We are all seeing the results of climate change as temperatures rise and the weather is increasingly volatile. Changes to reduce greenhouse emissions have been challenging and expensive. Nonetheless, there is little doubt that something needs to be done.
As part of New York City’s ambitious goal for a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and 80% by 2050, Local Law 97 was drafted as part of the De Blasio administration’s New Green Deal and passed by the City Council on November 15, 2019. It addresses the fact that New York City’s largest source of greenhouse emissions is buildings, which contribute two-thirds of the total. The law goes into effect now in 2024, ahead of the first report in 2025.
Which buildings are affected?
There will be exceptions to these rules on a case-by-case basis, but the following must now comply with energy efficiency guidelines and greenhouse gas emission limits:
- Buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet.
- Two or more buildings on the same lot that total 50,000 square feet.
- Two or more buildings totaling 50,000 square feet that are part of the same condo association and governed by the same board of managers.
Some notable exceptions include city-owned buildings, classified religious places of worship, and non-profit hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Complying with the new law
The target date is 2024 because all applicable buildings must file their annual report with the Department of Buildings by May 1, 2025. Buildings that report emissions that exceed the limits will face penalties. If the building makes no changes, about 20-25% will be non-compliant in 2025 and 75%-80% in 2030.
Applicable buildings that do not comply will face stiff fines:
- The difference between the limits and the reported total is multiplied by increments of $268.
- Submitting a fraudulent report is a $500,000 fine.
- Failure to report is a $0.50 per square foot per month fine.
Where to start
Owners, boards and managers can start by determining if their building is subject to the LL 97 guidelines. They can then hire an energy auditor to do a performance study to determine current performance and how to make the building compliant now and down the line. There is also building analytic software and different cost-reducing programs available. Common retrofit suggestions include adding solar panels, converting building HVAC from gas to electric, and installing energy-efficient windows. Less expensive fixes include changing to LED lighting.