Hudson Heights Weather

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dirty Air: Boilers to Blame

Outdated heating systems in residential buildings in New York City are responsible for a large share of the citys' air pollution, including particulate matter that can aggravate asthma conditions.  Here is a letter from Borough President Scott Stringer, which refers to his recent report on the subject.  As the diagram below shows, nothern Manhattan has a concentration of these facilities.

I wanted to share with you an important new report my office has just released, “Tenants and Toxins: Converting Dirty Boilers in New York City’s Affordable Housing Stock.”
Of all the environmental problems facing New York City, few are as damaging to our public health as the 8,900 buildings that burn #4 or #6 heating oil throughout the city.  Although these “dirty boilers” represent just 1 percent of our building stock, they account for a whopping 86 percent of the city’s soot pollution.  To put that in context, the Environmental Defense Fund estimates that burning #4 and #6 heating oil produces fifty percent more air pollution than all of the cars and trucks in New York City.

This is a problem that must be fixed.  But until now not enough attention has been focused on the unique financial challenges that replacing these boilers will pose for many buildings – especially those with rent regulated units, a vital source of affordable housing in our city.

As many of you know, rent regulated buildings face severe limitations when it comes to paying for capital improvements like boiler conversions.  What
my study found is less known: Roughly two-thirds of all dirty boilers in the city are located in rent regulated buildings, where they pose both environmental and financial risks to the tenants who live there.  The numbers are highest in Manhattan, where more than 2,200 rent regulated buildings spew this toxic soot.

We need policies that recognize these financial realities and speed the day when all of these dirty boilers – many of which are not mandated to be replaced until 2030 under the City’s current plan – can be shut down for good.  We need to provide rent regulated buildings with access to the cheap capital they need NOW, not 20 years from now.  And we need to do it in a way that protects tenants from having to carry the burden of more major capital improvements.

Over the long haul, the recommendations in
my report will save buildings from spending money they don’t have, and save tenants from painful rent increases.  More importantly, they will save lives.

To learn more, read coverage in the
New York Times, Crain’s or view coverage on NY 1 about our report.

I hope you have a chance to examine
our findings, and please don’t hesitate to call my office if you have other ideas for improving our great city.


Scott M. Stringer,
Manhattan Borough President

1 comment:

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