New York Local Law 97: Tips to Prepare for Compliance In 2024

Local Law 97 requires building owners to begin submitting compliance reports in 2024, here are 7 tips for preparing to comply and what you can do to start.

New York Local Law 97, signed in 2019 in New York City, is just one part of a larger global plan to reduce carbon emissions. With the buildings sector contributing nearly 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in NYC, building owners are chasing down methods to meet compliance limits starting in 2024. 

Luckily, complying with LL97 for the first round of carbon emission limits in 2024 won't be as tedious as the law has made it seem, but ensuring you get an early start will be crucial to being within limits in both 2024 and the succeeding years until 2030.

In this blog, we will highlight GHG limits that building owners in New York City must comply with starting in 2024 along with 7 things they can do to comply with Local Law 97. 

Local Law 97 Review: What is Local Law 97?

Local Law 97 was enacted with the ambitious goal to progressively reduce carbon emissions in New York City in the short and long term:: 

  • 40% carbon reduction from buildings by 2030
  • 80% reduction in citywide emissions by 2050

Many aspects of this law will take effect over time, with carbon caps increasing as time progresses and more stringent guidelines designed to meet a goal of net zero take effect. 

When Does Local Law 97 Take Effect?

These two goals will roll out in the following periods:

  • Initial Period: 2024-2029
  • Secondary Period: 2030-2050

In 2024 and beyond, building owners will be required to submit carbon emissions reports to The Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance (OBEEP). The Department of Buildings (DOB) has recently established emissions limits and has put forth guidelines for the following: 

  • Calculating and Reporting GHG Emissions
  • How to Treat Various Property Types 
  • Maximizing Emission Reductions 
  • Assisting Owners with Compliance 
  • Communications and Outreach
  • Achieving Consistency with LL97 and Other Regulations
  • Additional Analysis Recommendations 

These guidelines will be beneficial for New York City building owners to understand. 

Local Law 97 2024 Carbon Limits

In order to help reduce CO2 emissions by 40% in 2030, New York City Council has put forth emission limits and requirements for various building types. These limits are based on property types from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM) tool, and are outlined for the following buildings: 

NYC Local Law 97 Building Occupancy Types, Timeline, and CO2 Emission Limits

These carbon limits take effect in 2024 with reporting being mandated beginning May 1, 2025. Each year from 2025-2050, building owners will need to file a report with the Department of Buildings detailing their annual greenhouse gas emissions and have the report submitted by a Registered Design Professional — typically a Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA).

As you prepare for these reports and as carbon emission limits change, there are many things building owners can do to start mitigating the impact of increased energy usage and carbon production. 

7 Things You Can Do To Prepare For Your First LL 97 Report Submission

Setting out to reduce the city's buildings' emissions by 40% over the next 6-7 years is a lofty goal that will require a thorough review of a building's energy consumption and CO2 emissions. According to the law, every building covered will need to meet new energy efficiency standards. While it's important to ensure a building's emissions are within LL97 limits, it's even more important to know how you can begin to reduce emissions and the various resources and strategies available to help make an impact on climate. 

Benchmark Current Energy Usage and Carbon Emissions

In order to comply with new standards and carbon emission limits, you should first know where your building stands in comparison to those limits. Benchmarking a building's current energy usage and carbon emissions will be helpful as you prepare for LL97 because it will allow you to identify areas for improvement. Whether a building is consuming too much power in the summer to cool or is using too much heating oil in the winter, benchmarking the current state of your building will be essential in meeting LL97 targets.

Educate Yourself On Building CO2 Emission Limits

Understanding carbon emission limits is crucial in understanding how to comply with Local Law 97. By understanding CO2 limits, individuals and organizations can make informed decisions about how to reduce their carbon footprint and take action to transition towards more sustainable energy sources within commercial buildings. 

Local Law 97 considers five main energy sources when calculating carbon emissions. Here is a table outlining the five areas, their energy sources, and carbon intensity factors according to the EPA

Local Law 97 Emission Calculation Intensity Factors

Emissions from space heating and cooling depend on the source of fuel, with #4 fuel oil being the most pollutant and district steam being the least. 

Find Economical Ways To Reduce Energy Use

Preparing for LL97 could be as easy as finding economical ways to reduce energy use within a commercial building. Some companies, such as various hospitals in NYC, are participating in PlaNYC, a carbon drawdown challenge specifically involving facilities that are making it part of their company culture to look out for the environment and to care about the impact their office space has on the environment. While that may not be feasible everywhere, here are a few economical ways commercial buildings can reduce energy usage: 

  • Power management: using a tool such as an automated building management system to turn things off when not in use can reduce energy consumption in lighting or office equipment use 
  • Installing sensors: sensors can be used for a variety of things such as optimizing when a room’s lights are on based on occupancy or more efficiently controlling building comfort by enabling improved HVAC zone controls
  • Better lighting: LED bulbs can save up to 75% on energy costs 

Optimize Current Maintenance Procedures

Proper maintenance and optimization of HVAC systems can reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings and help reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Cooling and heating systems account for a significant portion of a building's energy consumption, and inefficient or poorly maintained systems can waste energy and drive up costs. Conducting regular maintenance on HVAC systems can help identify and address performance issues. 

Learn About Incentive Opportunities

Working toward CO2 reduction can be costly for commercial building owners, as making changes comes with investments. Luckily, New York City has put programs and services in place available through NYSERDA and local utilities. Some of the current programs in place include:

  • Low Carbon Pathways: Offering incentives ranging from $700-$5,000 per installation of low carbon upgrades 
  • NY-SUN: Offering incentives per watt through approved NY-SUN contractors 
  • AMEEP: Joint Utilities and NYSERDA providing incentives for the installation of energy-efficient equipment 

Learning about available incentives to help comply with Local Law 97 can help reduce the cost for compliance.

Contact an Energy Auditor for Official Report Information

New York Local Law 97 mandates building owners to utilize a registered design professional, either a PE or an RA, when reporting building carbon emissions. These design professionals can help building owners and managers navigate the complex reporting requirements of Local Law 97, which can be difficult to understand when making emission and consumption calculations. 

Energy auditors can help you gain a better understanding of your building’s energy consumption and the various avenues you could take to reduce it in different areas. 

Implementing Improved Data Collection Methods

Technology has come a long way in being able to provide the tools we need to monitor and manage our energy usage within commercial buildings. Along with benchmarking current energy usage building owners can also look to technology to help them achieve carbon emission limits. 

According to the EIA, the number one major area of energy consumption in buildings is in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) which consumes 35% of total building energy. The EIA acknowledges that there are clear ways to reduce HVAC energy consumption stating, “Opportunities for improved efficiency are enormous… building energy use could be cut more than 20% using technologies known to be cost-effective today and by more than 35% if research goals are met.” 

By improving data collection methods building owners can understand their systems better and gain insight on any opportunities to reduce emissions. Improved data collection enables owners to deploy tools like Beacon AI, which uses machine learning algorithms to autonomously optimize HVAC controls, minimizing energy consumption at all times. This technology has proven capable of reducing building emissions and HVAC operating costs by 30% without impacting tenant comfort.

New Technologies Help Meet LL97 Goals

Reducing both carbon emissions and energy consumption will take a lot of effort and will require additional tools to reach the goals outlined in New York Local Law 97.  

While many of the covered buildings under Local Law 97 won't require many changes during the initial period between 2024-2030, many of these preparation tactics will make an impact during the secondary period of 2031-2050 when carbon emission limits become even more stringent. 

Interested in learning more about complying with LL97? Check out our previous blog where we go over everything you need to know about the legislation.

Ruth Favela
Ruth Favela
February 28, 2023