New York sustainability: Urban sustainability that supports the green business
For the purpose-driven business operating within the New York district, this Green Business Bureau article looks at the New York sustainability agenda to detail the developments this city is championing to achieve urban sustainability. We then list the financial support your business can receive from operating in the New York district, to help you create sustainable business operations.
Home to over 8 million people, New York stands as the largest city in the United States making the megalopolis an excellent test hub and incubator for new, innovative green solutions. As such, New York supports the green business through green financing, grants, and tax credits. From this article, you’ll learn what green financing applies to your business.
New York sustainability exemplifies what it means to be a sustainable city
The IESE Cities in Motion Index used 10 key dimensions to rank cities as sustainable, which include governance, public management, urban planning, technology, the environment, international outreach, social cohesion, human capital, and the economy.
The results are in!
The IESE ranked New York as the third most sustainable city in the world.
We wanted to give you a snapshot of New York sustainability, and with this in mind, we’ve detailed notable sustainable developments this city is making below.
Urban sustainability in action: New York runs an extensive public transport system
Despite New York’s immense size, the city boasts the lowest emissions per capita among large cities, with each New York household emitting an annual average of ~5.38 metric tons of C02e. A significant factor explaining New York’s low carbon footprint is the city’s widespread use of public transport (an impressive 31% of residents commute using public services).
Urban sustainability in action: New York’s effective urban greening program
New York City is working hard to break down the concrete barrier that separates citizens from our natural world. For instance, 27% of city space is dedicated to parks and other forms of greenery. E.g.~22% of the city is covered by tree canopy. This figure increased by ~2% in recent years, which can be attributed to the one million tree planting program launched in 2007. Most trees were planted in the streets, squares, and parks, to increase the area of natural forestry. New York’s Green Streets program was also set up to convert paved roadways into green areas filled with trees, shrubs, and ground cover. Since the program’s launch, there are currently 2,388 sites citywide. The program was launched to beautify the city landscape, ease vehicle traffic, improve pedestrian traffic, facilitate the water-bearing capacity of the ground, and increase biodiversity.
Thinking more about New York’s urban greening initiatives, the city introduced the Green Roof Property Tax Abatement program (to be discussed in more detail later in this article). The aim was to encourage the installation of green roof and wall infrastructure. With this in mind, the Ecology and Society published the first comprehensive dataset of green roof distribution. This dataset mapped the density of green roof and wall infrastructure across New York City in 2016. The paper reported green roofs cover less than 0.1% of New York City’s 1 billion buildings – this is despite the significant benefits the technology brings (urban cooling, flood defense, and biodiversity support). However, this application gap does mean there’s much room for growth and improvement in the sector which the Green Roof Property Tax Abatement seeks to push.
Urban sustainability in action: New York’s energy efficiency measures
According to a 2020 ACEE Scorecard, New York is ranked as one of the most energy-efficient cities in the U.S. (followed by Boston and Seattle). The city’s progressive adoption of renewable energy technology contributes to this achievement. For instance, in 2019 the state passed a new law named the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which raised the 2030 target from 50% of electricity generated by renewables to 70%. A new goal was also introduced that aimed to reach net zero emissions in the electricity sectors by 2040. Keeping this goal in sight, in 2021 renewable energy resources provided 30% of the city’s electricity generation. Most of this renewable energy was obtained from New York’s hydroelectric plants, with wind, solar, and biomass also contributing to the state’s net energy generation.
New York sustainability summarized: New York’s extensive public transport system, the city’s huge network of public parks, and its low per-capita footprint showcase the city’s dedication to making a green transition. New York houses a large population of educated and diversely talented individuals who value sustainable development. And it’s with this that we view New York as an ideal place to operate as a green business.
New York City supports green business enterprises, green tech startups, and ethical entrepreneurs, and as such, there are several tax credits, green financing, and grants available for purpose-driven leaders. In the next section of this article, we explore the different types of business support provided by New York City at the local level.
What tax credits, grants, and green funding are available for businesses operating within New York City?
To support a sustainable business transition, New York City offers tax credits, grants, and green funding incentives. In the next section of this Green Business Bureau article, we take a look at these incentives in more detail.
Business Council of Westchester (CW BCM)
The Business Council of Westchester(CW BCM) has partnered with the Green Business Bureau (GBB), a trusted authority in green business, to help CW BCM members achieve their business sustainability goals and get the recognition they deserve.
GBB’s online sustainability framework and customized tools enable users to understand, prioritize, and implement green initiatives, while also measuring and validating their results. The Green Business Bureau seal is used to credibly promote sustainability accomplishments while also inspiring others to get started.
