Local Law 97 FAQs

May 21, 2021

In 2019 the City of New York enacted The Climate Mobilization Act, the cornerstone of which is Local Law 97 (LL97),  an ambitious new law that sets emissions caps for buildings larger than 25,000 square feet. This goal includes reducing carbon emissions to the following:

By 2030 – reduction goal = 40%  

By 2050 – reduction goal = 80% 

For more information on how you can prepare your building for this upcoming deadline, check out our recent post.

As we help buildings prepare for the upcoming deadlines, here are some of the frequently asked questions and answers we have come across:

What does LL97 require and when?
Local Law 97 of 2019 requires Buildings over 25,000 square feet to meet annual carbon intensity limits during each compliance period based on building type. It sets detailed requirements for 2024-2029 and 2030-2034 compliance periods and requires the City to clarify the requirements for future periods through 2050. This will cut carbon emissions from affected buildings at least 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
Don’t panic – 80 percent of buildings impacted by this legislation are already performing within their 2024 targets today.

How many buildings will be affected by this legislation?

  • Covered Buildings under LL97
  • New York City’s Local Law 97 of 2019 applies to, or “covers’, more than 24,000 buildings throughout the five Boroughs.

“Covered Buildings” generally means:

  • A building that exceeds 25,000 gross square feet, or
  • Two or more buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 50,000 gross square feet, or
  • Two or more buildings held in the condominium form of ownership that are governed by the same board of managers and that together exceed 50,000 gross square feet.
  • City owned building (NYC owned buildings have a differing path to compliance).
  • A housing development or building on land owned by the New York City Housing Authority (These properties have a differing path to compliance).
  • Rent regulated accommodations, buildings with less than 35% rent regulated units are covered and those with more than 35% have prescriptive requirements (These properties have a differing path to compliance).

Buildings that are not “covered” include:

  • Electrical generating and steam plants
  • Buildings of not more than three stories with no HVAC system or hot water heating system serving more than two dwelling units
  • Real estate owned by any religious corporation and used exclusively as a place of worship
  • Property owned by a housing development fund company pursuant to article eleven of the private housing finance law.

What is the first step a building owner should take?
The NYC Benchmarking Law, Local Law 84 of 2009 as amended by Local Law 133 of 2016, requires owners of buildings that meet the criteria outlined in the law to annually measure their energy and water consumption through a process called benchmarking. The law standardizes this process by requiring building owners to utilize the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) online benchmarking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager®, to enter and submit the usage data to the City by May 1st of every year. This data increases transparency regarding properties’ annual energy and water usage.

We can help you get started with an assessment of your building. HLZAE can:

  • Determine if you are in compliance.
  • Find the carbon emissions limit for your building.
  • Calculate any penalties that would be forthcoming if you are not in compliance.

What if I do not comply?
Buildings must pay annual fines of $268 per metric ton that their carbon footprint exceeds the limit. There are also fines for not submitting a report (.50 per building square foot, per month).

How do I calculate the estimated LL97/19 annual carbon emissions limit penalty?
Call HLZAE at 212-564-9393 and we can help you.

How do I reduce my carbon emissions and prepare for compliance?
While the details are still being worked out within the law, 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
  • Building envelope integrity and insulation

Are there any financing options to help pay for this work?
PACE – Property Assessed Clean Energy
Website: Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing
• “PACE eligibility is based primarily on the equity value of the subject building. This makes the application and approval process generally easier than more traditional loan products.
• PACE loans often have superior interest rates and loan maturities making for smaller payments than traditional loans.
• PACE loans are paid right along with property tax payments. Borrowers make one convenient payment. Like tax assessments, PACE loans do not accelerate and remain with the building upon transfer.
• PACE loans can fund up to 100% of the project costs, more than traditional loan option.”

NYSERDA – New York state Energy Research and Development Authority:
Website: NYSERDA Energy Programs and Incentives
• “NYSERDA has several programs that help you lower your home or business’s energy bills, reduce your environmental impact, and/or support clean energy and transportation in New York State.”

Website: ConEdison Rebates
• “Energy efficiency incentives for homeowners, multifamily buildings, and business customers.”

Does HLZAE provide the Energy Audit required for PACE financing and what does it entail?
HLZAE conducts an ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) Level 2 audit of your property. An ASHRAE Level 2 audit is for those businesses wishing to improve energy efficiency, hone in on how the whole building is functioning, and identify the projects that will provide the greatest energy reduction at the best return on investment.

The ASHRAE Level 2 Audit consists of:

  • Interviewing key operations personnel.
  • Reviewing facility utility bills
  • Walking through the site
  • Heating, plumbing, electrical, and exterior wall systems (windows/façade) are analyzed for inefficiencies.

The building’s energy consumption is broken down by end-use, helping to identify the areas with the greatest opportunities for improved efficiency. Utility rates are analyzed to see if there are opportunities to secure a lower rate. Heating, plumbing, electrical, and exterior wall systems are analyzed for efficiencies.

What is the NYSERDA FlexTech Program?
Website: NYSERDA FlexTech Program
The NYSERDA Flexible Technical Assistance Program (FlexTech) helps you by sharing the cost to produce an objective, site-specific, and targeted study on how best to implement clean energy and/or energy efficiency technologies. A NYSERDA FlexTech consultant works with you to complete the energy study.

To clarify, HLZA is not a FlexTech consultant under the NYSERDA program. However, we certainly employ the necessary resources in-house to undertake this analysis and guide you and your stakeholders correctly to navigate LL 97, and make recommendations for future upgrades that will place you in a better place with the upcoming law milestones.

If your building needs help preparing for the upcoming deadlines, HLZAE is here to help:

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