New Whitepaper and Task Force to Unlock Financing for Building Decarbonization in New York City

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New York City– Today, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB), NYU Stern Chao-Hon Institute for Global Real Estate Finance (Chen Institute), and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced the creation of a taskforce to stimulate sustainable financial solutions for the decarbonization of New York City’s built environment. The taskforce includes representatives from more than a dozen institutional lenders and property owners, government agencies, and industry associations.


Local Law 97, which requires most buildings over 25,000 gross square feet to reduce their carbon emissions starting in 2024, encompasses over 27,000 properties that need to embark on retrofitting and decarbonization efforts immediately to avoid financial penalties. Recognizing the potential of banks and mortgage lenders in catalyzing this transformation, NYCEDC, NYU Stern CSB, and NYU Stern Chen Institute have assembled a coalition of public and private finance leaders, real estate operators, and green financing specialists, to create an ambitious and practical finance roadmap to compliance.


The dedicated taskforce that will work over the next five months to address market and regulatory challenges related to capital deployment for building decarbonization projects, and engage with policymakers and other advisory groups to finance energy retrofits. Goals include identifying major lenders with high carbon emissions in their mortgage portfolios and exposure to LL97 fines; analyzing how building owners currently navigate financing decarbonization improvements; assessing existing green finance products and identifying areas for innovation; examining examples of green financing in other jurisdictions and assessing applicability in New York City; and exploring how mortgage lenders can be supported by federal initiatives, as well as State and City leadership.


This innovative approach recognizes that mortgage lenders hold a pivotal role in driving building decarbonization by creating a clear value proposition, aligning lending products, catalyzing new financial tools, and offering technical assistance to borrowers. The taskforce will convene monthly with a final report shared in early 2024.


The taskforce will be led by: Sam Chandan (NYU Stern) and Gregg Gerken (TD Bank - former)


Participation from key stakeholders includes: Jamie Horton and Brinda Ganguly (NYCEDC), Elizabeth Kelly, Luis Aguirre-Torres, and John Joshi (NYSERDA), Joe Chavez and Katie Schmid (NYC MOCEJ), Jamie Woodwell (Mortgage Bankers Association), Sadie McKeown (Community Preservation Corporation), Jessica Bailey (Nuveen Green Capital), Curtis Probst (NYCEEC), Christina Chiu (Empire State Realty Trust), Zach Steinberg (REBNY), Andrew Chintz (NYC Accelerator), Luba Kim Reynolds (Freddie Mac), William Buettin and Kelly Souza (Wells Fargo), Brent Weitzberg (NY Bankers Association), Jonathan Flaherty (Tishman Speyer), Ana Traverso-Krejcarek, Sheelah Feinberg, and Shaun Hoyte (Con Edison), Karyn Sper (Fannie Mae), and Andrea Wagonseller (M&T Bank). The Community Development team of the NY Federal Reserve Bank will be participating as an observer of the task force.


In the coming weeks, we will be adding more representatives from bankers and lenders.


Extensive research conducted by NYU Stern CSB and the subsequent whitepaper "Green Finance Innovation: How Mortgage Lenders Can Drive NYC Building Decarbonization" illuminated the need for collective action among key stakeholders and prompted the creation of this body. The taskforce will be aided by the Decarbonization Compass, a NYU Stern CSB data tool developed to support the City’s decarbonization efforts and assist lenders and property owners. The free data tool identifies the mortgage holders of LL97 covered buildings, allowing a user to see the top individual and aggregate carbon emissions in a lender's portfolio.  It also allows building owners and renters to see their total emissions, their energy rating and the fines they may be subject to based on their emissions. NYU Stern CSB’s forthcoming white paper on the role of mortgage bankers in building decarbonization informs the work of this task force.


“With such prevalent influence over the economics and condition of our housing stock, the lending industry has a responsibility, alongside all other stakeholders, to help drive the adoption of sustainable financial solutions aimed at decarbonizing the built environment,” said Sadie McKeown, President, The Community Preservation Corporation. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on the taskforce to examine the challenges and opportunities that exist so that we can demystify the processes and demonstrate the financial and social benefits of helping our city reach its decarbonization goals.”


"Building decarbonization plays a critical role in New York City’s green transition and will fuel sustainable economic development and help foster thousands of good-paying jobs for New Yorkers,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President & CEO, Andrew Kimball. “We are grateful to our partners at NYU, MOCEJ, and the numerous lenders, building owners, and policymakers who are joining us in this taskforce to drive solutions that will help make financing available for critical green retrofits throughout the five boroughs.”


“For buildings to mobilize under Local Law 97 and avoid penalties, it will take a $12-$15 billion investment,” said Rohit T. Aggarwala, New York City Chief Climate Officer and commissioner, Department of Environmental Protection. “That’s why the appropriate tools are needed to finance the work. This City-financial sector partnership will leverage unprecedented federal funds for sustainability, helping the City and state meet their ambitious, world-leading climate goals.”
“To get Local Law 97 done, we need to bring all building stakeholders across the finish line, and this public-private partnership engages the mortgage industry in collective solutions,” said Elijah Hutchinson, executive director, Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice. “We know that buildings in disadvantaged communities need additional support to achieve compliance – and this taskforce will help identify gaps and spur the innovation we need to build that support.”


“Decarbonizing buildings in New York is critical to achieving the ambitious climate goals set out by NYC. Nuveen Green Capital is excited to be among the lenders working with our public sector partners to determine pathways to accelerate this transition,” said Nuveen Green Capital President and CEO Jessica Bailey.

"NYU Stern is excited to join NYC EDC and launch this task force with support from our Decarbonization Compass, bringing together committed leaders from real estate and finance to help decarbonize the buildings of NYC," said Marianna Koval, Director, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and Sam Chandan, Founding Director & Professor, NYU Stern Chen Institute for Global Real Estate Finance.


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