A few years ago the city passed a law that makes stores close their doors when they have the air conditioning on. Leaving the doors open wastes energy and puts the city at higher risk for a blackout. But stores leave their doors open anyway, and there is almost no enforcement.

Since enforcement began in 2010, the Department of Consumer Affairs has issued 348 warnings and 25 violations. After a first warning, violations cost stores $200, and then $400 the next time. Not everyone is legally obligated to close their doors — only stores that are larger than 4,000 square feet or that are part of a chain with at least five NYC outlets fall under the law.

As much as leaving the doors open hurts the city, it also hurts the business itself:

“An analysis commissioned by the NRDC found that a business with a typical 6 foot by 7 foot doorway in New York City wastes up to $1,000 dollars and about a ton of CO2 in a summer if it leaves it’s door open with the air conditioning on.”

But it’s clear that big stores on the Upper West Side aren’t following the law, as cool air is constantly pumping out of retailers like American Apparel and Loehmann’s. Local filmmaker Phil Vasquez has been calling out some of the offenders, which he says include Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Irving Farm and the Kangol store. To be fair, the stores around Times square and Herald Square appear to be worse.

Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who introduced the initial bill, asked the Department of Consumer Affairs in May to add “more education or more enforcement” but still hasn’t heard back.

To report a store for blasting the AC with the doors open, click here.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Cato says:

      A significant proportion of the people who frequent these places drive around in Land Rovers and other immense SUVs that measure their fuel efficiency in gallons per mile. (Stand on an UWS street corner if this assertion surprises you.)

      You really expect them to care that energy is being wasted by open store doors?

    2. dcortex says:

      The Coffee Bean has no air conditioning functioning due to a problem in he building. Thats why the door is open, please investigate before spreading misinformation

    3. NP says:

      Dcortex isn’t correct. I’ve been in there a couple of times and they have a mobile AC unit that is oftentimes functioning. The picture above shows the mobile unit with the large silver tubing coming out of it.

    4. Mama says:

      Look at the other side of it, as someone who is often out walking my toddler to sleep for an hour or more, on a really hot day I really appreciate then relief from the heat that these open doors provide!

    5. Westside Wally says:

      That’s a pretty expensive ‘cool blast’, Mama! Stores pass on their electric bill to their customers. The stores call it ‘advertising…’.
      I inform store managers and corporate HQs that I will not shop in their stores. (Dcortex: take note!)

    6. NikFromNYC says:

      If it already costs $1000 per season, obviously that is a good investment for bringing more customers in.