Commercial and residential buildings account for 39% of the carbon emissions produced in the U.S. today, and in New York City, buildings are the single largest offender of greenhouse gas emissions, at close to 70% of the city’s overall total. Despite energy efficiency programs and regulations proposed or enacted by a number of states for the purpose of tracking and monitoring building emissions and energy usage, none has been successful in making a significant impact at reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Groundbreaking climate legislation passed in 2019 by the state of New York has set the standard for more eco-conscious, greener buildings, and with compliance deadlines fast approaching, building owners need to make sense of this new legislation or face some hefty fines.
What is the Climate Mobilization Act?
The Climate Mobilization Act refers to a group of laws that were passed by the New York City Council on April 18, 2019. The most powerful of this lot is Local Law 97, which was designed to reduce carbon emissions on a citywide level by 40% by the year 2030, and 80% by 2050. This Local Law acknowledges that the city’s buildings contribute close to 70% of its greenhouse gas emissions and that there is an ample supply of technology and knowledge available today to allow the city to achieve its goals and reach those targets for emissions reductions by the scheduled deadlines. Additional meaningful laws are included in the CMA that relate to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with actionable plans that include mandatory green roofs, energy storage assessments, and sustainable energy loans.
How Local Law 97 Works
Building owners in the New York City area are currently aware of several other laws governing energy usage and carbon emissions. These include:
- Local Law 87 – Buildings over 50,000 square feet must partake in a periodic energy audit and undergo retro-commissioning measures.
- Local Laws 33 and 84 – New York City buildings over 25,000 square feet require annual rating and benchmarking of energy and water consumption.
Following in the same footsteps as the reporting requirements for other states, there has been little to no incentive for building owners to meet the guidelines for water and energy efficiency. Fines have been of little consequence and appear to be a cost-effective alternative to achieving sustainability. Local Law 97 is designed to spur owners into action with strategies that make it more advantageous to act than to pay for non-compliance.
Local Law 97 applies to all buildings in the New York City area that are over 25,000 square feet, and it places a cap on the amount of greenhouse emissions they can produce. Preset caps are based on a number of factors, including building size, and while adjustments may be made, the fines will remain impressive, at $268 for every metric ton a building is over the limit.
Additional penalties will apply in the event that reporting is inaccurate, false, or withheld, forcing building owners to make tracking and reporting a priority. Fines will be applied on an annual basis and will continue to accumulate until the necessary changes are made to the building so that it may fall within the allowable limits for carbon emissions.
How to Comply With Local Law 97
Local Law 97 requires building owners to regulate and maintain the carbon emissions levels set forth in the new legislation and to submit reports on an annual basis. The first compliance period begins on January 1, 2024, and runs until the end of 2029, and the first compliance report is due on May 1, 2025. Steps to ensure compliance include:
Calculate Your Building’s Emissions
The greenhouse gas emissions created during operations are defined in metric tons of the carbon dioxide equivalent and take into account the type and amount of energy used and the time of consumption. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® is a tool that allows you to easily track and assess your consumption across a number of platforms using the consumption data that you provide.
Determine Whether Emissions Fall Within the Acceptable Limit
Once you have your numbers in hand, you will need to compare them to the predetermined limits provided to you for the first two compliance periods.
Consider the Penalties
Non-compliance will result in fines equal to the difference between the annual emissions limit and the actual emissions, multiplied by $268.
Plan to Comply
Plan to implement energy-saving measures to reduce emissions, or if there is sufficient cause to prevent this, you may apply for an adjustment to the emissions limit that may be valid for up to three years.
Call AFGO Mechanical Services at (718) 478-5555 to learn more or contact us online today.