In case you missed it, New York City recently announced a new law that mandates carbon emission limits for approximately 50,000 of the city’s buildings, in an effort to achieve its aggressive 80% carbon reduction plan by 2050. Failure to comply by 2024 will result in annual fines for every metric ton of carbon dioxide over the prescribed limit. It is considered the most ambitious law in the world for a large city and could cost building owners hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars in fines.

California has also proposed that all new homes be energy neutral by 2025.

If you recall, a few years back I talked about the importance of local and regional government taking on energy efficiency issues to reduce the reliance on federal agencies and Congress to create incentives and drive the market. And it seems that’s exactly what’s happening. Not only are we seeing new initiatives at the regional, state and local levels, but they appear to be even more aggressive than even I expected.

What’s this mean for us?

By its last estimate, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) said there are approximately one billion single-glazed windows in use today—and many are in high-rise residential and commercial buildings. Once upon a time, it might have been a difficult sell to justify the cost of replacing old windows with newer energy-efficient versions. But with these new carbon emission limits and penalties for noncompliance, replacement could now seem like a more appealing option.

The View from Here is that direct (energy savings) and indirect positive impacts of making energy-efficient upgrades—such as increased rent premiums, occupant satisfaction and lease renewal rates—are still important drivers when making the case for replacement windows in large buildings. But reducing carbon emissions to avoid costly fines might just be the final straw that will inspire action.

Read more about our industry’s reaction to New York City’s aggressive new plan on USGNN.

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