New York City Climate Mobilization Act: Moving Towards a Sustainable Future

The New York City Council just passed the Climate Mobilization Act, a set of highly ambitious climate change laws that will significantly impact building owners in New York City. It’s centerpiece, NYC Local Law 97, mandates buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to meet strict greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limits starting in 2024. This new law is expected to reduce cumulative emissions from large buildings at least 40% citywide by 2030 through building retrofits, and 80 percent by 2050.

This Green New Deal places environmental sustainability on the national agenda for possibly the first time. New York’s state and city governments are doing far more than talking about climate change and environmental sustainability — they are doing something about it.

New NYC Local Laws from The Climate Mobilization Act:

 

LOCAL LAW 97 – GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS LIMITS

Beginning in 2024, buildings over 25,000 square feet will have to meet carbon emissions limits based on the facility’s occupancy group type.

LOCAL LAW 96 – PROPERTY ASSESSED CLEAN ENERGY (PACE) VOLUNTARY FINANCE PROGRAM

PACE will help building owners finance energy efficiency projects that are required by the new legislation in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions citywide.

LOCAL LAW 94 – GREEN ROOFS ON NEW CONSTRUCTION / LARGELY RENOVATED BUILDINGS

Calls for the inclusion of a green roofing zone in new construction and for buildings undergoing certain major renovations. This roofing zone must be comprised of a photo-voltaic (PV) electricity generating system (Solar Panels) or a green roof.

LOCAL LAW 95 – ADJUSTING ENERGY LETTER GRADE RANGES

Starting in 2020, buildings over 25,000 square feet must display energy grades at public entrances. This adjusted the new grading scale to a lower standard, making it easier for buildings to achieve higher grades.

LOCAL LAW 93 – POSTING INFORMATION ON INSTALLATION OF GREEN ROOFS

Requires the Office of Alternative Energy to post information on its website regarding the installation of green roofs and other resources and materials regarding green roof systems.

LOCAL LAW 92 – GREEN ROOFS ON SMALLER BUILDINGS

Mandates smaller buildings to comply with new green roof standards of Local Law 95 (see above).

Should Building Owners be worried about the Climate Mobilization act?

In New York City, buildings are responsible for nearly 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Focusing on the city’s largest buildings will promote energy efficiency, beneficial electrification, and renewable energy, while creating new and good-paying jobs for New Yorkers. It will also discourage continued reliance on polluting fossil fuels, cut down on harmful air pollution that causes respiratory illnesses, and save building owners money by lowering operating expenses.

For nearly 10 years, NYC has required owners of larger buildings over 50,000 square feet to self-report their energy consumption into an EPA Portfolio Manager, which generates a score from one to 100, but owners with low scores were not penalized.

By 2025, buildings over 25,000 gross square feet that currently have an energy score between one and 20, will likely receive a fine for poor energy consumption.

Avoid Penalties

To avoid penalties designed to “incentivize” building efficiencies, we recommend that building owners begin planning now.

Owners should consider making operational changes such as light retrofitting, lighting upgrades or potentially looking at controls and procedures. We, at The Cotocon Group, are experts in compliance with Local Laws and provide smart solutions to help building owners reduce energy use and save money.

“ENERGY STAR scores 30 and lower are pretty much destined for these carbon emissions fines. The fine is $268 per metric ton of carbon over the limit that the city determined for each building type. Looking at the thousands of buildings we’ve benchmarked, you see all building types are at risk. For example, you might have a 50,000 square foot multifamily running very inefficiently – with an energy score of three – in line for almost $100,000 in fines annually!”

– Jimmy Carchietta, LEED AP, CEO, The Cotocon Group

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