In 2019, Local Law 97 was enacted as part of the Climate Mobilization Act to essentially place hard carbon caps on various building types – residential or commercial, that are larger than 25,000 sq ft. The law gets implemented in 2024, only to become more stringent with time to accomplish its grander goal of 80% carbon reduction by 2050. Many buildings have significantly reported being way over permissible limits requiring immediate intervention with retrofitting and alternative compliance.
Which properties are affected?
1. Buildings over 25,000 square feet
2. Two or more buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 50,000 square feet
3. Two or more condominium buildings governed by the same board of managers that together exceed 50,000 square feet
Who is exempted?
The following building types are not required to comply with the Local Law 97:
● A classified religious place of worship
● Nonprofit hospitals and healthcare facilities
● Industrial buildings which are used predominantly to generate electric power or steam
● rent-regulated housing
● Housing that is owned by (or on land owned by) the NYC housing authority
● Buildings that are part of a federal housing program
● Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) properties
● Multi-family dwellings of 3 stories or lower, with no central HVAC or hot water system
Tip #2 Understand the WHYs of doing it
1. Reducing energy expenses
The most immediate and apparent benefit is reduced energy expenditure. From problems as small as air leaks that usually go unnoticed but continue to burn pockets, to dangerous health risks instigated by carbon monoxide emissions released by faulty equipment are correct.
2. Increasing property value
Incorporating recommendations rendered by the experts ultimately makes the building more efficient which increases the property’s worth. Planting solar panels, LEDs, and performing weatherization does not just make the building greener and more efficient, but also hotter on the market.
3. Showing environmental concern
Showing some amount of environmental concern is required from businesses, buildings and all entities now not only from a brand-building point of view, although that’s non-negotiable, also to genuinely address the rocketing carbon levels.
4. Non-compliance is costlier than executing any escape
Non-compliance is deemed penal with fines designated by The City at $268 per metric ton for the exceeded carbon footprint! Fines are also designated for submitting false reports and worse, for not submitting a report. You can calculate your building’s fine by converting its carbon footprint from kg to metric tons ( divide by 1,000) and then multiply the difference between the limit and your actual carbon footprint by $268.
Compliance is brought about by submitting an emissions intensity report sanctioned by a registered design professional every year come 2025.
Tip #3 Understand that all laws are intersectional; complying with once helps you comply with all
Local Law 97 cannot experience compliance in isolation for its related laws sort of prepare the building to come into a fit condition to comply. These sustainability strengthening initiatives date back to 2009 – Local Laws 84, 87, and 133.
Local Law 87 mandates for buildings over 50,000 square feet to perform energy audits & retro-commissions periodically as part of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. The law intends for building owners to remain informed about their energy consumption patterns so as to ideally maximize energy efficiency and slash carbon emissions.
Tip #4 Understand the difference between an Energy Audit & Retro-commissioning
The basic requirements of the law are:-
1. Determining how and when a building needs to comply
2. Conducting an energy audit & retro-commissioning of all the systems mandatorily will enable the owners to submit the Energy Efficiency Report. The report is to be compulsorily submitted to the City once every ten years.
Energy Audit Retro-commissioning
● The law requires an Energy Audit to be performed by or under the supervision of an energy auditor.
● The results of the report have to be filed with the Department of Buildings as an ‘energy efficiency report’, which comprises information on audit as well as retro-commissioning.
● It is basically a study of a building’s energy-using equipment. The objective is to discover ways (Energy Conservation Measures) for the facility to practice energy reduction without compromising on the current and/or planned operations.
● The auditor will further quantify potential savings, or a simple payback period and their associated cost of implementation.
● Before filing the report, owners must ensure for the retro-commissioning has been completed by a retro-commissioning agent for the required base systems. This is an organized process of documentation that identifies low-cost operational & maintenance improvements in the existing buildings.
● It includes a proper analysis of operating protocols, calibration and sequencing, cleaning and repairs, and training and documentation issues. The focus lies on mechanical equipment, lighting, and related controls to optimize performance as opposed to major equipment replacement.
● It typically begins with studying past utility bills & conducts interviews with the facility personnel, followed by execution and analysis of diagnostic monitoring and functional tests of building systems. These are finally retested and re-monitored to fine-tune improvements, all of which result in improved indoor air quality, comfort, controls, & energy, and resource efficiency.
Tip #5 How do you exactly measure carbon?
Star Portfolio Manager is a good place to start after having submitted energy benchmarking data onto it by May 1 to comply with the LL84. The tool will then convert the submitted data into the building’s energy usage into carbon emissions. These figures are not the entire prerequisite of LL97, but they are a good place to start to compare your carbon limits with those of 2024 and 2030 (as long as the units used don’t vary).
After finding the total carbon emissions in the Portfolio Manager, you’ll have to calculate the carbon emissions limit to gauge whether or not you’re complying. Find your building type and simply multiply the limit by the gross square footage, and you will derive the permissible limit. If the total is higher than the limit, then you are in the need of immediate interventions.