Cleaning up New York’s dirty heating oil

The New York City Clean Heat campaign is slashing air pollution—and saving lives

Black smoke from dirty heating oil in New York City

Black soot belching out from buildings is a common sight in Manhattan.

Credit: Patti McConville

In the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, one in four children has asthma.

That’s double the rate of the city as a whole, and four times the national average.

Although asthma has multiple causes, air pollution from low-grade No. 6 and No. 4 heating oil is one trigger.

Just 1% of New York City buildings burn these fuels, but they churn out more harmful soot into the air than all the city’s cars and trucks combined.

NYC Clean Heat reduces pollution

Several years ago, EDF began a partnership with the city to phase out heavy heating oils via NYC Clean Heat, a free city program that helps buildings switch to cleaner heating fuels in the most cost-effective manner.

These cleaner fuels include natural gas and ultra-low sulfur No. 2 oil (ULS 2) with biodiesel blends.

We decided it made good business sense to convert to natural gas and stop polluting the air we all breathe.

Jerry Cohen a residential building representative in New York

Mayor announces official phase out

In 2011, the program caught the attention of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, who after working closely with EDF and our allies, announced new rules that formally phase out No. 6 oil by 2015 and No. 4 oil by 2030.

The impact of that decision on illnesses such as asthma and heart disease could be “second only to our achievements in reducing the city’s smoking rates,” said Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner at the time.

“NYC Clean Heat is a blueprint for empowering New Yorkers to lead the transition to the cleanest energy available today,” says Andy Darrell, EDF Chief of Strategy for US Climate and Energy and New York Regional Director.

EDF has been a critical partner and resource in our efforts to make New York a truly sustainable 21st century city.

Michael R. Bloomberg former New York City mayor
  • 4,000buildings that have converted, as of 2014
  • 50%less soot in the air compared to 2011
  • 2,000emergency rooms visits prevented

Resources and toolkit

Visit the NYC Clean Heat for the latest information.

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