What Happened to Congestion Pricing?

Remember congestion pricing? Not surprising if it has slipped one’s mind. To refresh one’s recollection, in 2019, the New York State Legislature passed a congestion pricing law as part of its 2020 budget legislation, known as the “Traffic Mobility Act.” The law established a “Central Business District” within which tolling must be imposed. The Central Business District consists of any roadway, bridge, tunnel, approach, or ramp located south of 60th Street in Manhattan but not the FDR, West Side Highway, Battery Park underpass, or Hugh Carey Tunnel. The law also established the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which is tasked with developing recommendations to be submitted to the MTA’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA). These recommendations are supposed to include the cost of the fees imposed in the Central Business District as well as any credits, discounts, and exemptions. The tolls imposed must generate $15 billion in bonds to fund the MTA. To date, the Traffic Mobility Review Board has not issued recommendations which were first projected to be submitted by the end of 2020 with the State’s expectation that the plan would become effective in January 2021. This has not happened. While public hearings began in fall 2021, there has still been no update on the Board’s recommendations. One explanation for the delay stems from the fact the roadways associated with the Central Business District have received federal dollars. Due to this, New York is required to have an environmental impact statement conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish its congestion pricing program. According to a recent article, Governor Kathy “Hochul and MTA officials have pointed to the federal government’s lengthy approval process for knocking the plan off schedule, citing 425 comments on the project’s environmental assessment.” The topic was raised in a recent Governor’s debate and all candidates, including Hochul, supported a delay. While there was some speculation that Governor Hochul was not fully supportive, another recent article explains she is “100%” in support of congestion pricing. That article also says she met with federal officials to “discuss[] the hundreds of objections and requests for additional information made by federal officials in response to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s initial study of the toll’s environmental and economic impacts.” Still, there is no clearly established timeline for the environmental assessment or the recommendations for the plan. Because the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc. expects an impact on NYC’s plumbing industry as a result of congestion pricing, we are closely monitoring the issue and are prepared to submit comments in support of an exception or discount for those working in the service industry who must respond to 24-hour emergency calls.

Water Conservation, Safety, and Welfare Series Held March 22-24

The Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc. hosted a three-part webinar series in which experts discussed water efficiency, Legionella prevention, and the importance of preparedness against backflow.

Please click on the appropriate link below to watch the recording (note: these videos will only be available for 30 days). If you are interested in the materials presented and would like copies, please email info@plumbingfoundation.nyc.

Part 1: Water Efficiency (originally recorded on March 22, 2022)

Coinciding with World Water Day, this panel discussed water efficiency and sustainability methods, the role of the Licensed Master Plumber, and ways owners can work with their plumber to conserve water usage and increase sustainability. Our expert panelists included:

  • Stephanie Tanner, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, Lead Engineer, WaterSense Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Alan Cohn, Managing Director, Integrated Water Management, NYC Department of Environmental Protection
  • John Brock, Policy Analyst, Integrated Water Management, NYC Department of Environmental Protection
  • Peter Li, PE, LEED AP, Associate Partner, Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Part 2: Legionella Prevention (originally recorded on March 23, 2022)

This panel discussed the Legionella problem and what more can and should be done in New York City to prevent and combat Legionnaires’ Disease. Our expert panelists included:

  • Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine
  • Dr. Janet Stout, President of Special Pathogens Laboratory
  • John Letson, VP of Plant Operations at Memorial Sloan-Kettering
  • Robert Greenberg, President, Evergreen Mechanical
Part 3: Backflow Preparedness (originally recorded on March 24, 2022)

This panel discussed the impact of recent mega storms on NYC homeowners, the Citywide Climate Adaptation Plan passed by the NYC Council last October, as well as the existing backflow prevention requirements and why it is vital to comply with installation and testing requirements. Our expert panelists include:

  • NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.
  • Muhammad Hossain, PhD, PE, Chief-Connections, BWSO, NYC Department of Environmental Protection and Adj. Professor at City University of New York
  • Rob Greenberg, President, Evergreen Mechanical
  • Ron Merhige, PE, CEM, President, RLM Engineering PLLC

Pipecaster Issue 1: Vol. 45

Carbon Reduction, Gas Bans, Electrification: Updates on the NYS CLCPA

The New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) was passed by the state legislature in 2019 and set forth ambitious carbon reduction goals. Specifically, the CLCPA requires that by 2040, New York State achieves 100% zero- emission electricity and by 2050, reduces emissions at least 85% below 1990 levels. Since the law was passed, the New York State Climate Action Council, tasked with developing a scoping plan on how the state will reach its goals, has been working on the long-awaited details to fill the major gaps left by the CLCPA. On December 20, 2022 the Council voted to release a Draft Scoping Plan (the Plan) which is open for public comment through April 2022. The goal is that the Council will finalize a plan by the end of this year. The Plumbing Foundation is currently working on comments to the Draft Scoping Plan and meeting with other stakeholders to strategize for getting our policymakers to understand the ramifications of the proposals in the Plan. Among its proposals, the Plan seeks to have 1-2 million homes and 10-20% of commercial buildings electrified with heat pumps by 2030. By 2050, the Plan seeks to have updated State Building Codes banning gas from new construction, and for 85% of homes and buildings to be electrified with heat pumps. The Plan says New York should ban gas hookups by 2024. Currently, Governor Kathy Hochul has a similar proposal in her Executive Budget which requires the ban to begin in 2027. Another bill being pushed by Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher moves up that timeline to ban gas beginning after December 2023. It is very likely that some legislation will gain traction this legislative session. What the Draft Scoping Plan seriously overlooks is who is going to bear the cost of electrifying 1-2 million homes by 2030 in New York State. While the Plan made admirable efforts to ensure low-income and disadvantaged communities will be subsidized and benefited throughout the transition to clean energy, it did not account for the rest of the state in any meaningful way. The middle class seems to be especially forgotten. The cost of electrifying 1-2 million homes by 2030 will no doubt be in the billions. What is more disturbing in the Plan is that while renewable natural gas (RNG) and hydrogen are mentioned, neither are thoroughly discussed in terms of the benefits and feasibility versus that of full electrification and use of heat pumps. There are over 4,500 miles of natural gas transmission lines, more than 5,500 natural gas gathering lines, nearly 50,000 miles of gas distribution pipelines, and over 37,000 miles of gas service lines in New York State. The Plan proposes to decommission natural gas plants and piping infrastructure rather than use this valuable resource to implement RNG and green hydrogen into the pipeline. Not totally surprising that this is disregarded to any real extent since the Plan’s discussion of displaced jobs fails to mention the plumbing industry in any real capacity. Common-sense folk agree that the state needs to devise a plan to reach the CLCPA goals by implementing an “all the above” approach, meaning use of various technologies, including RNG and green hydrogen. The Plumbing Foundation continues to review the Plan, its appendices, and additional research and reports as it responds to the Council’s recommendations. The comments will be submitted to the Council by the end of April. *As an aside, congestion pricing, which was also passed in 2019 by the NYS Legislature and has somewhat been put on the back burner with hearings only beginning fall of 2021, will play a role in reaching the state’s carbon reduction goals. The Draft Scoping Plan advocates for the MTA to move forward with developing a plan in NYC to reduce vehicle congestion and therefore emissions. Governor Hochul’s budget legislation also has several proposals tied into congestion pricing. The Plumbing Foundation is also closely monitoring movement on this matter.

