Greener, Greater Buildings Plan

Harkening calls to reduce New York City’s impact on the environment and role in climate change, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a goal in 2009 to reduce the city’s greenhouse emissions 30% by 2030.  Most of the city’s current GHG emissions—about three-quarters’ worth—currently come from buildings, however, making tackling current buildings’ energy efficiency a necessity.   To achieve Bloomberg’s ambitious goal, city legislature passed a set of four laws collectively known as the “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan” that encourages bigger buildings to improve their energy efficiency.  These regulations only apply to buildings larger than 50,000 gross square feet and two or more buildings on a single lot that are larger than 100,000 square feet combined.

Below are the four major laws:

Local Law 84

Under Local Law 84 (LL84), building owners must report how much energy and water their building uses to the EPA’s Energy Star database every year by May 1st.  This process, known as “benchmarking,” allows the city to assess and a track a given building’s energy expenditures to other, similar buildings in the area.

There’s no penalty for having a bad benchmark score per se—it’s simply for government collection.  That being said, benchmarking scores are public and can and do affect rent and sale prices.  Buildings’ scores are published online by the NYC Department of Finance for both the current year and past years.

Local Law 85

Previously, buildings only had to upgrade to meet New York’s Energy Conservation Construction Code if more than 50% of the building was undergoing renovation.  However, under LL85, all renovation projects, regardless of size, must comply with the energy code.  Historic buildings and landmarks are exempt.

Local Law 87

Under LL87, buildings bigger than 50,000 square feet and two or more buildings on a single lot that are larger than 100,000 square feet combined must submit an Energy Efficiency Report every ten years.   Filing the Energy Efficiency Report consists of two parts—an energy audit and a retro-commission.

Local Law 88

LL88 mandates that large buildings must update their lighting systems to meet NYC’s Energy Conservation Code by 2025.  In additions, the building must install sub-meters in each tenant space larger than 10,000 square feet.  Every month, the building has to issue the tenants a statement detailing the electricity consumption measured by that space’s sub-meter and the associated charge.


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