16 Apr NYC Local Law 97 & 147 of 2019 – Carbon Emissions
What is NYC Local Law 97?
Beginning in 2024, buildings over 25,000 square feet will have to meet carbon emissions limits based on the facility’s occupancy group type. The New York City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act, which is an ambitious package of legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% by 2050. This “Green New Deal” will take effect in 2024 and is comprised of eleven pieces of legislation, but the centrepiece is the carbon emissions limits law for large NYC buildings (Local Law 97 of 2019).
Each building within New York City has a different zoning designation. This designation, in turn, determines what emissions level are permissible. These emissions caps are intended for buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet in space. Any building less than 25,000 square feet in space is exempt from the law. Carbon emissions must be reduced by up to 40% by 2030 and up to 80% by 2050.
Why the Law was Enacted
Buildings are responsible for a large portion of greenhouse gas production in the United States due to their reliance on energy produced by fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the primary greenhouse gases; therefore, carbon dioxide and equivalents (CO2e), a consequence of hydrocarbon fuels including fossil fuels, serve as the basis for measuring the impact of all GHG. In NYC, large commercial buildings account for 65% of the city’s annual CO2 emissions. The new law forces owners of existing buildings to act now to reduce their property’s carbon emissions.
Technical Amendments of the Law and NYC Local Law 147 of 2019
After passing LL97, City Council later passed technical amendments to the building emissions law under Local Law 147 of 2019 and Local Law 95 of 2020, including:
- Clarification that the Department of Buildings can revise 2030 standards by rule, including using a different metric.
- Carbon emissions from electricity can now be based on time of use.
- Credits for GHG offsets and energy storage will extend to later compliance periods.
- Some previously exempt affordable housing must now comply with the prescriptive package of low-cost energy savings measures.
- Revisions to the treatment of natural gas fuel cells.
What happens if I am non-compliant with the law?
Local law 97 will impose harsh financial penalties for building owners that are not compliant with the law. The penalty is $268 per metric ton over the allotted limit. As in 2030, the building emissions targets are expected to increase even more so the financial burden would become greater to ensure compliance with the law. Due to this, it is imperative to start making plans to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure compliance with the law as soon as possible.
- Reducing emissions from a building can take years, especially for properties in the top 20% of emitters.
- Most measures that reduce emissions also improve energy efficiency, reducing the operating cost of a building.
Every building is unique, and an energy audit is strongly recommended to identify the most effective energy efficiency measures. However, upgrades that focus on HVAC installations and lighting systems are effective in most residential and commercial buildings.
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