STILL TIME TO REGISTER FOR OUR LICENSE RENEWAL COURSE!

Construction Trades License Training Corp. in partnership with SUNY Empire State College

presents 7-hour NYC Master Plumber & Master Fire Suppression Contractor License Renewal Course WHEN: Tues., April 5, 2022, 7:30 AM-4:30 PM WHERE: Marriott New York LaGuardia* 102-05 Ditmars Blvd, East Elmhurst, NY 11369 www.plumbingfoundation.nyc/resources/renewal-course/

NYC DEP NOTICE: New Rule Enhances Stormwater Management Requirements

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a statement on February 24, 2022 regarding its new Unified Stormwater Rule (USWR), which requires newly developed or redeveloped properties to more effectively manage stormwater on-site. The USWR follows Local Law 91 of 2020 which enabled DEP to move forward on much needed Chapter 19.1 amendments. The USWR updates and aligns Chapters 31 (stormwater quantity and flow rate requirements) and 19.1 (construction/ post- construction permitting program water quality requirements) of Title 15 of the Rules of the City of New York. Among the changes, the USWR increases the amount of stormwater required to be managed on a property and further restricts the release rates for all new and redevelopment projects requiring a DEP House or Site Connection proposal. It also makes updates to combined sewer areas, specifically expanding applicability to sites that disturb 20,000 square feet or more of soil or create new impervious surfaces of 5,000 square feet or more.

To read the full statement, visit:

www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/news/22-006/to-reduce-flooding-improve-health-waterways-new-rule-enhances- stormwater-management#/0

REMINDER – Timeline for DOB Gas Qualification Cards

The Plumbing Foundation recently received inquiries into the timeline for getting the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) gas qualification card (Local Law 150/2016). Once an applicant has completed the application process through DOB NOW and can request an appointment at DOB, he/she can anticipate obtaining an appointment within approximately two weeks depending on demand (i.e., may be sooner than 2 weeks). At that appointment, the applicant will receive his/her DOB gas card.

New Mayoral Administration, New City Council, New Hope for the Plumbing Industry?

We are well into the first quarter of 2022 and there are still lingering questions about how NYC Mayor Eric Adams, his new administration, and the 35 new NYC Council Members will advocate for the NYC plumbing industry. First, here is a review of some of the relevant appointments made in the Adams’ administration:
  • Lorraine Grillo, First Deputy Mayor
  • Frane Carone, Chief of Staff
  • Tiffany Raspberry, Senior Adviser for External Affairs
  • Dawn Pinnock, Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner
  • Dan Garodnick, City Planning Director/Chair of City Planning Commission
  • Rohit Aggarwala, Environmental Protection Commissioner/Chief Climate Officer
  • Preston Niblack, Finance Commissioner
  • Dr. Ashwin Vasan, Health Commissioner
  • Adolfo Carrión, Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner
  • Zach Iscol, Emergency Management Commissioner
  • Jocelyn Strauber, Investigations Commissioner
  • Nina Kubota, School Construction Authority President/CEO
  • Kevin Kim, Small Businesses Commissioner
  • Ydanis Rodriguez, Transportation Commissioner
  • Thomas Foley, Design and Construction Commissioner
  • Melanie La Rocca, Chief Efficiency Officer (former Buildings Commissioner*)
  • Kizzy Charles-Guzman, Executive Director of Office of Climate and Environmental Justice
  • Lisa Flores, Director of Office of Contract Services
Second, here are key NYC Council Members to watch:
  • Adrienne Adams, Speaker
  • Keith Powers, Majority Leader
  • Lynn Schulman, Chair of Health
  • Justin Brannan, Chair of Finance
  • Rafael Salamanca Jr., Chair of Land Use
  • Diana Ayala, Deputy Speaker
  • Pierina Sanchez, Chair of Housing & Buildings
  • Jim Gennaro, Chair of Environmental Protections
  • CM Selvena Brooks-Powers, Majority Whip
What the Plumbing Industry needs to drive home for our new and incumbent lawmakers and leaders is that the phrase “the plumber protects the health of the nation” is a literal and pertinent aspect of the trade, but who is going to protect the plumber? Here in NYC, master plumbers are local business owners working hard to maintain the health and safety of water and gas infrastructure while constantly battling unnecessary red tape, including at the filing level at the Department of Buildings, and from rules coming down from the state and city making it harder and harder to run a business in New York State. COVID pay, for one, will bankrupt businesses. Insurance costs continue to skyrocket. What’s next? When it comes to informed policymaking, what our elected officials need to know is that licensed master plumbers and their respective trade associations are extremely valuable resources in understanding the practical implications of the laws and policies they pass or are contemplating passing. These professional business owners are seasoned plumbers working with educated and experienced association professionals, consultants, and lobbyists who are available to assist in meaningful ways to ensure our laws, codes and rules are safe, effective, and make practical sense. The Plumbing Industry has its year cut out in terms of educating these new public officials of what it means to be a plumber and what plumbers do for society. But it has a huge opportunity to make great improvements to policies, many of which are outdated or inherently flawed. *Melanie La Rocca has been appointed the Chief Efficiency Officer of the city but as of printing of this newsletter remains wearing “two hats” until a new Buildings Commissioner is appointed.

