If you’re the owner of a commercial property or co-op building in New York City, you may be subject to NYC Local Law 97. Passed in 2019, this law sets stringent standards for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of large buildings throughout the city.

With the initial compliance period for LL 97 beginning in 2024, now’s the time to determine whether your building is impacted by this law and how you can achieve compliance. Read on for everything you need to know about NYC’s Local Law 97.

What is Local Law 97?

Considered the cornerstone of the NYC Climate Mobilization Act, NYC Local Law 97 set carbon emissions limits for buildings greater than 25,000 square feet. In accordance with city goals, these buildings must reduce their emissions by 40% by 2030, and by 80% by 2050.

LL 97 set two initial phases of emissions limits for these buildings. The first phase begins in 2024 and continues until 2029, while the second, more stringent phase will take place in 2030-2034. The limits were set based on several different building use classifications and sizes. Buildings must submit yearly emissions reports starting in May 2025, and face penalties for exceeding emissions limits.

Aerial image of homes in Park Slope with solar on rooftops
Park Slope is a neighborhood that has truly embraced clean energy alternatives.

Why was NYC Local Law 97 created?

The NYC Climate Mobilization Act (CMA), otherwise known as NYC’s Green New Deal, was passed by the New York City Council in 2019. It put NYC on the path to fighting climate change by reducing building carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050. 

The largest climate legislation of any city in the world, the CMA consists of several laws aimed at reducing GHG emissions across the city, with special attention paid to improving the energy efficiency of both residential and commercial buildings. 

One of these laws was NYC Local Laws 92 and 94 – also known as the Green Roof Law – which mandated that all new roof construction must add either a green roof, a solar PV system, or a combination of both. Another of these laws was LL 97, which set specific emissions reduction limits for NYC’s large buildings.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The main goal of NYC Local Law 97 is to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of NYC’s large buildings. NYC buildings make up the majority of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, buildings account for over 70% of total emissions – surpassing even transportation emissions. The source of these emissions is energy consumption from electricity use, heating, and cooling, which can add up particularly in larger buildings.

Promote Energy Efficiency

In order to reduce their emissions in the coming decade, building owners will have to invest in energy efficiency measures. This could look like upgrading to electric heating and cooling systems, improving the building’s insulation, or powering it with solar energy. Creating more energy efficient buildings has the added benefit of decreased energy costs for building owners and reducing stress on the city’s power grid.

Improve Air Quality

Reducing emissions from buildings will result in better air quality for all New Yorkers. One of the biggest contributors to NYC’s poor air quality is the burning of fossil fuels for heating, electricity, and transportation. Moving towards a power system that is more energy efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels will create a healthier city.

Enhance Climate Resilience

One of the biggest challenges facing our city is preparing for the effects of climate change, like severe storms and heatwaves. Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings will help strengthen the power grid and make our city more resilient in the face of future severe weather events.

nyc local law 97 building requirements summary

What are the requirements for buildings in LL97?

Under Local Law 97, most buildings in NYC over 25,000 square feet are required to meet new greenhouse gas emissions caps by 2024, and stricter caps by 2030. The emissions limits vary depending on the building type, but generally lead towards the goal of reducing emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

Starting in May 2025, buildings are required to submit an annual Greenhouse Gas Emission report to the Department of Buildings demonstrating compliance. If the building is non-compliant, the report must show by how much the building exceeded its limit.

How are emissions limits determined?

Initially, emissions limits were set based on building classifications in NYC Building Code occupancy groups, but have since been revised to create more equitable emissions limits. 

The new building classifications were established based on property types in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which reflect real patterns of energy consumption in NYC buildings.

Because of this change, buildings whose emissions limits were made more stringent have the option to follow the original limit if they choose. However, this is only for the calendar years 2024 and 2025 – in 2026, they’ll be required to follow the Energy Star limits.

What are the timelines for compliance?

This law sets emissions limits for two separate compliance periods.

First Compliance Period (2024 – 2029) 

The first compliance period begins in 2024 and ends in 2029. Building owners must begin submitting their emissions reports by May 1, 2025, which will reflect the calendar year 2024.

Second Compliance Period (2030 – 2034)

The second compliance period will take place from 2030 to 2034. At this time, stricter emissions limits will go into effect.

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 emissions limit and its actual emissions (in metric tons), then multiplying the difference by $268. The Department of Buildings may also issue violations to buildings that are non-compliant.

Annual fines for buildings that are non-compliant will begin to be issued in 2025.

Which department will be enforcing LL 97?

The primary city authority enforcing LL 97 will be the Department of Buildings. Building owners will need to submit their emissions reports to the DOB, and the DOB will also issue penalties and violations for non-compliance.

How do I know if LL97 applies to my building?

NYC Local Law 97 covers the following buildings:

  • Buildings greater than 25,000 square feet
  • Two or more buildings on the same tax lot that, combined, exceed 50,000 gross square feet
  • Two or more buildings owned by a condo association that are governed by the same board of managers and that, combined, exceed 50,000 gross square feet

This covers around 27,000 of NYC’s buildings, the majority of these being residential. Rent regulated residential buildings and affordable housing may be able to delay compliance until 2026 or follow a Prescriptive Pathway as an alternative.