The CW BCM program offers a 20% discount towards green business certification, providing the financial support for sustainable development in business, and helping organizations get certified for their efforts.
Con Edison Commerical and Industrial Energy Efficiency (CIEE) program
The Con Edison Commerical and Industrial Energy Efficiency (CIEE) program offers cash rebates and incentives for energy efficiency projects – such as installing energy-efficient equipment and technologies. There are two programs a business might be eligible for. The Equipment Rebate Program and the Custom Program. The first provides cash rebates for the installation of energy-efficient equipment, and the latter provides custom incentives for cost-effective projects and measures, and energy efficiency technologies. Only Con Edison gas and electric customers are eligible for CIEE programs.
The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP21)
The NYS Pollution Prevention Institute promotes cost-effective methods to conserve energy, reduce waste, and improve business performance. The NYSP21 program can help your business incorporate sustainability into everyday practices, improve business sustainability, and reduce an entity’s carbon footprint. The NYSP21 offers online assistance for process evaluation, audits and improvements, pollution prevention strategies, staff training, and customized programs to directly benefit a specific business. Funding for New York-based organizations can cover a significant subsidy of the total service costs.
New York City’s Retrofit Accelerator
NYC’s Retrofit Accelerator program provides independent and customized technical assistance and advisory services at no cost to building owners, to help owners accelerate retrofit processes for buildings that are larger than 50,000 sq. ft. The program has been introduced to help owners and operators of privately-owned buildings lower their energy and water costs, and increase property value via upgrading the associated infrastructure.
National Grid Programs and Incentives
Below are financial incentive schemes for National Grid customers in upstate New York.
- Compressed Air Systems (Upstate New York): Financial incentives are provided for upgrading to an energy-efficient compressed air system. Click here to learn more.
- Steam Trap Survey and Prescriptive Incentives (Upstate New York): Funding of up to 50% of the cost of a steam trap survey and trap repairs at a facility – with a maximum of $3,000 provided annually. Click here to learn more.
- Tiered Incentive Program (Upstate New York): Up to 25% in financial incentives are provided to complete several energy-efficiency projects, (including a compressed air system) for large commercial and industrial customers. The more projects that are completed the higher the incentives. Click here to learn more.
Flexible Technical Assistance (FlexTech) Program
Financial support is given for completing an energy study, identifying and evaluating opportunities to decrease energy costs, and incorporating clean energy into capital planning for your business. A FlexTech consultant will work with you to guide you through the application process.
Orange and Rockland Programs and Incentives
Orange and Rockland programs provide sustainable development incentives for businesses operating within New York. Head to the Orange and Rockland website to learn more. Incentives include (but are not limited to):
- Prescriptive Rebate Pathway: Prescription rebates are designed to help businesses save energy and money on their HVAC systems via system upgrades. Click here to learn more.
- Instant Lighting Incentives: ENERGY STAR® rated products and LED lighting is provided at a discounted price for business owners. Click here to learn more.
- POWER READY Electric vehicle program: Your business may be eligible for incentives when you install level 2 and/or direct current fast chargers for light-duty vehicles. These incentives are designed to lower infrastructure costs associated with preparing your site for electric vehicle chargers and receiving electric service from the grid. Click here to learn more.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) administers several programs targeting a wide range of building sectors. NYSERDA provides 75 different programs to help both small and large businesses across New York clean up their energy use. You can scroll through this list and filter as per industry sector.
Green Roof Tax Abatement
The Green Roof Tax Abatement is a one-time property tax abatement for buildings that have green roofs. The tax abatement is equal to $5.23 per square foot of green roof space. The benefit is capped at either $200,000 or the amount of property taxes due for the building that tax year (whichever is less). The Mayor’s Office for Long-Term Planning and Sustainability has promulgated a rule that allows properties in select districts to receive enhanced benefits of $15 per square foot of green roof space. Head to Final Rule on Green Roof Tax Abatement Priority for more information.
Green Innovation Grant Program
Through the Governor’s Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process, the Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP) supports projects that improve water quality and mitigate the effects of climate change through the implementation of one or more of the following green practices:
- Green Stormwater Infrastructure: Improving water quality by reducing and treating stormwater.
- Energy Efficiency: Using less energy for water quality projects.
- Water efficiency: Using improved technologies or practices to deliver better services with less water.
- Environmental Innovation: New and/or innovative approaches to delivering services or managing water resources more sustainably.