Every Drop Counts!

EPA WaterSense WaterSense® is a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). WaterSense make is easy to save water. It is both a label for water-efficient products and a resource for water-saving tips.

WHAT DOES WATERSENSE DO?

The WaterSense label is a simple way for consumers to identify water-efficient products, new homes, and programs that meet EPA’s criteria for efficiency and performance. WaterSense labeled products use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than standard models. EPA also supports landscape irrigation professionals certified by WaterSense labeled programs focusing on water efficiency. A full listing of WaterSense labeled products is available on the WaterSense website at www.epa.gov/watersense/products.

WHY PROMOTE WATER EFFICIENCY?

Managing water is a growing concern in the United States. Water managers in at least 36 states expect local, statewide, or regional water shortages to occur over the next few years. Wasting less water in our homes and yards also saves energy and money on utility bills and improves the quality of our water resources nationwide.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

Saving water is easy—WaterSense labeled products are available in a variety of styles, colors, and price points—and it doesn’t require changing the way most of us live or do business. By choosing products with the WaterSense label, you know you’ll be saving water for future generations.
  • Consumers can reduce their water bills by as much as 30 percent by using WaterSense labeled products and other water-efficient appliances.
  • Manufacturers can differentiate themselves in the marketplace by offering WaterSense labeled products that perform as well as or better than standard models.
  • Businesses can help increase the marketability of the water-efficient products they sell and reduce their operating costs by adopting water-efficient best management practices.
  • Builders can partner with WaterSense to construct homes that use less water inside and out.

BE FOR WATER AND START SAVING!

Anyone can join We’re for Water—a campaign sponsored by EPA to educate consumers about the importance of water efficiency—by taking the I’m for Water pledge on the WaterSense website (www.epa.gov/watersense). “Like” WaterSense on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EPAwatersense) or follow on Twitter (@EPAwatersense). PHONE (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) WEBSITE www.epa.gov/watersense EMAIL watersense@epa.gov

THE PIPECASTER is published by the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc.

535 Eighth Ave., Fl. 17, New York, NY 10018 | Phone (212) 481-9740 | Fax (212) 481-7185 | (E) info@plumbingfoundation.nyc
Lawrence J. Levine, Chairman; Louis J. Buttermark, Vice Chairman; Barr Rickman, Treasurer; April McIver, Executive Director; Terence O’Brien, Editor. Board of Directors: Anthony D. Altimari, Paul Belli, Marc Breslaw, Louis J. Buttermark, Harris Clark, Alex Greenberg, Nicholas Katragis, Angelo Lemodetis, Lawrence J. Levine, Scott Lyons, Barr Rickman, Richard Turchiano

THE PLUMBING FOUNDATION’S ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT

Since its establishment in 1986, the Plumbing Foundation has worked diligently to ensure the plumbing industry has as little a “carbon footprint” on New York City as possible. The plumbing industry has historically utilized environmentally friendly materials such as recycled cast-iron and copper piping/fittings. The Foundation will continue in its role of protecting New York City as well as being an advocate for the environment by strengthening its water/sanitary regulations and thereby reducing wasteful water consumption in the City.

Water Conservation, Safety & Welfare

Plumbing Foundation, City of New York, Water Conservation, Safety, & Welfare Please join the Plumbing Foundation for a FREE virtual three-part seminar series March 22-24, 2022! The Water Conservation, Safety, & Welfare series will entail experts discussing water efficiency, Legionella prevention, and the importance of preparedness against backflow. Please click on the applicable event to register! Part 1: Water Efficiency – March 22, 2022 at 10-11am Coinciding with World Water Day, a discussion on the role of the Licensed Master Plumber and ways owners can work with their plumber to conserve water usage and increase sustainability. Our expert panelists include:
  • Stephanie Tanner, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, Lead Engineer, WaterSense Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Alan Cohn, Managing Director, Integrated Water Management, NYC Department of Environmental Protection
  • John Brock, Policy Analyst, Integrated Water Management, NYC Department of Environmental Protection
  • Peter Li, PE, LEED AP, Associate Partner, Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Part 2: Legionella Prevention – March 23, 2022 at 10-11am An overview on the Legionella problem and what more can and should be done in New York City to prevent and combat Legionnaires’ Disease. Our expert panelists include:
  • Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine
  • Dr. Janet Stout, President of Special Pathogens Laboratory
  • John Letson, VP of Plant Operations at Memorial Sloan-Kettering
  • Robert Greenberg, President, Evergreen Mechanical
Part 3: Backflow Preparedness – March 24, 2022 at 10-11am A discussion on the impact of recent mega storms on NYC homeowners, the Citywide Climate Adaptation Plan passed by the NYC Council last October, as well as the existing backflow prevention requirements and why it is vital to comply with installation and testing requirements. Our expert panelists include:
  • NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.
  • Muhammad Hossain, PhD, PE, Chief-Connections, BWSO, NYC Department of Environmental Protection and Adj. Professor at City University of New York
  • Rob Greenberg, President, Evergreen Mechanical
  • Ron Merhige, PE, CEM, President, RLM Engineering PLLC
Registrants will receive a Zoom webinar link the day before the applicable event.

