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Cityscape: Volume 23 Number 2 | The Rental Assistance Demonstration | The Hispanic Housing Experience in the United States


Double Issue: The Rental Assistance Demonstration | The Hispanic Housing Experience in the United States

Volume 23 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

A Path to 80 x 50 for Public Housing Authorities

Tom Sahagian
Rory Christian
Concentric Consulting Group

Many cities now mandate large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in residential buildings, including public housing. The authors summarize the recently released plan of the New York City Housing Authority to achieve these reductions.

States, cities, and counties have all advanced the drive to reduce emissions over many years. As of today, more than 30 states have economy-wide emissions reduction targets in place, according to Clifton et al. (2020). Billimoria et. al. (2018) and Steinberg et. al. (2017) point out that these goals, established either through legislation or executive order, typically call for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) 80 percent by 2050 (80 x 50) when compared with a prior benchmark (for example, 2005 levels). In parallel with this, Trumbull et al. (2019) identified 12 states; Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; and more than 200 cities and counties that have established goals to generate 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050—with some aiming for as early as 2032.

This patchwork of policies is largely a reaction to the absence of a unifying federal policy for reducing emissions. Should the federal government establish a national policy, the efforts to reduce emissions are likely to accelerate. Residential and commercial buildings account for 38 percent of all energy used in the United States and are responsible for 10 percent of GHG emissions. Increased efficiency and electrification—addressed through mandates and better building codes—can significantly reduce the building sector’s contribution to climate change. With the trend toward decarbonization firmly established across much of the country, many buildings may soon be required to make significant reductions in energy use and emissions that will be achievable only by a transition away from fossil fuels.

New York City is uniquely affected by state and city policies to reduce GHG emissions and to meet building-specific emission reduction targets. These policies require building owners to look beyond traditional energy-efficiency measures. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) recently released a detailed plan for meeting the 80 x 50 requirements with readily available technology (NYCHA, 2020). This article summarizes the NYCHA plan and includes general recommendations that other public housing authorities (PHAs) can adopt to reduce their GHG emissions significantly.

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