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By: Sergio Silveira

October 28th, 2022

What Is Local Law 97 And How Will It Affect Where I live In New York City?

In order to better understand what Local Law 97 is, we need to understand how and why it came about. 

This law actually arises from a generally unknown and rather astounding fact. We, New Yorkers, are accustomed to spending our lives in one of the world’s most densely built urban environments. We live inside and are surrounded by countless buildings of all heights and sizes. Yet, it would likely come as a surprise to most of us that these very buildings—where we live, work, learn, and enjoy ourselves—account for a whopping 71% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing even transportation emissions! 

So, in 2019, the New York City Council passed The NYC Climate Mobilization Act (CMA), which aims to effectively and significantly address that issue. Also known as NYC’s Green New Deal, it comprises several laws aiming to reduce New York City’s building carbon or greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050.  It couldn’t be any more fitting that the most important city in the world—economically, culturally and with the biggest concentration of large buildings, passed the largest and most ambitious climate legislation of any city on our planet. This law affects 50,000 of New York City’s 1 million buildings. 

But How Does CMA Go About Reducing Buildings Carbon Emissions?

CMA requires that owners of residential and commercial buildings over 25,000 square feet in size, invest in renovation and retrofitting to make their buildings more energy efficient, and eventually meet the emissions caps that have been established. What is the estimated cost for New York City‘s building owners? The cost is estimated at $4 billion USD, but some of those costs, it is believed, will likely create future energy savings for these buildings. 

What Are Some Of The Building Retrofits That Need To Be Done To Make A Building More Energy Efficient And In Compliance With Local Law 97?

Buildings can consider abiding by the new law by investing in better-insulated windows, dimmable lights, more efficient air conditioners, and heating systems. 

How Do I Find Out If My Building Is Required To Do Such Retrofits?

The first threshold to be considered is the building size: over 25,000 SF.

Once your building meets that first threshold, LL 97 set two initial phases of emissions caps or limits for your and every other eligible building.

The first phase begins in 2024 and continues until 2029, while the second, more stringent, phase will take place in 2030-2034. The caps or limits were set based on several different building use classifications and sizes. 

But How Do I Know Where My Building Presently Stands Vis-à-vis The New Emission Requirements?

A good place to check is the Building Energy Exchange (be-exchange.org/calculator/).  Your building’s yearly emissions reports should already be there, as required by the previously enacted Local Law 84, which requires that all eligible buildings submit these annual energy audits.

If your building has not submitted these reports, an engineering firm should be engaged to perform a LL97 energy audit.

How Is This Calculated And Determined?

The emissions intensity limits set by Local Law 97 were determined for 10 classifications of buildings based on Building Code occupancy groups. A building’s annual emissions limit is its emissions intensity limit multiplied by floor area. Below is an example of a building Carbon Emissions Calculator result for a pre-war building (Bldg. A as an example) that is just above 25,000sf in size:

Local Law 97

What Are The Penalties For Non-Compliance?

The penalty for not complying with LL 97 is a fine, calculated by taking the difference between a building’s annual allowable emissions limit and its actual emissions, then multiplying the difference by $268 / sf.  The law establishes a fine of $268.00 for each metric ton of CO2 a building emits which is over the allowable amount established for each year.  For example, the building referenced above (Bldg. A), is comprised of 22,483 SF of residential apartments on the 2nd through 7th floors (Occupancy Group R-2) and the ground floor features a 3,000 SF restaurant (Occupancy Group A). Based on the building occupancy, the allowable GHG emissions for this property are calculated as follows:

Occupancy Group
Emissions Limit
Gross Floor Area
Total GHG’s
0.01074 (tCO2e/sf)
3,000 sf
0.00675 (tCO2e/sf)
22,483 sf
Total Allowable GHG Emissions:

The building has been filing its annual energy benchmarking reports in accordance with Local Law 84 and the latest GHG emissions report indicates a total of 346 tCO2e/yr which is 162 tCO2e/yr over the 2024 – 2029 allowable limits. The LL97 penalty assessment for this property would be as follows:

Current GHG Emissions = 346 tCO2e/yr (162 tCO2e/yr over allowable)

Fine Assessment: 162 tCO2e/yr x $268.00 = $43,416.00 / year

The allowable GHG emissions are decreased to 104 tCO2e/yr for the second phase of LL97 in the years 2030 – 2034.  The penalty for this property would increase to $65,000 / year if no energy conservation measures are implemented to reduce the current amount of annual GHG emissions.


How Sullivan Engineering, A Rimkus Company Can Help

Sullivan Engineering (Rimkus) offers a program to perform a comprehensive analysis of both the building mechanical systems and envelope assemblies which is what is needed to provide the owners with the most wholistic view of where energy is being lost and what steps may be taken in carefully planned, incremental phases to bring their property into compliance with the forthcoming LL97 regulations.

Sullivan Engineering has been a New York and national engineering leader in the field of building envelope assessment, inspection, and restoration, and we bring those years of expertise with us to guide and support you and your building on how to most effectively and economically meet your LL97-compliance needs.

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About Sullivan Engineering, A Rimkus Company

Sullivan Engineering provides high-quality building envelope restoration and compliance solutions.

We partner with facilities managers and account executives to provide technical expertise and project management for building envelope restoration, compliance, and maintenance.

Our solutions reduce the overall building life cycle maintenance costs by creating long-lasting, high-quality work for years to come.