Climate Mobilization Act NYC

Back to the 90’s – The Climate Mobilization Act

The Climate Mobilization Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation enacted in May of 2019. It was designed to reduce New York City’s overall greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (2030), and upto 80% (2050). With being one year closer to the CMA, it’s high time the city is well prepared to act on the commitments.


GHG is the primary driver of the unprecedented rate at which climate change is taking place. Reducing emissions thus, from buildings is most significant as buildings contribute nearly three quarters of citywide emissions owing to the consumption pattern vis-a-vis electricity use, HVAC, etc,. The legislation with its package of bills aims to evolve these consumption patterns for optimum efficiency and via cleaner energy sources.


To facilitate the ambitious goal, a series of bills were passed. The centerpiece of the legislation is Local Law 97, among other laws. This is the part of the bill which specifically mandates what the greenhouse emissions limits are for each building type. More than 50,000 buildings will get impacted overall. In 2024, about 25% of those will be directly affected by the carbon emissions limit and practically every building in NYC by 2030. A typical commercial office building in midtown Manhattan of 250,000 sq ft. producing over 1.5 tons of stipulated carbon limits will be looking at a fine of over $100,000, and progressively for each year that follows.


Local Law 97 was enacted in 2019 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 to be way over permissible limits requiring immediate intervention with retrofitting and alternative compliance.


Non-compliance is tied to harsh financial penalties that get worse over time. For example, a 1 million sq ft commercial office building which is just 10% above the 2024 carbon limit will be looking at a penalty of about $230,000 every year till 2029. From 2029-2030, the permissible carbon limit will be further reduced by a staggering 50% equating to a $1,200,000 penalty every year till 2034.

In addition to Local Law 97, the following laws have been passed under CMA to ensure well-rounded and holistic accomplishment.

1. Local Law 92 & 94 : these laws mandate green architecture on all new construction or renovation of a certain scale in NYC, in the form of green roofs, wind power and solar pv.


2. Local law 95: the law enables better-suited labels. It guides in adjusting metrics that are used for letter grades to assess a building’s energy performance.


3. Local law 96 – PACE: The law helps establish clean energy financial tools for building owners by laying the groundwork for Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE). The program is a way of financing retrofits for the buildings to be able to comply with LL97.


4. Local Law 98: The law obligates the Department of Buildings to include wind energy generation in its toolbox of renewable energy technologies. The Climate Mobilization Act impacts multiple stakeholders in NYC’s real estate marketplace. To remain ahead of the curve and protected from having to bear heavy penalties, seeking expert consultancy is best recommended.

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