Get Those Glass Towers Green, NYC Tells Trump

Federal prosecutors entered this photo of Trump World Tower into evidence during the fall 2018 trial of Hong Kong businessman Chi Ping Patrick Ho, who led a think tank affiliated with CEFC China Energy. The Chinese energy giant once owned unit 78B of the building through a subsidiary. (Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York)

MANHATTAN (CN) – Before becoming president, Donald Trump created his international real estate brand on large towers made from mirrored glass. On Monday he received a warning to quickly make those skyscrapers energy efficient or face up to $2.1 million a year in fines.

Mayor Bill De Blasio made the announcement this morning with New York City’s Green New Deal set to take effect on May 17. The Democratic mayor and rumored hopeful candidate for the 2020 election season said that at least eight of Trump’s buildings do not meet the 2030 emissions goals under the law.

“President Trump – you’re on notice,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Your polluting buildings are part of the problem. Cut your emissions or pay the price.”

When the mayor first unveiled his so-called ban on glass and steel skyscrapers last month, he highlighted the American Copper Buildings in Manhattan’s Murray Hill and some Cornell Tech buildings Roosevelt Island as examples of how triple glazing or high-tech heating and cooling systems can make glass-wrapped structures energy efficient.

De Blasio’s office estimates that Trump’s buildings produce roughly 27,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases into the air, the equivalent of 5,800 cars. The most recently collected data by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability shows that several of Trump’s building receive low marks on a 100-point scale of Energy Star, an efficiency program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump International Hotel & Tower, the 52-story skyscraper looming over Columbus Circle at 1 Central Park West, scored a 12-point rating in 2016, and it faces up to a $850,871 per year penalty if it fails to perform improvements.  

On the Upper East Side, the 32-story Trump Park Avenue scored nearly rock bottom that year with a 7-point rating. If it fails to lighten its carbon footprint, the property will rack up $126,316 per year in fines.

Among the city’s worst offenders, however, is the president’s flagship building on Fifth Avenue. City data shows that Trump Towers alone spewed 76.8 metric tons of direct greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, plus 5,703 tons of indirect emissions. Its Energy Star rating dipped under the median at 44 points.

“Trump Tower uses more energy per square foot than 90 percent of large buildings in New York City, making it one of the most wasteful and polluting buildings in the city,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of a nonprofit called ALIGN, short for the Alliance for a Greater New York.

The Trump Organization’s attorney Alan Futerfas has not responded to an email seeking comment, but the president himself has previously spurned the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change, dismissing global warming as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to undermine U.S. business.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, who is also fighting the Trump administration over the Russia investigation, noted that the reality of climate change has battered his constituents in Manhattan.

“We unfortunately see the effects of climate change right here in New York City, and we must do everything we can to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” Nadler said in a statement.

Hurricane Sandy killed 44 New Yorkers and caused an estimated $19 billion in damage, including through flooding in coastal neighborhoods Nadler represents, such as Battery Park, Coney Island and Bay Ridge.

“Unfortunately, we have a president along with a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate who are not taking this threat seriously, so while I will continue to fight for the Green New Deal in Washington, I am equally honored to support Mayor de Blasio’s legislation that requires New York City’s largest buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and at least 80 percent by 2050,” Nadler said.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker whose political rise pushed the words “Green New Deal” into the national agenda, praised the Big Apple analogue.

“Solving our current climate crisis will require leadership and bold ideas,” the congresswoman said. “New York City is providing both with its Green New Deal.”

Trump has said he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate deal, but he is not empowered to do so until after the November 2020 presidential elections.

%d bloggers like this: