NYC Local Law 97 How to avoid penalties

How to Reduce Emission and Avoid Penalties Under Local Law 97?

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 being way over permissible limits requiring immediate intervention with retrofitting and alternative compliance.

There is no shortcut to this – you will have to reduce emissions, for compliance as well as for ensuring profits. The good news is that a singular strategy might work for all kinds of emissions because the sources that cause air pollution are also the sources behind accelerating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Not only that but tackling the urgent narratives of climate change can also be accomplished by reducing emissions.

However, as New Yorkers are akin to rather ambitious targets set out by the representatives, it becomes increasingly necessary to streamline our efforts. It is highly recommended that a backward approach be applied here. It’s best to achieve a reduction in emissions by expediting the preparedness for being able to comply with Local Law 97.

Here are the best 5 ways to reduce emissions:


1. Get an energy audit and building recommissioning

This is precisely the only way to track and rectify energy wastage in your building. This is also inevitably the first step towards energy efficiency for buildings. Reaching out to experts will help you quantify the excess wastage and devise a plan to check it immediately.

Recommission comprises an inspection of the building systems to ensure proper operation while adjusting sensors and controls. The biggest advantage is that you also meet the compliance requirements of Local Law 87, which demands these procedures at 10-year intervals. In addition, you will also be working towards a better grade under LL33.

2. Look into the materials being used

It’s called “materiality” and it is to do with the extraction, production, and transportation of the materials as they increase emissions. The steel industry is responsible for 30-40% of emissions, industrial, and cement, up to 19-20%. Manufacturers and environmental engineers have been attempting to mitigate the effects of the same through natural materials as opposed to using materials such as aluminum, plastics, and all kinds of foam insulations.

Carbon sequestration, which is a process of segregating and storing carbon in various forms and is executed in various ways, it is done much better with agricultural products. Therefore, consider wood, straw or even hemp.

3. Ensure the HVAC is updated and well maintained

HVAC makes for the lowest hanging fruit. It is responsible for around 40% of the carbon emissions. Thus, if efficiency is somehow incorporated into the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems then a substantial reduction in carbon footprint is guaranteed. The following are advised:-

– schedule pre-determined HVAC operations
– take care of outdoor ventilation, it’s usually ignored but is just as important
– do install sensors to save on power, plus smart tech is truly the future
– install a low-energy humidifier

4. Update your lighting

The usage of optimized lighting is non-negotiable, especially given the convenience. Lighting is known to account for approximately 40% of the building’s total energy used. As mentioned before, consider renewables like solar panels which will surely help you reduce your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

The most obvious way is to switch to LEDs and most LED projects are executed with the sole aim of saving on electricity. However, LED lights also bring in several safety benefits, which is why most audits will suggest switching up the lighting.

5. Regeneration and renewables!

See if your project allows for its electricity to be generated via renewables. Renewables include solar energy, hydropower generation, waste and biomass energy, and tidal or ocean energy. Renewables make for a brilliant alternative because unlike fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewables as a whole industry has been experiencing great popularity. Countries like Iceland and Costa Rica tend to get almost all of their electricity from alternative sources such as renewables. Meanwhile, other countries still function at a 5-10% usage of regenerative

How to Avoid Fines?


1. Adhere to the timeline

The building limits have been finalized for the year 2050, but the law still takes an incremental approach to carbon reduction by setting progressive, periodic goals. This means that the first two goals have been set for the years 2024-2029, and 2030-2034. For the following years of 2035-2050, the emissions limit will be set in 2023. The law requires that all buildings submit an energy report by May 1 every year which has the certification of an expert.

2. Not complying is more expensive

First of all, non compliance with Local Law 97 is a penal offense with fines designated by The City at $268 per metric ton for the exceeded carbon footprint! Defaulters will be fined also 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. From 2025 onwards, an emissions intensity report (sanctioned by a registered design professional) will need to be submitted as well.

Get Savvy to Measure and Verify Your Building's Emissions.