New Yorkers Should be Alarmed by City Council Introduction Bill Number 2317A

In the waning hours of his administration, Mayor deBlasio has misled the City Council to eliminate reliable natural gas, thereby limiting NYC to rely exclusively on electricity for heating, cooking, and hot water. His administration claims it is doing so in the best interests of the climate and NYC businesses and residents. Ask anyone who is a documented and substantiated expert and they will tell you that, based on the SCIENCE, electrification by 2023 or 2027 is not smart, not viable, and not “green.” The advocates for this ill-conceived plan claim to rely on science, but in fact, the science does not support a conversion to full electricity as a sustainable, green, and reliable means of powering NYC. Intro. 2317A prohibits the use of ANYTHING but electricity. How can electricity be the savior for New York City’s climate crisis? It can’t and isn’t. If it were the answer, the federal infrastructure bill signed into law by President Biden less than a month ago would not have invested almost 10 billion dollars into hydrogen (a gas, not electricity) as a part of the fight against Climate Change. The advocates also either failed to mention or the City Council chose to ignore the fact that 70% of electricity production needed to supply NYC’s electric demand is currently produced using some level of fossil fuel consumption. Does that sound “green”? If the science is there, why is a viability study under this bill due the same day the ban goes into effect in 2023? How can City Council members make an educated, informed decision without the information they need to do so? It is irresponsible to restrict buildings from use of other green fuel sources, many of which are being developed, and instead rely solely on electricity, which is not “greener” than gas. We have seen what happens when there is no diversification. We’re not talking just about power related issues like the ones that crippled NYC post Super- Storm Sandy or the Texas grid issue this past winter. A one source approach which is not backed by science is bad for everyone (tenants, homeowners, developers, the current infrastructure, and the environment). The City’s approach should instead be to help support and encourage all clean, green solutions, including gas, instead of relying on a short-sighted, one-size-fits-all approach. PRESS RELEASE: Strong Concerns with NYC Intro. 2317A (gas ban legislation) FROM: Association of Contracting Plumbers City of New York CONTACT: Terence O’Brien 212-481-4580 / t.obrien@acpcny.org DATE: December 14, 2021 Download PDF version of Press release The Association of Contracting Plumbers of the City of New York Inc. (ACP), is a trade association of New York City licensed, unionized plumbing firms. Established in 1881, it is the oldest organization of its kind in the country. ACP member firms have built and maintained the sanitary, fuel gas, methane retention, solar heat/solar hot water, and medical gas systems in countless New York City buildings. ACP plumbing firms protect the health of all who live, work, and visit New York City.

