20 May Why NYC Building Owners Need To Say No to Carbon Emissions!
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 up to 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-à-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.
Which buildings does it cover?
Commercial buildings over 25,000 square feet or more and two or more buildings on the same tax plot that together exceed 50,000 square feet.
- Buildings owned by New York City and/or owned by New York City Housing Council (NYCHC)
- Houses of worship/ places of religious affiliations
- properties owned by a housing development fund company organized pursuant to the New York State Business Corporation Law and Article XI of the New York State Private Housing Finance Law
- Buildings with one rent-regulated dwelling unit
- Industrial facilities that cater to electric power and steam needs
- Multi-family facilities of 3 stories or less that do not share HVAC/heating systems
- Gov-subsidized housing facilities (these are exempted from the law until 2035)
Exempted buildings that still require certain compliance
Houses of worship, and subsidized and rent-regulated facilities stand exempt from the annual emissions limit; they are still required to take energy conservation measures mentioned below.
- Adjusting temperature setpoints for heat and hot water to reflect appropriate space occupancy and facility requirements;
- Repairing all heating system leaks
- Maintaining the heating system, including but not limited to ensuring that system component parts are clean and in good operating condition
- Installing individual temperature controls or insulated radiator enclosures with temperature controls on all radiators;
- Insulating all pipes for heating and/or hot water
- Insulating the steam system condensate tank or water tank
- Installing indoor and outdoor heating sensors and boiler controls to allow for proper set-points;
- Replacing or repairing all steam traps such that all are in working order;
- Installing or upgrading steam system master venting at the ends of mains, large horizontal pipes, and tops of risers, vertical pipes branching off a main;
- Upgrading lighting to comply with the standards for new systems set forth in new standards
- Weatherizing and air sealing where appropriate, including windows and ductwork, with a focus on whole-building insulation;
- Installing timers on exhaust fans
- Installing radiant barriers behind all radiators.
How to calculate your building’s fine and emissions limit?
-Convert the building’s carbon footprint from Kg to metric tons by dividing by 1,000
-Multiply the difference between the limit and your actual carbon footprint by $268
As far as the emissions limits go, if you have a Business Building which falls under Group B, then it is to be subjected to 0.00846 tCO2e/SF (2024-29).
We understand how overwhelming this might seem, we highly recommend reaching out to experts like The Cotocon Group that can hand-hold you through the entire process.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Non-compliance is tied to harsh financial penalties that get worse over time. For example, a 1 million sq ft commercial office building that is just 10% above the 2024 carbon limit will be looking at a penalty of about $230,000 every year till 2029. From 2029 to 2030, the permissible carbon limit will be further reduced by a staggering 50% equating to a $1,200,000 penalty every year till 2034.
For failing to even file the report, there is a $0.50 per gross square foot, which comes up to $12,500 per month. Fines are also designated for submitting false reports.
1. 2024-2029 penalty = 54.1 tCO2e x $268/t = $14,498.80 / year
2. 2030-2034 penalty = 1,233.1 tCO2e x $268/t = $330,470.80 / year
Best practices recommended that aid compliance
Compliance is not an immediate or limited time frame method, keen steps need to be taken from the get-go and building owners must be conscious of incorporating sustainable narratives at each and every step.
We recommend looking into the following:-
- Improvements to HVAC and lighting systems
- Add exterior insulation, better windows, and air sealing
- Conversion to heat pumps for heat and hot water Investments in carbon-free power
- Training building operations staff on energy efficiency best practices
- Tenant engagement and coordination (green leases)
- Hiring a consultant to audit and identify equipment for replacement and potential upgrades to save energy on the building’s heating, cooling, and lighting systems.
We, The Cotocon Group, have a proven history of providing compliance services in New York City to building owners that helps acquire LEED certifications of all categories. Our highly skilled team ensures building owners meet all the requirements from strategizing, budgeting, and handling documentation along with curating the information that needs to be shared by conducting energy audits and retro-commissioning to generating and submitting the Energy Efficiency Report within the deadline.