We recommend using NYC Accelerator’s Building Energy Snapshot tool to get specific information about your building’s energy use and its compliance status.

Covered Multifamily Buildings

When you think of large buildings in NYC, you may only think about the skyscrapers and luxury high rises in Manhattan. 

However, there are around 18,000 multifamily buildings in NYC that are covered by LL 97, which accounts for 60% of the covered square footage. And of these buildings, most are low-rise (7 stories or fewer) and either pre-war (built before 1940) or post-war (1940-1980). Overall, pre-war, low-rise buildings are the ones who have the most LL 97 work to do.

Certain neighborhoods in NYC have greater proportions of these types of buildings than others. Neighborhoods with the most census tracts made up of more than 50% of these buildings include:

  • Central Brooklyn: Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Bed Stuy, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Heights
  • North Brooklyn: Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Ridgewood
  • South Brooklyn: Sunset Park, Bath Beach
  • Queens: Astoria
  • Manhattan: Soho, Harlem, Lower East Side
  • Bronx: Port Morris, Van Nest, Soundview

If you own an apartment in an older, low-rise multifamily building in one of these neighborhoods, there’s a good chance it’s covered by NYC Local Law 97 and will benefit from solar energy.

What are the implications of LL97 for NYC building owners?

If you’re the owner of a covered building, there are some important implications and considerations to think about as the first compliance period approaches. 

Determine Your Building’s Emissions Limit

The first step should be to determine your building’s emissions limit. If you’re the owner of a co-op, there is a specific limit set for Multifamily Housing. If you own a commercial-use building, there are a variety of classifications you may fall under. 

To determine your emissions limit, refer to the DOB’s ESPM Property Types.

Consider Compliance and Penalties

It’s important to consider that the city will be penalizing buildings that do not comply with LL 97, and the penalties could be costly. 

You can estimate your building’s carbon penalty using Building Energy Exchange’s free calculator and following these steps:

  • Click “Find Your Building” to input your address
  • Click “Next” on the upper right side 
  • Insert values for solar PV to see the added benefit of solar power.
Air source heat pumps on a roof with solar canopy
Electrifying your HVAC with heat pumps could be a good option for your building.

Invest in Energy Efficient Upgrades & Sustainable Technology

To comply with Local Law 97, you’ll likely need to make some energy efficient improvements to your building. This could include: 

Investing in efficient, sustainable technologies will not only help you comply with LL 97, but can save you tons of money on energy costs in the long run. To get free, personalized guidance on how to upgrade your building, contact NYC Accelerator.

To learn about how solar can help you comply with LL 97, schedule a free consultation with us.

Financial Considerations & Affordability

Once you determine which energy upgrades you’ll need to make, you’ll need to consider your finances. Depending on the size of your building and the scope of the upgrades, it could be a pretty hefty investment.

However, there may be financing options available through the city that have little to no upfront costs and can make your upgrades much more affordable. NYC Accelerator’s Financing Specialists can help you find the right financing option for you. There are also tax incentives available for solar and for electric upgrades, made possible by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

Impact on Building Valuation

Investing in energy efficiency measures and sustainable construction has the added benefit of boosting your property’s value. Under Local Law 95, buildings get an energy efficiency grade based on their Energy Star scores and are required to display them. Though there are no legal consequences for having a low score under LL 95, low energy efficiency grades imply higher utility bills for tenants and buyers. 

In today’s market, sustainability is a valuable selling point. In fact, home solar has been proven to increase property resale value in NYC by up to 5%. Your LL 97 retrofits will not only help you comply with the law, but provide a lot of value for your building too.

Make a Positive Environmental Impact

All in all, you’ll be making a pretty significant impact on your building’s carbon footprint by complying with NYC LL 97. Reducing your emissions not only helps NYC do its part in the fight against climate change, but it also contributes to a healthier city overall.

Future-Proof Your Building

Making energy efficient, sustainable upgrades will help your building become more resilient in the face of climate change-related weather events, including heat waves and severe storms. It’ll also lower your energy costs and make them more predictable, in a city where energy rates are on the rise year after year.

A co-op in Crown Heights that went solar with us in 2018.

Solar Energy Can Help NYC Buildings Comply with LL 97

Installing solar panels on your multifamily building or commercial property is an excellent way to work towards complying with Local Law 97. Powering your building with clean energy reduces your emissions substantially, and it’s a great financial investment too. 

Solar can not only help you avoid Con Edison’s ongoing rate hikes, but also help you avoid potential carbon penalties. According to the law, adding solar will reduce LL97 penalties by ~7.7 cents per kWh from 2024-2029, and ~3.9 cents per kWh from 2030 on. Installing solar now will help you save lots of money in the long term, both in energy costs and potential fines.

Go Solar Today to Avoid Future NYC Local Law 97 Penalties

The first compliance period for NYC Local Law 97 is coming up fast. One of the best ways you can prepare right now is to talk to us about installing solar on your property. Due to the permitting process in NYC, it can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to install your project once you sign on. 

Now’s the time to get started on the road to LL 97 compliance. Schedule a free consultation now!

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