Pipecaster Issue 4: Vol. 44

Hydrogen is [a] Hot [Topic]: Plumbing Foundation’s Renewable Energy Seminar

By April McIver, Esq., Executive Director On November 9, 2021, the Plumbing Foundation was honored to host a panel of experts for a riveting discussion on the role of hydrogen in the implementation of New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act. Both laws were passed by their respective legislatures in 2019 and both set ambitious goals for decarbonization. The CLCPA seeks to achieve 100% zero-emission electricity across the state by 2040, and by 2050, reduce overall emissions at least 85% below 1990 levels. Part of the NYC Act, specifically Local Law 97 of 2019, requires buildings larger than 25,000 sq. ft. to reduce their carbon emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. How we get there is still being determined, but consideration of alternatives to wind and solar, often discussed but not yet viable on a large-scale for NYC, is a must. That consideration should include energy sources like green and blue hydrogen, which was the focus of the Plumbing Foundation’s virtual seminar. 2021 Renewable Energy Forum, The Role Of Hydrogen The major takeaways from the Role of Hydrogen seminar were—
  • DIVERSITY of energy sources
  • EDUCATION of policymakers
  • STUDIES on the cost impact of policies
  • INCENTIVES for INVESTMENT
—as explained in more detail below. Neil Skidell, a mechanical engineer and Managing Director of The Par Group and an expert in the strategic use of technology to solve energy and water safety, conservation, generation, and utilization challenges, urged the seminar’s listeners to be open-minded about piped fuels and understand that electriciation is not the only strategy to meet decarbonization. As Mr. Skidell highlighted, New York is currently powered at 40% by natural gas; given the existing piping infrastructure, the Plumbing Foundation and industry stakeholders alike urge decisionmakers to consider hydrogen a part of the pathways to decarbonization. NYS Senator Kevin Parker emphasized the importance of legislation like the CLCPA and how we are already seeing effects of global warming like the recent Hurricane Ida. He stressed the role of environmental justice and explained that black and latino communities are disproportionately affected by climate change. He said we need to consider not just hydrogen as a fuel but its production and the jobs and benefits that could be created by that production. Hydrogen has great potential to repower plants that may have been powered by coal or gas. The Plumbing Foundation is strongly in support of two vital pieces of legislation introduced by the Senator: S.6497 requires the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) to create a program to foster private sector innovation and investment in “zero emissions energy systems” in order to meet the targets of the CLCPA, and S.3281 creates a “Renewable Hydrogen Incentive and Financing Program.” We will be targeting legislation like this in our 2022 legislative strategy. The Plumbing Foundation could not agree more with Senator Parker: New York does not need to completely obliterate fuels. What we need to do is get to net zero, not absolute zero, and we need to take an all-above approach to get there. “I am not against gas” said Senator Parker, he expects some gas use in the future but “hydrogen will be part of that mix as well.” Other important considerations noted by the Senator include the economies of using water for power generation (meaning turning into hydrogen) in balance with our other uses such as for drinking and agricultural purposes. The Senator stressed that studies are the first step in determining how to decarbonize. Gavin Donohue of the Independent Powers Producers of NY, Inc. (IPPNY), and member of the NYS Climate Action Council, emphasized another major hurdle to reaching the CLCPA goals: we cannot continue to pick winners and losers in the energy sector, we must incentivize investment. Mr. Donohue has sat on the Climate Action Council since 2019, which has been tasked with devising a scoping plan to meet the targets in the CLCPA, the draft of which is to be released December 20, 2021. According to Mr. Donohue, there is a recommendation to place a moratorium on new or repowered fossil fuel facilities in the state. He explained that it is a non-consensus recommendation that IPPNY is against. The recommendation is anti-reliability, anti-business, and anti-consumer. The Plumbing Foundation understands that such a proposal would make New Yorkers’ lives incredibly difficult. “We need creative solutions to meet the demand of the CLCPA” said Mr. Donohue, who highlighted that “dispatchability” of energy is key—that means power can be provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Technologies, including hydrogen, need to be included in the discussion to ensure our pathways to decarbonization are dispatchable pathways. What Dr. Devinder Mahajan of the Advanced Energy Center at Stonybrook University is looking into is key to ensuring hydrogen has a seat at the “energy source” table. Dr. Mahajan is a Professor of Chemical and Molecular Engineering and is Director of the Institute of Gas Innovation and Technology (I-GIT). He provided a scientific perspective on how hydrogen can help achieve the goal of the CLCPA. Because New York has significant natural gas pipeline infrastructure, it makes no sense to abandon it but rather consider hydrogen blending. Dr. Mahajan described I-GIT’s “hydrogen economy concept,” also known as power-to-gas, wherein hydrogen is blended into the natural gas distribution system to offset the carbon content of the fuel. “Europe is ahead of us, about 5 years ahead of us in hydrogen blending” said Dr. Mahajan, so now is the time to ramp up on research and studies to ensure hydrogen production is ready and dispatchable. Jennifer Kearney of Gotham360, a national energy management consulting firm, has major nonprofit clients in the health, education, and institution sectors, who have concerns with the grid capacity, and over having their tremendous investments in natural gas infrastructure be stranded. Her clients have already been working with the NYC government since 2007 to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but part of that was making investments in natural gas, infrastructure assets which are nowhere near their useful end of life. “Pathways to decarbonization should consider the value of diversity,” said Ms. Kearney; diversity of energy sources should include hydrogen. As explained by Ms. Kearney, the NYC electrical grid manages its summer peak through “demand-response,” which results in a series of curtailments across the city for large customers who may be running diesel generators or doing load shedding or moving loads from electrical chillers to steam chillers. There are a lot of megawatts in “demand-response.” Now in a decarbonized economy, with possibly stricter rules around diesel generators, in a winter peak scenario, for example, load moving may not be available which creates concerns that the grid is not ready for winter peak. On the innovation side of things, Paul Schwartz, Co-Founder of ThermoLift, is developing natural-gas-to-hydrogen heating technology. As explained by Mr. Schwartz, New York’s current capacity to electrify would only apply for a certain number of homes but to replace all fuel distributed by the natural gas system, that would be an infrastructure investment of 3-4 times the amount of electricity distributed today. Mr. Schwartz also explained that when looking into alternative sources like hydrogen or renewable natural gas (RNG), it is also vital to consider the end use appliance that needs to use the source efficiently. That is what ThermoLift is developing. It is important for us to engage technologies with a long horizon of success; today we know we can burn natural gas more efficiently and we need the technology and devices to do the same with hydrogen. ThermoLift is currently conducting demonstration programs with utilities like National Grid and Con Edison, meaning the technology of hydrogen as a renewable energy source is almost there. The Role of Hydrogen seminar was an important discussion on the value of hydrogen as an energy source in decarbonization, but also highlighted a larger issue in the overall policymaking and planning by our decisionmakers to eliminate fossil fuel emissions: we cannot think in a vacuum and must consider all existing and emerging technologies, incentivize investment, and better educate ourselves and our communities. To access the entire seminar, please visit: www.plumbingfoundation.nyc/2021-renewable-energy-forum-role-of-hydrogen/

NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection Hears Controversial Gas Ban Bill

On November 17, 2021, the NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection held a hearing on Intro. No. 2317, the gas ban bill. The virtual hearing lasted well over five hours, roughly 100 people were present to testify, and 242 pages of written testimony were submitted. The main proponents of the bill included the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and environmental advocacy groups like New York Communities for Change, as well as a host of individuals, all emphasizing the need to act now to stop fossil fuel emissions. The Plumbing Foundation submitted testimony in opposition to the poorly worded and ill-timed legislation, as did the Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), New York City District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC), Plumbers Union Local No. 1 Training Center, American Petroleum Institute (API), Northeast Clean Heat and Power Initiative (NCHPI), Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY), and Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater New York (BOMA). Numerous other organizations did not testify in outright support or opposition but rather submitted proposed revisions to the bill, including a phased-out timeline and clearer exceptions to the ban. States advancing or prohibiting building gas bans and electrification codes The Plumbing Foundation’s Executive Director, April McIver, testified that the bill, which seeks to ban natural gas hookups on new construction and major renovations beginning in 2024, is extremely vague and that the text can be interpreted to apply to a much broader universe of buildings, not just those doing gut renovations. In addition, she emphasized that the effective date of 2 years from passage is nonsensical in terms of the timeline of emissions goals in the NYC Climate Mobilization Act and NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), especially given that the plan to meet those emissions targets is still being determined. Further, there is no cost impact study on either the state or city level. Rather, Executive Director McIver said that the Council must take a common sense approach which must include: (1) wide-encompassing industry and stakeholder involvement; (2) a diversified and incremental approach to phasing out carbon-emitting energy sources; and (3) educational campaigns aimed at explaining the facts, science, and data behind that diversified approach. If the Council does not use a diversified and incremental approach to meet its own climate protection goals, it is inevitable that down the road stakeholders will return to another hearing on much-needed revisions to Intro. No. 2317. Following the hearing, the NYC Council held individual meetings with relevant stakeholders to begin hashing out potential revisions to the bill. The Plumbing Foundation awaits a revised text and will continue to keep the industry informed of the bill’s progress. Relatedly, the NYS Senate and Assembly will be pushing their own gas ban bills come the 2022 legislative session this January. Sponsored by Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher, S.6843A/A.8431 is also a major priority of the Plumbing Foundation and will be closely monitored. To view the Plumbing Foundation’s written testimony on Intro. No. 2317, please visit: www.plumbingfoundation.nyc/our-work/advocacy/

REMINDER – What to Know Regarding Backflow Prevention Devices and Sprinklers

As the industry knows, property owners must hire a Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) to install a backflow prevention device. However, please remember that when installing a backflow prevention device on a sprinkler and a domestic main BOTH must be pulled: (1) Limited Alteration Application (LAA) for the sprinkler work; and (2) LAA for the plumbing work. Backflow Prevention Devices and Sprinklers For more information, please visit: www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/about/backflow-prevention-frequently-asked-questions.page

THE PIPECASTER is published by the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc.

