Local Law 97 is impacting real estate in New York City by implementing regulations that aim to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase energy efficiency for building operations.  This law is not only beneficial for the environment, but it will ultimately save the building owners and operators money.

The Climate Mobilization Act is a package of laws that was passed by the New York City Council on April 18, 2019. Local Law 97 (Building Emissions Law) is the centerpiece of this package, and by far the most impactful.  The Act includes other important laws related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including sustainable energy loans (PACE financing), mandatory green roofs, and an assessment of energy storage.

Local Law 97
Establishes emissions caps for buildings over 25,000 square feet.
Local Law 96
Establishes a low interest rate loan program called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Local Law 87
Requires building owners to carry out an energy audit and retro-commissioning every 10 years.
Local Law 84
Requires large building owners to submit benchmarking data (energy and water usage reports).
Local Law 133
Requires mid-size building owners to submit benchmarking data (energy and water usage reports).
Local Law 33
Requires building owners to display energy letter grades and benchmarking scores in a visible place at the entrance of their buildings.

Breaking Down Local Law 97

As a rule of thumb, if you must currently comply with LL84, the NYC Benchmarking Law, then you will be required to follow LL97.

LL97 sets emissions intensity limits (metric tons of CO2e per square foot) for 10 building categories based on building code occupancy groups. However, the intensity limit for each individual building is complex and detailed in the regulations.

Calculating total building emissions depends on an “emissions factor” applied to each source of energy (e.g. natural gas, electricity or district steam) based on its associated carbon pollution emissions. 

What happens if a building does not comply?

If the property owner fails to file an emissions report, exceeds the emission limit, or submits a false statement, they will be in violation of the law. You can find the maximum fine for violating LL97 in the table below:

Violation TypeMaximum Fine
Failure to file a report$0.50 per building square foot, per month
Exceeding emissions limit$268 for each metric ton over the building’s limit
False statement (misdemeanor)$500,000

Based on a recent real-world example of a non-compliant high rise in NYC, the inability to meet or exceed the carbon target will cost the building operations almost $300,000 annually.  If the building management ignores the requirement to file completely, the fines could cost up to $3.3 million dollars annually.

As a real estate owner or operator what do I need to do?

  1. If your building is over 25,000 square feet, you are required to comply with LL97 as well as other statutes of the Climate Mobilization Act.
  2. Define the level of expertise of your current staff that will be able to review the compliance regulations.
  3. Contact a qualified energy consultant to support your specific requirements.

The Bottom Line: Complying with Local Law 97 will save money for your organization. The cost of compliance should be recognized in operational savings.

Evolution Energy Partners, a full-service Energy Management, Engineering and Consulting firm offering Best in Class Sustainability, Energy Efficiency, Procurement, and Analytical solutions.  For more information about the energy efficiency projects and cost savings through energy management contact Dailey Tipton dtipton@evolutionep.com or contact us here.