On April 18, 2019 New York City passed groundbreaking legislation that establishes carbon emissions limits for all buildings in New York City over 25,000 square feet.

This bill is the largest and most ambitious emissions bill for existing buildings in the world and will require buildings, which constitute 70% of New York City’s carbon footprint, to reduce emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 from a 2005 baseline.  The city expects building owners to meet the carbon reduction goals through whole-building energy use reductions (retrofits) and switching to renewable energy sources.

Compliance with the bill will require building owners to measure their carbon emissions per square foot per year (mtCO2e/sf/yr), and meet two emissions limits based on the building’s DOB occupancy class: an initial limit during 2024-2029, and a second more stringent limit during 2030-2035, or pay substantial annual fines for non-compliance. Based on the fine structure, some buildings may have annual fines of $1M or more! (An advisory group will set limits beyond 2035.)

The carbon emissions (footprint) of a building is a measure of the CO2 released into the atmosphere in order to heat, cool and power the activities in the building. Some of this emissions occurs onsite, like during consumption of oil or gas for heating and cooking, and some of this emissions occurs offsite, at the power plants that generate electricity or steam that is used by the building. The proposed bill requires that both onsite and offsite emissions be included in the building’s carbon measurement.  

So what does this all mean for you and your buildings? There are still many details that need to be worked out, but the bottom line is that building owners across the city should start planning for major energy reductions in the next 5-10 years and beyond. Complying with these limits will require a long-term holistic energy management plan, and the involvement of multiple stakeholders including building owners, operations staff, and tenants.  


You can read the full text of the bill HERE

Contact our Local Law 97 team at LL97@codegreensolutions.com to learn how this bill will impact your portfolio and how to develop a strategic and cost-effective compliance plan.