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New York's push for biodiesel usage


N.Y.C. leads the U.S. in heating oil consumption, burning over a billion gallons annually. To help reduce oil heat's devastating environmental impact, N.Y. has passed laws at the state and local level to promote the usage of Bioheat.

Bioheat refers to blends of blends of traditional petroleum heating oil and biodiesel, a renewable fuel that produces the same energy as petroleum, but can be made from recycled waste, vegetable oil, virgin oils, rendered animal fats, and even algae. Mixtures are graded by the percentage of biodiesel they contain - B2 is 2% biodiesel and 98% petroleum, B50 is 50% biodiesel and 50% petroleum, etc.

Local Law 43, which took effect in 2012, requires all home heating oil in N.Y.C. to contain at least B2 and cut the sulfur allowed in No. 4 heating oil by half. NYS' Clean Heating Oil law dropped the sulfur allowed in No. 2 oil by 99%. These laws will help N.Y. replace 20 million gallons of petroleum with biodiesel each year, and will drastically reduce the burning of smog-producing sulfur.

These laws can also mean real savings for individual homeowners and landlords. The sulfur in heating oil causes soot buildup, affecting air quality and making boilers work harder with dramatically less efficiency. Biodiesel can cost a few cents more per gallon, but burns much cleaner, keeping boilers running efficiently and reducing the need for costly maintenance. Additionally, New York homeowners and businesses can get a tax rebate of $0.01 per gallon for each percentage of biodiesel, up to $0.20 per gallon for B20.

Best of all, if you're already using No. 2 heating oil, converting to biodiesel doesn't require any expensive equipment upgrades. Most No. 2 burners are compatible with up to B20 Bioheat already. Converting from the heavier No. 4 or 6 oils to may cost a building owner $15,000, which seems pricey until you compare it with another popular option, converting to natural gas, which would cost the same building owner $70,000 to $500,000. Biodiesel also runs 30% more efficiently and, unlike natural gas, does not promote the controversial practice of fracking.

Bronx-based TriState Biodiesel sees B20 as just the beginning. For the past four years, they have been helping B20 Bioheat users in N.Y.C. convert their boilers to run B99. And it's not just homeowners; since September 11, 2009, TriState Biodiesel has powered the Twin Towers Tribute Lights with B50, and in 2013 switched to a whopping B99.9.

Eco is not just a luxury item any longer; increased demands are helping to lower costs. Renewable energy options include wind, solar, geothermal & biodiesel. Many require large investments offering five to seven year payback, like solar. With its lower initial investment and savings from reduced maintenance and tax rebates, converting to Bioheat can pay for itself in a single year.

So whether motivated by compliance or environmental responsibility, biodiesel is a renewable energy option that homeowners, landlords, and developers can all use to reduce their properties' environmental impact and improve air quality.

Biodiesel is just one way that Rapid Realty NYC is connecting eco-friendly, sustainable Services to the real estate industry. To find out more about how to upgrade your system or get Bioheat delivery, contact RapidGreen@rapidnyc.com.

Stephanie Barry is the chief sustainability officer of Rapid Realty NYC, Brooklyn, N.Y.




Stephanie Barry, Rapid Realty