What NYC’s Commitment to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Means to You

By John Lashley

New York City has long been recognized as a national leader in urban sustainability. Adoption of Local Law 84 of 2009 established benchmarking based on the energy use and conservation of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Several years later, Local Law 133 of 2016 expanded benchmarking requirements to buildings that exceed 25,000 square feet. It is safe to say that recent passage of Local Law 97 of 2019 steps up the sustainability game.

LL 97 not only sets ambitious targets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions—40% of 2005 levels by 2030, 80% by 2050—but it also expands the definition of “covered buildings” to include the following:

  1. Buildings containing one or more dwelling units with a legal regulated rent, pursuant to the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974, the Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 or the Local Emergency Housing Rent Control Act of 1962.
  2. Buildings containing one or more dwelling units required by law to be registered and regulated, pursuant to the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 or the Rent Stabilization Law of 1969.
  3. Buildings developed with subsidies received, pursuant to Section 1701q of Title 12 of the United States Code.
  4. Buildings participating in a project-based assistance program, pursuant to Section 1473f of Title 42 of the United States Code
  5. Real estate owned by any religious corporation located in the City of New York as now constituted, actually dedicated and used by such corporation exclusively as a place of public worship and as it appears in the records of the Department of Finance.
  6. Buildings that exceed 25,000 gross square feet.
  7. Two or more buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 50,000 gross square feet.
  8. Two or more buildings held in the condominium form of ownership that are governed by the same board of managers and that together exceed 50,000 gross square feet.

Compliance for (Almost) All Properties?

Paradoxically, buildings that are not required to comply reappear under the definition of “covered buildings” earlier in the law, with the following exceptions:

  • Real property not more than three stories with individual HVAC and hot water heating systems serving no more than two dwelling units
  • Industrial facilities whose primary use is for the generation of electric power or steam

In such cases, it would be wise to remember the purpose of the law and not get into the nomenclature as future amendments will reflect intent.

Compliance Requirements

If you are a building owner, manager or developer with a current or planned building that is described above, what exactly do you have to comply with and when?

Here’s a succinct breakdown of requirements.

  1. Demonstrate that your building’s annual emissions for calendar year 2024 do not exceed the applicable annual building emissions limit projected for calendar years 2030 through 2034 by submitting a report, prepared and certified by a registered design professional, before May 1, 2025.
  2. Confirm implementation of energy conservation measures by December 31, 2024, through submission of a report, prepared and certified by a retro-commissioning agent, before May 1, 2025.

You are required to comply with one of the above requirements.

Now, here’s where it gets simple. Your building has probably already been “benchmarked.” The property will soon receive—if it hasn’t already—an Energy Efficiency Grade.

  • If your building is already energy and water efficient, you likely will need to provide a report as described in the first item above.
  • If your building does not fare well in either “benchmarking” or has a low Energy Efficiency Grade, then you will probably need to provide a report as described in the second item above.

If you have questions about your specific property or project, please contact Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344.