NYC Local Law 87

NYC LL87 – Energy Audit and Retro-commissioning

Process & Benefits of Energy Audits and Retro-Commissioning


Local Law 87 mandates for buildings over 50,000 square feet to perform energy audits & retro-commissions periodically as part of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. The law intends for building owners to remain informed about their energy consumption patterns so as to ideally maximize energy efficiency and slash carbon emissions.

The basic requirements of the law are:-

  1. Determining how and when a building needs to comply.
  2. Conducting an energy audit & retro-commissioning of all the systems mandatorily which will enable the owners to submit the Energy Efficiency Report. The report is to be compulsorily submitted to the City once every ten years.

An energy audit is the identification, survey, and analysis of the energy usage of a building which is carried out to optimize its efficiency. In other words, it helps maintain the same level of output while minimizing consumption. It also guarantees a reduction in terms of cost to the building owner and carbon footprint to the planet, respectively.

Energy audits are performed to maximize cost-effectiveness prioritizing health, safety & comfort. Experts complete a comprehensive diagnosis using cutting-edge technology to thoroughly evaluate & rectify the situation at hand. These are mandated to be performed by highly trained contractors as they own the necessary knowledge and skill set to precisely estimate potential savings.

The process of energy audits involves two simple steps:-

Walk Through Analysis: Energy Auditor inspection & Interview

Here, the auditor performs multiple tests of the entire building, takes the needed measurements, and interviews building owners and occupants alike to gauge an in-depth understanding of the Operations & Maintenance (O&M)— all to identify the energy-saving opportunities. This barely takes two-four hours.

Energy Surgery & Analysis: Report & Implementation

After comprehensively evaluating the measurements, the auditor describes the “problematic areas” and offers suitable recommendations which accommodate ongoing business operations based on occupant tendencies.

Energy audits help enhance the overall performance of the building, address code issues, extend equipment life-cycle, increase asset value and also minimize operational risk. More importantly, energy audits should not be looked at as a one-time thing but ideally be inculcated as a practice best conducted regularly to impact businesses for the better. It’s imperative to understand these interventions as an investment (that pays for itself by the way) rather than a mere financial or compliance burden.

Retro-commissioning is a systematic process to enhance a building’s current performance by recognizing operational improvements to ultimately save on energy. The process can be performed in isolation or ideally, along with retrofitting.  As per the Portland Energy Conservation Inc., energy savings typically range from anywhere between 5-20% with paybacks made within a year.

Retro-commissioning consists of four phases – Planning phase, where the building systems that are to be analyzed are identified, following which operations of those systems are designed as the second phase. The third phase is where the implementation is carried out wherein the direst deficiencies are checked and the previously curated operations are verified. Lastly in the hands-off phase, improvements are finally recorded and reported, along with the executives being taught how to sustain those.

Energy audits and retro-commissioning help in:-

  1. Reducing energy expenses: The most immediate and apparent benefit is reduced energy expenditure. From problems as small as air leaks that usually go unnoticed but continue to burn pockets, to dangerous health risks instigated by carbon monoxide emissions released by faulty equipment are corrected.
  2. Increasing property value: Incorporating recommendations rendered by the experts ultimately makes the building more efficient which increases the property’s worth. Planting solar panels, LEDs, performing weatherization does not just make the building greener and more efficient, but also hotter on the market.
  3. Showing environmental concern: Showing some amount of environmental concern is required from businesses, buildings and all entities now not only from a brand-building point of view, although that’s non-negotiable, also to genuinely address the rocketing carbon levels.
  4. Increasing employee comfort: Checking faulty insulation, air sealing, lighting, air quality levels, etc also helps in increasing employee comfort and health which most definitely boosts their productivity. So not only is your building making more business but it’s also helping employees facilitate it.

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