Carbon Footprint Challenges for NYC Commercial Buildings in 2020

Leaders of large cities are focusing more and more on introducing programs designed to evaluate and improve the impact their cities have on the environment. New York City was one of the first cities to begin taking action with the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP). Passed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2009, the GGBP’s goal is improving the efficiency and environmental sustainability of buildings throughout the city. There are many component laws of the GGBP, each potentially having consequences of varying degrees if not understood and adhered to.

What Are Some Component Laws of the GGBP That NYC Building Owners Should Be Knowledgeable About?

Local Law 84 requires that building owners submit benchmarking data to the city at an interval of once per year, by May 1st. The intent of this law is to increase transparency about energy and water usage, providing a path for owners to modernize their buildings. LL84, when originally written, applied to buildings over 50,000 square feet. Since then, the law has been amended to apply to buildings over 25,000 square feet. A fine of $500 will be assessed by the city each time a submittal deadline is missed. There are four submittal deadlines – May 1, August 1, November 1, February 1.

Local Law 97 builds on LL84 by defining strict limits on carbon emissions from buildings of various types. The law will go into effect in 2024. Between then and 2029, buildings will only be allowed to exhaust a certain level of carbon per square foot of floor space. Between 2030 and 2034, this carbon emissions limit will be reduced by more than half. The exact limit of emissions per square foot varies based on the building type, with medical offices being allowed the most emissions and storage facilities allowed the least. Your local HVAC service provider can consult with you to help determine the requirements for your building.

What Are NYC Energy Grades?

The energy grade system in NYC builds off of the data collected as part of Local Law 84. The city will require use of a tool called the Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Building owners will have to input water and energy use data, then the tool will compare the building to ones of similar size across the nation and assign a grade rating. An “A” rating is considered the best and most energy-efficient, while “D” is considered the worst. A higher rating can lead to higher property values, increased desirability from future tenants, and lower overall energy costs. The energy grading system applies to the same buildings that Local Law 84 does. An easy way to determine if these regulations apply to your building is by checking the annual list of covered buildings published by the city.

New York City’s new energy laws will hopefully have positive long-term effects on the city’s carbon footprint. In the short-term though, pressure is on building owners to make required upgrades to their buildings. Failure to comply can have negative consequences, up to and including fines from the city. Your professional, qualified HVAC service provider is your best resource for help understanding these laws, as well as with recommendations for upgrades to reduce your building’s carbon footprint, lower your energy costs and keep you in compliance.

Contact Donnelly Mechanical to learn how we help commercial building owners and managers like you to reduce your carbon footprint. Get ready for 2020 now.

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