Alternative fuels and electric vehicles recharging credit
Your business may be entitled to this nonrefundable credit for investments in new alternative fuels, vehicle refueling property, or electric vehicle recharging property for tax years beginning on or after January 1st 2013. The credit available for each installation is equal to $5,000 or 50% of the cost of the property less any costs paid from the proceeds of grants.
Biofuel production credit
Businesses are entitled to a refundable credit if biofuel is produced on or after January 1st 2006 but before January 1st 2020 (note the last tax year this credit can be claimed is 2019). Fuel must be produced at a biofuel plant located in New York state. The credit limit is $2.5 million per entity per tax year. The credit is equal to $0.15 per gallon of biofuel produced.
Clean Heating Fuel Credit
Businesses are entitled to a refundable credit on the purchase of bio-heating fuel to be used for space heating or hot water production for residential purposes within New York State. Bio heating fuel purchased on or after January 1st 2017, but before January 1st 2023 must contain at least 6% biodiesel per gallon of bio-heating fuel to qualify for the credit. The credit is equal to $0.1 percent of biodiesel per gallon of bio heating fuel purchased.
Conservation Easement Credit
Businesses are entitled to a refundable tax credit if that business owns land subject to a conservation easement project held by a public or private conservation agency. The credit is available to individual and business taxpayers. The maximum conservation easement tax credit claimed is limited to $5,000 each tax year.
Sales and Use Tax exemption for the Sale and Installation of Commercial Solar Energy Systems Equipment (TSM-M-05(11)S)
The installation of commercial solar energy systems equipment is entitled to tax exemption for receipts from the retail sale and installation of commercial solar energy systems equipment. The exemption applies to the 4% state sales and use tax, and the 3/8% sales and use tax imposed by the state in the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD). The exemption applies to sales made and services rendered on or after 1st January 2013.
Sales and Use Tax Exemptions Related to Commercial Fuel Cell System Equipment (TSB-M-16(3)S)
Certain sales and use tax exemptions apply to commercial fuel cell electricity generating systems equipment. The exemptions apply to sales made and services rendered on or after June 1st 2006. The exemption applies to the 4% state sales and use tax (sales tax), plus the 3.8% sales tax imposed by the state in the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD).
Green Projects Tax Credit
The Green Projects Tax Credit allows companies with eligible green projects to capture 7.5% of wages for each net new job created – which is relative to non-green jobs that are eligible for up to 6.85% of gross wages paid. Participants may claim tax benefits in the first taxable year that the enterprise receives a certificate of tax credit, or the first taxable year listed on its preliminary schedule of benefits, whichever is later.
Green Investment Tax Credit
The state has created the Green Investment Tax Credit, which is a discretionary credit that totals up to 5% of qualifying new capital investments. Participants may claim tax benefits in the first taxable year that the enterprise receives a certificate of tax credit, or the first taxable year listed on its preliminary schedule of benefits, whichever is later.
Funding support for the development of innovative nature-based solutions to lower emissions and sequester carbon
$18.1 million is available through the Natural Carbon Solutions Innovation Challenge for the development of nature-based solutions that lower emissions and sequester carbon via novel products and services. The funding, announced by Governor Kathy Hochul, aims to support innovation, build capacity, inform policy, and refine business practices to scale sustainable solutions.
New York Green Bank
New York Green Bank is mobilizing billions of dollars in private capital to target the funding gap for New York energy start-ups. The bank financially supports a range of climate change mitigating solutions, from building efficiency to grid-scale energy storage and clean transportation.
Regenerate New York Forestry Cost-Share Grant Program
The Regenerate New York Cost-Share Grant Program has been designed to support forest regeneration so they may continue to deliver vital services such as climate change mitigation, air and water quality protection, and economic support. This grant is available to for-profit entities that own between 10 and 1,000 acres of land that is forested or can become forested through planning.
The New York sustainability agenda supports the green business
The New York sustainability agenda needs businesses to deliver environmentally and socially-sound operations. As such, the city has introduced several tax credits, grants, and green funding to support organizations operating with a purpose. We hope this article has given clarity over the type of support that’s available, to help your business transition into a sustainable one.
Your business must gain deserving credit for the sustainable investments made using green business certification. This will showcase your sustainability commitment to key stakeholders – the communities, investors, policymakers, and customers of New York.
The Green Business Bureau is a recognized authority of green business across New York state. Once certified, your business will gain a Green Seal of approval that clearly and accurately showcases your sustainability successes along with your purpose-driven goals. Keep track of the developments you’ve made using GBB’s online EcoPlanner. By guiding and documenting your business’s sustainability program, GBB will support the business application process to obtain the financial support you need to achieve your green goals.