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Zoning for Decarbonization

How can changes to zoning help NYC meet its climate goals?

Published July 10, 2023

In April 2023, the New York City Department of City Planning proposed amendments to the city’s zoning resolution that would modernize the zoning code to make it easier to meet our climate goals.

The proposed changes—referred to as City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality—will cover energy, buildings, transportation, waste and stormwater, and they include recommendations from Urban Green’s 2018 Zone Greener report. If enacted, these changes will remove some existing barriers to decarbonization projects in the NYC zoning code, and are particularly important for buildings.

This panel discussion explored how the new zoning changes will enable energy-efficient design and retrofits, as well as electrification, solar, battery storage, and other building decarbonization projects.

Thank you to Con Edison for sponsoring this event

Con Edison


Adam Cohen
CTO and Co-Founder, Nine Dot Energy

Adam B. Cohen, Ph.D., is Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of NineDot Energy. NineDot builds community energy sites to make the NYC grid cleaner, more resilient, more equitable and less costly. Projects in operation or under development include battery energy storage systems in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island and Westchester. These sites deliver electricity to support tens of thousands of homes during peak demand, while reducing the use of dirty “peaker” plants. Adam holds a Ph.D. in physics from the U. Maryland and a B.S. from Bucknell. Adam was a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Energy Department.

Nilus Klingel
Senior Planner, NYC Dept. of City Planning

Nilus Klingel, AICP, is a senior planner in the Zoning Division at the Department of City Planning’s central office, and is the lead planner on the Department’s “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality” initiative. Since joining DCP in 2014, he has worked on a wide range of sustainability and resiliency efforts, as well as major city initiatives including the rezonings of Governors Island and the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn. Prior to planning, Nilus’ background was in architecture, and he holds an M.Arch. from Syracuse University.

Kate Selden
Solar Policy Analyst, Solar One

Kate Selden is the Solar Policy Analyst at Solar One, a New York nonprofit organization whose mission is to design and deliver innovative education, training, and technical assistance that fosters sustainability and resiliency in diverse urban environments. Solar One’s Here Comes Solar program provides comprehensive solar technical assistance to building owners, affordable housing providers, and community organizations to facilitate high-impact solar projects. As Policy Analyst, Kate builds off the program’s direct technical assistance to analyze and advocate for more equitable solar policy. Kate previously worked in affordable housing development in Brooklyn and as an urban planning consultant for a variety of research and community engagement projects around New York City. Kate completed her MS in City and Regional Planning at Pratt Institute.   

Stas Zakrzewski FAIA, CPHD
Principal and Co-Founder, ZH Architects

Stas Zakrzewski is a principal at ZH Architects, a practice that integrates sustainable strategies into a body of modern and design driven work. ZH is a widely recognized industry and thought leader in Low Carbon Buildings and has completed several certified passive house projects ranging from single family houses to a 24 story residential high rise tower. This range of work has provided an understanding of the hurdles and opportunities available in the current code and regulatory climate.

Danielle Manley (Moderator)
Manager, Policy, Urban Green Council

Danielle is responsible for advocacy, analysis and collaboration on Urban Green’s policy initiatives in New York City and State. She previously worked at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University’s Earth Institute researching and communicating local climate risk information for stakeholders in global cities and ecosystems, and served as project manager for the Third New York City Panel on Climate Change Report. Danielle also worked for nonprofits in Buffalo on environmental education and advocacy. She holds a Master’s Degree in Climate and Society from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the University at Buffalo.