535 Eighth Ave., Fl. 17, New York, NY 10018 | Phone (212) 481-9740 | Fax (212) 481-7185 | (E) info@plumbingfoundation.nyc
Lawrence J. Levine, Chairman; Louis J. Buttermark, Vice Chairman; Barr Rickman, Treasurer; April McIver, Executive Director; Terence O’Brien, Editor. Board of Directors: Anthony D. Altimari, Paul Belli, Marc Breslaw, Louis J. Buttermark, Harris Clark, Alex Greenberg, Nicholas Katragis, Angelo Lemodetis, Lawrence J. Levine, Scott Lyons, Barr Rickman, Richard Turchiano

THE PLUMBING FOUNDATION’S ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT

Since its establishment in 1986, the Plumbing Foundation has worked diligently to ensure the plumbing industry has as little a “carbon footprint” on New York City as possible. The plumbing industry has historically utilized environmentally friendly materials such as recycled cast-iron and copper piping/fittings. The Foundation will continue in its role of protecting New York City as well as being an advocate for the environment by strengthening its water/sanitary regulations and thereby reducing wasteful water consumption in the City.

The Plumbing Foundation Testifies at Hearing on Controversial Gas Ban Bill

On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, Executive Director April McIver testified among approximately 100 others at the NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection Hearing on Intro. No. 2317, the gas ban bill. Executive Director McIver testified that the bill, which seeks to ban natural gas hookups on new construction and major renovations beginning in 2024, is extremely vague and that the text can be interpreted to apply to a much broader universe of buildings, not just those doing gut renovations. In addition, she emphasized that the effective date of 2 years from passage is nonsensical in terms of the timeline of emissions goals in the NYC Climate Mobilization Act and NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), especially given that the plan to meet those emissions targets is still being determined. Further, there is no cost impact study on either the state or city level. Rather, Executive Director McIver said that the Council must take a common sense approach which must include: (1) wide-encompassing industry and stakeholder involvement; (2) a diversified and incremental approach to phasing out carbon-emitting energy sources; and (3) educational campaigns aimed at explaining the facts, science, and data behind that diversified approach. If the Council does not use a diversified and incremental approach to meet its own climate protection goals, it is inevitable that down the road stakeholders will return to another hearing on much-needed revisions to Intro. No. 2317. Others testifying in opposition were the Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), New York City District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC), Plumbers Union Local No. 1 Training Center, American Petroleum Institute (API), Northeast Clean Heat and Power Initiative (NCHPI), Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY), and Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater New York (BOMA). The main proponents of the bill included the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and environmental advocacy groups like New York Communities for Change, as well as a host of individuals. Numerous other organizations did not testify in support or opposition but rather submitted proposed revisions to the bill, including a phased-out timeline and more clear exceptions to the ban. Click here to view the Plumbing Foundation’s written testimony.

2021 Renewable Energy Forum: Role of Hydrogen

The Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc. hosted a discussion on November 9th on the role of hydrogen in the implementation of climate protection policies to meet our local carbon emission goals. Also discussed was systemic resiliency and why total electrification for heating and cooking is not viable or cost efficient in NYC. A link to the webinar is available here. Presentations and supporting materials available for download below:

Pipecaster Issue 3: Vol. 44

Is New York City a powder keg for fatal but preventable building failures?

By Terence O’Brien The horrific condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, leading to 98 deaths, should make us pause and reflect on the safety of our buildings and infrastructure. This tragedy sparked responses by policymakers urging more regulation by way of stricter building codes and stronger oversight including more frequent inspections. Buildings and infrastructure have failed many times over the last 15 years around the country. But let’s hope that Surfside was an anomaly and not the beginning of a disturbing and regular trend. New York City has a strict—some say burdensome—Construction Code. But NYC arguably has the strongest codes with the specific goal to enhance safety; therefore, most of the burdensome requirements are justified. Much of the Construction Code focuses on the design and construction phases, not necessarily maintenance of existing buildings which have been around for 20+ years. City electeds and the NYC Department of Buildings, as well as industry professionals, should be commended for all the work done on these comprehensive—and leading—NEW building construction codes. With that said, policymakers have a tendency to react to a problem in the aftermath of tragedy rather than foresee an issue and implement proactive measures. For example, the NYC Council passed gas safety laws following two deadly gas explosions in East Harlem and East Village in 2014 and 2015 respectively. However, there are still some gaps in our Construction Code for the one million+ buildings in NYC. New York’s policymakers may not be unique in their response to tragedies but NYC is unique in other ways, so why aren’t we engaging in more preventative measures rather than being on the defensive? Many industry associations warn policymakers about potential building integrity and construction safety concerns based on unclear Codes or the lack of regulation, or sometimes due to the absence of enforcement (which may be based on manpower or budget constraints). Many times, these associations only find themselves getting through to policymakers after something tragic has happened. Organizations like the Plumbing Foundation of NYC would rather see our trusted elected officials and regulators taking necessary steps ahead of tragedy to prevent death and injury. Proactive action by policymakers includes strengthening and enforcing gas safety laws, like amending Local Law 152/2016 which requires inspections of building gas piping, to make it clear that the point of entry and commercial tenant spaces must be in the scope of the inspection. Additional relevant policy includes, regulating modular construction so that it is held to the same safety standards as stick-built construction, increasing fines for not installing mandatory backflow devices, or mandating testing of potable water to prevent Legionella. Policymakers are in the position to do these things BEFORE tragedy erupts. The lives lost in the Surfside collapse, above all else, are no doubt the worst-case scenario when the integrity of a building’s structure is compromised. Yes, let policymakers and experts work together to determine how to improve the built environment to prevent future occurrences, but more must be done proactively, especially when we know the consequences. Terence O’Brien is the Executive Vice President of the Association of Contracting Plumbers of the City of New York, Inc. and Senior Director of the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc. A version of this article was published in Real Estate Weekly on September 3, 2021, available at rew-online.com/lets-not-wait-for-disaster-to-happen-before-we-react/.

