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Local Law 97 Is Now In Effect – Things Building Owners Need to Know!

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  • Digital Team 

Building owners bear the responsibility of achieving substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Local Law 97 (LL97), a component of the city’s Climate Mobilization Act, was passed by the city council of NYC in 2019 to make NYC carbon-neutral by 2050. 

Then-mayor Bill de Blasio focused on buildings larger than 25,000 square feet, a requirement reached by over 50,000 buildings in NYC. He noted that buildings account for nearly two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in NYC.

LL97 primarily affects building owners, developers, landlords, and property managers in New York City. However, many owners and developers across the country are closely following the developments in NYC. They are doing so, hoping similar regulations will soon be in action in their states. 

In 2024, LL97 NYC is going to impose further restrictions on energy efficiency and CO2 emissions for NYC buildings under this law. In 2030, additional restrictions will be implemented. Moreover, now that LL97 is in effect, you must know a few things. First, let’s quickly look at what LL97 is.

NYC Local Law 97: An Overview

The new Department of Buildings policy, known as Local Law 97 NYC, prohibits major structures in New York City from emitting more greenhouse gasses than a predetermined threshold. 

When you get to the checkout line at your neighborhood grocery store for your weekly buy, picture yourself using the express lane designated for customers with 10 or fewer items. This is done to guarantee efficiency and to enable a quicker checkout procedure. The goal of Local Law 97 NYC is the same, but it applies to buildings in big cities like New York City.

The following types of buildings must abide by NYC Local Law 97:

  • More than 25,000 square feet of building space.
  • The total area of several structures on a single tax lot exceeds 50,000 square feet.
  • Several buildings totaling more than 50,000 square feet are owned by a condominium association and managed by the same group of board managers.

Local Law 97: How It May Make Things Challenging In NYC?

Though enforcing Local Law 97 throughout the wonderful city of New York City is an admirable endeavor, it won’t be simple. Let’s start with the fact that things tend to change just as quickly as they do in New York City. This is especially true after the Covid pandemic when many small businesses closed their doors, and new ones were being built. 

Put simply, the topography of New York City is ever-changing, so even if the regulation is limited to structures larger than 25,000 square feet, it might be difficult to institute. Moreover, property owners who wish to adhere to Local Law 97 New York will be legally bound to perform the following actions with respect to their rental units: 

  • Enhance the systems for heating and cooling
  • Change out the lighting fittings
  • Include updated ventilation systems
  • Cast your vote on significant building decisions, like installing solar panels or replacing the roof.

Thus, one of the main obstacles to LL97 is that it will need the cooperation of every building’s property owners. This means that the process may take longer than you may expect. That’s because ideas to comply with NYC Local Law 97 may not proceed if there is no chance of a majority vote.  

Carbon Emission Goals Set By Local Law 97

According to Local Law 97, the kind of occupancy spaces in a building determines the emission restrictions. For example, a mixed-use building with residential space on the upper floors and retail space on the ground floor determines its emission limitations based on the square footage of the different types of spaces.

The following is a list of Local Law 97’s carbon emission limitations broken down by occupancy classes:

Facilities/Structures Carbon Emission Limitation (tons/sf)
Laboratories, Civic Emergency0.02381
Factory & Industrial0.00574
High Hazzard0.02381
Senior Assisting Living0.01138
Hotels & Dormitories0.00987
Residential, Multifamily0.00675

Learn How LL97 NYC Affects Building Owners 

By 2030, LL97 is expected to mandate a 40% decrease in emissions citywide or a 26% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from covered buildings. That comes to 5.3 million metric tons, the same as the total amount of emissions produced by the city of San Francisco. 

Around 50,000 buildings are impacted by the NYC green building ordinance, many far over their emissions limit. This implies that by 2030, many buildings will probably need to update their energy management systems significantly or find alternative compliance.

2030 will witness much stricter limits compared to what it is now, and this is done to give individuals almost ten years time to get ready for the changes. 

What Happens If You Don’t Submit LL97 Report

If the infraction is not resolved within a year, you will be penalized $0.50 for every square foot of your building if you neglect to file a report. Thankfully, the grace period is sixty days before the due date. You won’t be responsible for the fine if you submit your report by the deadline. However, avoid waiting until the last minute and causing yourself needless stress!

What Happens If You Use False Statements To Submit LL97 Report 

Ideally, you wouldn’t think about lying in your report. Still, just in case, You might face a felony prosecution and up to a $500,000 fine if your report incorporates any false statements. Another possibility is a 30-day jail term.

What Should Be The Roadmap For NYC Building Owners Now?

Check for Energy Leaks: 

Owners should evaluate the building enclosure to identify areas to improve performance. However, do so before spending a lot of money on costly HVAC overhauls to reduce emissions. The system has to work harder to maintain the building’s comfort if its cooling and heating functions are practically disappearing.

Add in the New Energy/Green Roof Requirements:

The requirement for vegetated and/or solar photovoltaic assemblies may apply to anyone contemplating roof assembly or roof deck replacements, building additions, or new construction projects. Owners should consult a design expert to find out what might be needed.

Look at Financing Alternatives and Rewards:

Owners can investigate PACE finance, green roof tax reductions, and other incentives to see the options available for the required renovations.

New policies and explanations will likely be released once they find the location to set up the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance. Currently, the best course of action for building owners is to monitor the emerging Climate Mobilization Act and its effects on their facilities. They can do so by maintaining communication with the help of Local Law 97 compliance consulting firms like us.

What Are The Chances of Local Law 97 To Lower Emissions As a Whole In NYC?

In the wake of these disputes, the Department of Buildings will review all of the feedback and consider it when drafting the regulations that will be published in relation to Local Law 97 at the end of the year. 

But the discussion around Local Ordinance 97 raises an important question: how successful will the local ordinance be in lowering construction emissions throughout the city?

While Local Law 97 is a fine place to start, it shouldn’t be the final piece of legislation in the fight to lower emissions produced by New York City buildings. This is because the hundreds of thousands of smaller residences and companies in NYC will not be covered by or find success with Local Law 97.

For instance, 89% of the approximately 220,000 small enterprises in New York City employ fewer than 20 people. Just consider this: how many little obscure bakeries, pizzerias, or bagel shops are more than 25,000 square feet? Are most of the walk-up buildings in East Village or Chinatown sufficiently large to hold flats totaling 25,000 square feet? 

The shockingly obvious answer to both of these inquiries is no. Still, it makes sense that NYC is focusing on large-scale property emissions first because their owners have the time, money, and means to upgrade their buildings’ energy efficiency. In contrast, smaller apartment buildings or business owners do not.

Also Read: Organizations should act now on Local Law 87

So, To Summarize… 

Nevertheless, Local Law 97 will unavoidably impact the city’s emissions because, compared to your favorite bagel store in the city, these massive buildings over 25,000 square feet will undoubtedly emit greater carbon emissions. 

Ultimately, the criticism and ongoing discussions surrounding Local Law 97 are legitimate. Still, it is important to work through them since New York City has ambitious emission reduction targets that would not be achievable without legislation like Local Law 97, which incentivizes buildings to upgrade for energy efficiency.

Seek Professional Assistance From The Cotocon Group

If you’re interested in lowering your carbon emissions to protect your assets, boost your property value and avoid fines, The Cotocon Group can assist you! Be at ease—we are here to assist! So, schedule a demo and obtain individualized guidance on how different environmental laws and regulations will affect your property and how to reduce your building’s environmental impact and emissions to get compliance solutions. We can assist you in improving your building’s environmental performance, beginning with a carbon footprint assessment to determine how much carbon emissions it creates.

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