City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality


On December 6, 2023, NYC Council Passed the City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality (COYCN).  It is the first of three “City of Yes” proposals to modernize New York’s zoning to foster a more sustainable, prosperous, and equitable city.  The next two proposals — City of Yes for Economic Opportunity and City of Yes for Housing Opportunity — are currently under public and environmental review. 

The Department of City Planning, under the leadership of Dan Garodnick, led the development of COYCN.  The legislation was supported by Mayor Adams and the City Council.  COYCN includes zoning modifications in four primary areas: 

  • Energy – Enable the installation of more solar energy and batteries
  • Buildings – Support for making our buildings more clean and efficient
  • Transportation – Facilitate the installation of more EV chargers
  • Waste, Stormwater and Food – Expand recycling and composting, permeable paving and rain gardens, and rooftop food production

Bright Power’s policy team worked with city staff directly and provided City Council testimony to ensure that our knowledge of buildings and their needs was represented in the COYCN discussions. We partnered with Urban Green Council,  New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) and others to amplify our voice, and we’re excited to see the updated zoning changes come to fruition. 

COYCN eases restrictions for sustainability improvements and creates new opportunities for building developers, owners and managers as outlined below.


  • Solar Rooftops.  Previously, solar panels were only permitted on 25% of a roof that was built to its maximum height.  With COYCN, solar panels are now permitted, as of right, on 100% of a roof, installed up to 15’ over the roof.  In order to allow FDNY to access the roof in an emergency, there must be at least 9’ of headroom between the roof and any overhead solar panels in the required FDNY access areas.  
  • Solar canopies over parking.  Solar awnings are now permitted obstructions for parking areas and don’t require special permission to construct. 
  • Community solar. Community solar projects can be installed more easily as they have now been reclassified as “energy infrastructure equipment” and are permitted as-of-right up to 10,000 ft2 in residential districts.
  • Batteries.  Batteries, or Energy Storage Systems (ESS), are now permitted as of right, up to 10,000  ft2  in residential districts.


  • Mechanical Equipment.  In order to electrify buildings to reduce their carbon emissions, a lot of equipment needs to be installed, often outdoors and on roofs.  COYCN permits more mechanical equipment to be installed on rooftops and other areas, as long as it is appropriately screened.
  • Façade Retrofits.  Improving the façade of a building typically involves adding more insulation.  If this is done to the interior, it reduces the usable area.  But if it is added to the exterior, it increases built area (measured in floor area ratio, or FAR).  COYCN provides an FAR exemption for façade retrofits up to twelve inches.
  • High Energy Performance Buildings.  Existing buildings which retrofit to become fully electrified, and new construction that qualifies as an “ultra-low-energy building,” can have an additional 5% floor area (in technical terms, a “5% FAR exemption”).  


  • EV Charging.  Open-to-the-public EV charging facilities are now permitted in all Commercial districts.
  • Car Sharing.  Property owners can designate up to 20% of their spaces (or five, whichever is greater) to public EV charging or car sharing, or any combination thereof.
  • Bicycle Storage and Charging.  Bicycle and e-mobility parking and charging, as well as outdoor bike storage lockers, are permitted in many areas.

Waste, Stormwater and Food

  • Permeable Paving.  Permeable paving is always allowed.
  • Rain Gardens and Street Trees.  Greater flexibility for street tree requirements within connected tree beds or rain gardens.
  • Recycling and Composting.  Clarification that small-scale composting is a permitted “accessory use” and neighborhood-focused recycling facilities can locate in commercial storefronts.
  • Rooftop Food Production.  Non-residential rooftop greenhouses no longer require rooftop certification and are permitted as-of-right.

Please contact us or speak to your Bright Power account manager if you would like to explore how COYCN can impact your building or project.