NYC Council Moves Ahead with LL152/2016 Amendments

On September 13, 2021, the NYC Council held a hearing on several pieces of legislation related to Local Law 152 of 2016, which requires periodic inspections of building gas piping systems. Of the bills heard on September 13th, the following were related to LL152:
  • Intro. No. 2259 – extending the deadlines for buildings in Community Districts 2, 5, 7, 13, and 18 in each borough from December 31, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
  • Intro. No. 2321 – requiring the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to create a hardship program for owners unable to comply with LL152 inspection due dates.
  • Intro. No. 2361 – requiring DOB to create a questionnaire related to LL152 inspections for owner feedback .
  • Intro. No. 2377 – extending the physical scope of gas piping inspections.
The Plumbing Foundation submitted written and oral testimony regarding the above bills. We reiterated the industry’s position that these are critical safety inspections, and any extension or hardship program considerations should be carefully balanced by the Council and DOB. Most importantly, the Plumbing Foundation commented on the proposed language in Intro. No. 2377, which seeks to clarify the scope of the inspection. While the plumbing industry commends the Council for taking important and necessary steps to clarify what needs to be part of the inspection, we explained to the Council that the amendment falls short and rather creates confusion. The bill proposes the following language:
§ 28-318.3.2 Scope. At each inspection, in addition to the requirements prescribed by this article or by the commissioner, all exposed gas lines from the point of entry of gas piping into a building, through the point of connection to any equipment that uses gas supplied by such piping, including building service meters, [up to individual tenant spaces] shall be inspected for evidence of excessive atmospheric corrosion or piping deterioration that has resulted in a dangerous condition, illegal connections, and non-code compliant installations. The inspection entity shall also test all exposed gas lines from the point of entry of gas piping into a building through the point of connection to any equipment that uses gas supplied by such piping, including, but not limited to, building service meters, public spaces, hallways, corridors, [and] mechanical and boiler rooms and tenant-operated commercial kitchens with a portable combustible gas detector to determine if there is any gas leak, provided that such testing need only include [public] spaces, hallways and corridors on floors that contain gas piping or gas utilization equipment.
We explained there are several issues with the proposed language. First, the gas meter is not in the purview of DOB but governed by the NYS Public Service Commission. Second, the scope of the inspection should include all visually accessible gas piping except for inside individual dwelling units, or residential tenant spaces. The original law did not clarify that commercial tenant spaces, many of which pose an important safety threat (i.e., restaurants, etc.), must be inspected. The proposed language in 2377 only seeks to clarify (albeit confusingly) that the point of entry must be inspected, as well as gas equipment and commercial kitchens. This does not cover all the potential commercial tenant spaces that should be inspected (think: daycare facilities, educational institutions, etc.). We believe this language needs to be edited before the Council moves forward on 2377. In addition, we testified that the following should also be included in an A version of 2377:
  • Allowing licensed master plumbers (LMPs) to certify that a building contains no gas piping, otherwise an owner has to hire a more costly registered design professional to do so. Our understanding is that the DOB is also in support of this change.
  • Requiring that only LMPs and those holding a gas work qualification from the Department be able to conduct inspections (to provide the 5 years’ experience requirement that DOB set forth in rule).
  • Requiring DOB to add to its reporting requirements any information collected by the combustible gas indicator / leak survey instrument.
  • Clarifying the actions that must be taken for immediately hazardous v. nonimmediately hazardous abnormal operating conditions (AOCs).
  • Reversing the DOB’s lowering of a civil penalty, otherwise this is only going to incentivize continued non-compliance.
The Plumbing Foundation hopes that the Council takes these proposed revisions into careful consideration and will amend 2377 before the bill is passed into law. We will update the industry on the status of such legislation.

2021 Renewable Energy Forum, The Role Of Hydrogen

2021 Renewable Energy Forum, The Role Of Hydrogen

November 9, 2021
Tuesday (10am-noon)

Virtual
2021 Renewable Energy Forum, The Role Of Hydrogen
Presented by The Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc.
Join us for this virtual event as we discuss the role of hydrogen in the implementation of climate protection policies and to meet our carbon emission goals in NYC, and to discuss why total electrification for heating and cooking is not viable or cost efficient in NYC.
This is a FREE Zoom event. To register, visit
21renewableenergyforum.eventbrite.com

Announcement from NYC DEP for Online Permits

Please see below notice from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, as well as the attached FAQs from DEP. We are pleased to announce that the major expansion of BWSO’s online filing portal is live! Attached [are] FAQs for your use. Effective August 30, 2021, the following permit types must now be submitted through PARIS:
Tap Connection Wet Connection Water Plug Tap and Plug Wet Connection and Plug New Sewer Connection Sewer Plug Hydrant Flow Tests Water Repair Water Relay Sewer Repair Sewer Relay Plumber’s Self-Certification (Tap Card)
To facilitate the successful use of the system by interested LMPs throughout the city, DEP will be scheduling a virtual information session via Zoom. The session will be held on September 7, 2021 at 2:00pm. The information session will provide a detailed walk through of the latest expansion. If you would like further information about this session or to RSVP, please respond to this email. We are excited about this update to the system, which we hope will improve your permitting experience. We will be sharing more details soon. Questions? Call 718-595-3088 or email PARIS@dep.nyc.gov

2020 Drinking Water Supply and Quality Report

NYC has the best water in the world! But don't just take our word for it. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has released the 2020 Drinking Water Supply and Quality Report. Call 311 to request a copy. Assistance provided in multiple languages.

