Green House Gas Emissions – Measure – Manage – Act
Approximately 50,000 buildings larger than 25,000 square feet are responsible for 40% of New York City’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This is not only a problem found in New York City. In fact, the built environment is one of the major emitters of the greenhouse gas of carbon across the world.
To tackle this problem, buildings need to become more sustainable and environmentally responsible, which is why in May of 2019 New York City passed the Climate Mobilization Act.
NYC Local Law 97 of 2019
On May 18, the City of New York enacted Local Law 97 of 2019 — the most ambitious climate legislation for buildings enacted by any city in the world. The new law places buildings on a path to reduce overall carbon emissions 80% by 2050 (80 x 50 Goal). Buildings, of all sizes, represent nearly 70% of the City’s emissions.
Requiring that buildings do their part to meet 80 x 50’s GHG reduction goals, Local Law 97 outlines two introductory compliance phases, with an initial period beginning 2024-2029. While some Climate Mobilization Act specifics are set to be determined by the new department, initial compliance limits are fairly rigid, and are set to target New York City buildings with the highest emissions intensity levels. Limits for the second compliance period of 2030-2034, are in line with the City’s interim emissions reduction goal of 40% by 2030 (40 x 30). The Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance will have some discretion in determining the compliance path and the carbon calculation process through the rulemaking process, but the 40% reduction limit is explicit in the legislation, with a requirement that any adjustments to emissions limits be at least as stringent as those laid out in the bill.
Simply put, if you own a building larger than 25,000 sq.ft., you need to measure your GHG emissions – through benchmarking – to analyze, manage, and potentially make improvements to comply with Local Law 97 of 2019.
How Will NYC Measure Carbon Emissions from Buildings?
As part of PlaNYC 2030, a building’s reported ENERGY STAR benchmarking score will be part of the public record. The City will utilize these reports – beginning in 2024 and submitted by owners/representatives – to verify if emission levels are in compliance. All NYC buildings 25,000 sq.ft. and larger have been required, since 2013, to annually conduct ENERGY STAR benchmarking for Local Law 84 and Local Law 133 (LL84 / LL133).
If you have not complied with these NYC benchmarking laws or worried your information has not been reported accurately, The Cotocon Group specializes in ENERGY STAR Benchmarking and can immediately help.
How Do I Measure My Building’s Carbon Emissions and Know If I Comply?
Step 1 – Measure and analyze carbon intensity by benchmarking energy consumption through the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Local Law 84 and Local law 133 (LL84 / LL133) requires benchmarking annually for buildings 25,000 sq.ft. and larger. The Cotocon Group specializes in NYC Benchmarking Compliance
Step 2 – Calculate if you’re in compliance with Local Law 97. Convert your building’s carbon footprint from Kg to metric tons by dividing by 1,000 and compare to limit determined by LL97 for your building’s occupancy group
Step 3 – If your building is over the limit and not in compliance, calculate the penalty you will receive to be prepared. Multiply the difference between the limit and your actual carbon footprint (determined in step 2) by $268.
How Do I Reduce My Carbon Emissions and Prepare for Compliance?
Buildings should begin developing long-term energy and carbon reduction strategies as soon as possible to meet emissions performance targets. This process takes time and to be successful, requires input from numerous stakeholders including tenants, building operations, ownership, and management. A carbon mitigation plan should be developed to evaluate all potential energy and carbon reduction initiatives in the near, medium, and long term:
- Base building HVAC
- Common area lighting
- Sensors and controls
- Tenant lighting, plug loads and HVAC
- Retail and ground-floor tenants
- Operator and occupant training
If you are completing or recently completed your Local Law 87 energy audits, that’s a great place to start. If you haven’t completed Local Law 87 yet, contact The Cotocon Group, we are experienced with handling all aspects of LL87 for every type of building.
What About Tenants Who Account for a Majority the Building’s Energy Use?
The energy consumption of tenants contributes substantially to overall energy use and can, therefore, account for large savings opportunities. Reducing your building’s overall energy and carbon intensity will not be possible without collaboration with all stakeholders, particularly the tenants. Meet with tenants to discuss energy efficiency and also discuss energy upgrades that can be performed mid-lease that could lower their energy bills. NYSERDA has an incentive program, the Commercial Tenant Program, that will pay for some or all of the cost of identifying energy reduction opportunities in new and existing tenants’ spaces. The Cotocon Group is an approved vendor for NYSERDA’s Commercial Tenant Program.
As reported by The New York Times, Mark Chambers, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said that while the cumulative cost for building owners to make the retrofits would go over $4 billion, they would later recover that spent money in reduced operating expenses.
In the first few years of the law, the fines will be significant but manageable for most but not all buildings “Partial compliance with the law is possible to minimize the fines. But by 2030 the emission limits will drop sharply, and without very significant financing and technical assistance, the fines could become unmanageable for some buildings.”
New York City is now at a crossroads: it can either continue its current energy infrastructure or find new and clean ways to generate energy without making its citizens sick from harmful toxins. The main goal of these laws is not to punish the small building owners or co-ops, but to reduce the immense amounts of greenhouses gases produced by a disproportionately small share of buildings – to provide a better future for all New Yorkers.
Green House Gas Emissions – Measure Manage Act