showers in commercial or manufacturing buildings.
Drywells are not generally permitted by the Department of Environmental Protection, even when the soil would be ideal. The alternative is to detain the water and pump it to the city stormwater sewer. The tank and pumping system are very large and also require an emergency generator.
Photo voltaic panels are not a ‘permitted obstruction’ as defined in the Zoning Resolution. This makes it incredibly difficult to fit PV on any roof given FAR restrictions. It also severely limits the location of the panels.
In a historic district designated by the Landmarks Preservation Committee, the ‘historical character’ of the building and/or the historic district is the most important assessment of a new window type. It is extremely difficult to find a compromise between the most energy-efficient windows, the requirements of the Landmarks Commission, and the cost of the windows.
CHPC is encouraging progress in NYC green housing. More can be done to increase the sustainability of our city and our housing stock, but it is indeed getting easier and more cost-effective to be green!