Can Employers Mandate the COVID Vaccine?

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
The federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, subject to the reasonable accommodation provisions of Title VII and the ADA and other EEO considerations discussed below. These principles apply if an employee gets the vaccine in the community or from the employer.
Remember, the ADA also requires that an employer maintains the confidentiality of employee medical information, such as documentation or other confirmation of the COVID-19 vaccination. For more information, please visit: www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

PARIS eFiling Expansion Frequently Asked Questions

August 30, 2021

ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT

Q1. When WSPS transitions to PARIS, how will I access my WSPS permits? A1. You will be able to access all your approved WSPS permits and tap cards in the PARIS system. Q2. I’m not registered for PARIS, how do I register? A2. For information on how to register for PARIS, please check out our website www.nyc.gov/dep. Q3. What happens to the money in the My DEP account? A3. The funds in your My DEP account will continue to be available. You can use the balance towards permits not available in PARIS. Q4. How do I withdraw my account balance? A4. You can contact the Bureau of Customer Service (BCS) for more information on how to close your My DEP account. Please note that BCS has a backlog of water/sewer permits filed on paper as well as on WSPS, therefore you should keep funds in your account to cover all pending permits.

FILINGS

Q1. I have pending permits in WSPS, where do I access these permits? A1. You will have access to your approved permits in PARIS. Objected permits must be re-filed using the PARIS system. Q2. I need to refile my application in PARIS, what happens to the fee paid in WSPS? A2. We have not withdrawn fees for objected permits, so the funds remain in your account. Q3. What permits can I obtain in PARIS? A3. You can file for the following applications on PARIS:
  • Water
    • Tap Permit
    • Tap & Plug Permit
    • Wet Connection Permit
    • Wet Connection & Plug Permit
    • Water Plug
    • Repair
    • Relay
  • Sewer
    • New Sewer Connection
    • Sewer Plug
    • Repair
    • Relay
  • Other
    • Hydrant Flow Test
Q4. Do I need to submit my applications via email to bwsolocaloffices@dep.nyc.gov? A4. No, you can file for your permits directly in PARIS. Q5. How do I pay for my permits in PARIS? A5. In PARIS you can pay for permits using an e-check or credit card. If you have questions or to provide feedback please email PARIS@dep.nyc.gov

THE PIPECASTER is published by the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc.

535 Eighth Ave., Fl. 17, New York, NY 10018 | Phone (212) 481-9740 | Fax (212) 481-7185 | (E) info@plumbingfoundation.nyc
Lawrence J. Levine, Chairman; Louis J. Buttermark, Vice Chairman; Barr Rickman, Treasurer; April McIver, Executive Director; Terence O’Brien, Editor. Board of Directors: Anthony D. Altimari, Paul Belli, Marc Breslaw, Louis J. Buttermark, Harris Clark, Alex Greenberg, Nicholas Katragis, Angelo Lemodetis, Lawrence J. Levine, Scott Lyons, Barr Rickman, Richard Turchiano

THE PLUMBING FOUNDATION’S ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT

Since its establishment in 1986, the Plumbing Foundation has worked diligently to ensure the plumbing industry has as little a “carbon footprint” on New York City as possible. The plumbing industry has historically utilized environmentally friendly materials such as recycled cast-iron and copper piping/fittings. The Foundation will continue in its role of protecting New York City as well as being an advocate for the environment by strengthening its water/sanitary regulations and thereby reducing wasteful water consumption in the City.

The Plumbing Foundation Testifies at Hearing on Gas Inspection Bills

On Monday, September 13, 2021, Executive Director April McIver testified at the NYC Council Committee on Housing & Buildings Hearing on several pieces of legislation related to Local Law 152/2016 periodic gas inspections, including:
  • Intro. No. 2259 – extending the deadlines for buildings in Community Districts 2, 5, 7, 13, and 18 in each borough from December 31, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
  • Intro. No. 2321 – requiring the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to create a hardship program for owners unable to comply with LL152 inspection due dates.
  • Intro. No. 2361 – requiring DOB to create a questionnaire related to LL152 inspections for owner feedback .
  • Intro. No. 2377 – extending the physical scope of gas piping inspections.
Executive Director McIver reiterated the industry’s position that LL152 inspections are critical safety inspections and any extension or hardship program considerations should be carefully balanced by the Council and DOB. Most importantly, the Plumbing Foundation raised several concerns with Intro. No. 2377, which seeks to clarify the scope of the inspection. While the plumbing industry commended the Council for taking important and necessary steps to clarify what needs to be part of the inspection, McIver stated that, respectively, the amendment falls short and rather creates further confusion. The Plumbing Foundation proposed instead that the bill is revised as follows:
  • The scope of the inspection should include all visually accessible gas piping except for inside individual dwelling units (i.e. residential tenant spaces) and the point of entry regardless of location.
  • Allow licensed master plumbers (LMPs) to certify that a building contains no gas piping, otherwise an owner has to hire a more costly registered design professional.
  • Require that only LMPs and those holding a gas work qualification from the Department be able to conduct inspections (to provide the 5 years’ experience requirement that DOB set forth in rule).
  • Require DOB to add to its reporting requirements any information collected by the combustible gas indicator / leak survey instrument that are needed to perform these inspections.
  • Clarify the actions that must be taken for immediately hazardous v. nonimmediately hazardous abnormal operating conditions (AOCs).
  • Reverse the DOB’s recent lowering of a civil penalty and rather increase it – a lower penalty will only incentivize continued non-compliance. We have seen lowering of penalties, by rule or law, in many safety related installations; from sprinklers to backflow devices and inspections of water tanks and cooling towers, noncompliance can lead to devastating effects.
Executive Director McIver urged the Council to take these proposed revisions into careful consideration. Chairman Robert Cornegy acknowledged that the industry will be part of the ongoing negotiations of the bill.