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What you Need to Know About Complying with NYC's Local Law 97 (Part 1)

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

So, you’ve heard about NYC’s Infamous LL97, but you're not sure how to comply? In this 2-part blog, I will provide some insight into the bigger picture, how to understand just how much work your building needs to meet compliance, and provide a few updates. In part 2 I’ll break down how to start taking action in digestible steps. In both, I’ll touch on a couple other laws that are worth noting.

Energy used in buildings account for over 2/3 of NYC's greenhouse gas emissions
Energy used in buildings account for more than 2/3 of NYC's greenhouse gas emissions

If you have been following New York City climate action at all, you’ve likely heard the phrase ‘Local Law 97.’ It is a hot topic in the real estate industry and often triggers some sort of emotion. Well, that’s because it’s kind of a big deal! While mayors across the country have voluntarily committed to upholding the Paris agreement in their cities, New York City is one of the only cities with action and substantial penalties tied to carbon reduction goals.

While it is a big deal, determining how to comply with Local Law 97 and other notable climate laws doesn’t have to be a pain.

The basic premise behind LL97 is that all buildings over 25,000 square feet (with some exception) are required to meet carbon emissions caps, in kg CO2e/square feet of building, for your building type starting in the calendar year 2024. That means annual net emissions for 2024 and subsequent years must be at or below the limit. If your building’s emissions are over the limit, there is a fine of $268 per metric ton CO2e over.

With just this basic understanding of the law, the following sections provide some actionable steps and insight into your unique building’s needs.

Understand how your building is currently performing relative to Local Law 97:

1. Are you responsible for taking action and paying the potential LL97 fines? Do you own your building? If you do not, then as of now you are off the hook. However, you can be a model tenant, help your landlord and save yourself money if you act towards reducing your energy use, and thereby greenhouse gas emissions, anyway.

2. Is your building required to meet the law? Most buildings over 25,000 sf within the 5 boroughs are required to do so. Check the detailed requirements of covered buildings here. A good rule of thumb is that if your building must comply with LL84, the benchmarking law, it must comply with LL97.

3. What is your building’s curr