Landlords must phase out the use of the heavily polluting heating oil No. 4 in their buildings' boilers by 2027, under a bill approved in a City Council vote Thursday.
The legislation, sponsored by City Council member James Gennaro, who represents Queens, would expedite the city’s timeline to ban the noxious heating oil from municipally owned buildings by July 2025. It would require landlords to phase out the fuel in all other buildings across the city by July 2027. City officials would be prohibited from issuing or renewing building permits for the fuel as of June 30, 2024.
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has signaled support for signing the bill into law; late last year the mayor announced an initiative that by 2026 would ban the fuel, which releases planet-warming greenhouse gasses and dangerous heavy metals into the air, from city schools.
Gennaro’s bill would speed that process by a year, and it would move five years faster than a previous 2030 ban on the fuel oil approved in 2011. Property owners found in violation would face up to $10,000 in fines.
Lower-income communities that are disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards would reap the benefits of the legislation, with more than half of the 3,366 buildings that use fuel oil No. 4 in such neighborhoods, particularly in parts of the Bronx and uptown Manhattan. More than 200 city schools still burn the combustible—making up 25% of the buildings that burn fuel oil No. 4.
Department of Environmental Protection staff estimate that 1,800 buildings would have to upgrade their boilers to accommodate the switch to cleaner fuels. Those upgrades are estimated to save the city $130 million in health spending per year. The bill does not provide financial support to property owners converting their equipment, but landlords have free access to sustainability experts to make the change through the NYC Accelerator program. Depending on a building's equipment, a fuel oil switch may require a boiler upgrade. Recognizing that purchasing new heating equipment may be onerous for certain landlords, the bill includes a hardship clause that would allow property owners to apply to the Department of Buildings for a temporary extension to comply with the law. You can read more here.
It will be interesting to see how buildings handle these extra fees, we do expect assessments coming down the pike. We will keep you updated on all things NYC as always!