The NYC Climate Mobilization Act, particularly Local Law 97 of 2019 (Bill 1253) is focused on carbon reduction, and it has many wondering if they should wait or act immediately. You don’t need to make major changes right away, but don’t wait, especially if you are above the limits set for the 2024 deadline.

While the process of getting there is not determined yet, the limits have been set. Develop a plan now!

Local Law 97 of 2019 sets detailed requirements for 2024-2029 and 2030-2034 and requires the City to clarify the requirements for future periods through 2050. Buildings over 25,000 square feet must meet annual carbon intensity limits during each compliance period based on building type.

The City has set very steep fines for buildings that do not comply. Buildings must pay $268 per metric ton that their carbon footprint exceeds the limit, annually.  There are also fines for not submitting a report (.50 per building square foot, per month).

In September 2023, it was proposed that landlords who make a “good faith effort” to comply with Local Law 97 legislation by 2024 will receive leeway — which will come in the form of lower penalties and an additional two years to comply. Landlords must include a plan for decarbonization in the long term, which must be submitted no later than May 1, 2025. This must be included upon submission of the annual compliance report, which details lighting upgrades alongside water and energy use.

The 2024 and 2030 emissions limits will impact the worst 20% and 75%, respectively — so an average building will meet the initial 2024 requirements. However, said average buildings will need to reduce emissions to meet the more stringent 2030 limits.  But that doesn’t mean that building owners can sit back and do nothing for the next few years.  Identifying and implementing energy upgrades is a multi-year process, and even if you plan to sell the building before 2030, buyers will start to bake in the costs associated with meeting the emissions limits, so building owners should start planning for compliance now.

With all of the Local Law 97 mechanisms now in place, all buildings should start putting together a long-term energy strategy focused on carbon reduction that will meet or exceed the emissions performance targets.  This process takes time and might seem daunting. This will require input from key stakeholders (internal and external experts), tenants, building operations, ownership and management.

A proper energy and carbon management plan should evaluate all potential energy and carbon reduction initiatives in the near and long-term:

  • Base building HVAC
  • Common area lighting
  • Sensors and controls
  • Tenant lighting and HVAC

Local Law 87 can be very helpful to you. If you are completing (or recently completed) your Local Law 87 energy audits, this can be a good place to start. If you haven’t started Local Law 87, ask Donnelly Mechanical (or your provider) about longer term energy savings strategies in their analysis even if it raises the cost of the energy audit – it will be worth it as they will already be analyzing your systems looking for energy saving opportunities.

The energy consumed by your Tenants plays a major role in overall energy use. This directly relates to savings. Reducing your building’s overall energy and carbon intensity will not be possible without talking to your tenants. Meet with tenants to discuss energy efficiency when they are moving in and building out their spaces.  Also meet with existing tenants to discuss energy upgrades that can be performed mid-lease that could lower their energy bills.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Type

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