In 2019, New York City released the Climate Mobilization Act – an extremely ambitious climate action plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. These emissions reduction targets align NYC with the carbon drawdown targets outlined by the Paris Agreement.
How does the city intend to reach these targets? Through the widespread decarbonization of buildings, which are responsible for two-thirds of the city’s annual emissions. The Climate Mobilization Act is comprised of five local laws that work in unison to do this:
Green Roof Requirement: Local Laws 92 and 94 require green roofs be installed on all new roofs and roofs undergoing major renovations
Energy Efficiency Score Disclosure: Local Law 95 amends previous Local Law 33, which requires the display of energy efficiency scores for buildings that annually benchmark water and energy consumption
Commercial PACE Financing: Local Law 96 establishes long-term, low-interest Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing to fund upgrades to building energy and water efficiency
Carbon Reduction Targets: Local Law 97 requires all buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets
These laws present many questions for building owners, including how to programmatically analyze their real estate portfolios and develop multi-year plans to upgrade buildings to avoid hefty penalties. Even highly energy-efficient buildings (ie: LEED Platinum certified) will likely struggle to comply with the law in their existing states. Owners will have to adopt building-wide energy efficiency measures including upgrades to HVAC, lighting, sensors, controls, tenant lighting systems, and plug load controls. If these measures are not enough to hit their prescribed targets, they will then have to purchase renewable energy credits, carbon offsets, and potentially participate in a carbon trading marketplace that is still under review.
Local Law 97 specifically requires a 40% reduction in citywide building emissions by 2030 from the 2005 baseline of 61M metric tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) with increasingly stringent emissions requirements to follow, applying aggressive prescriptive emissions limits based on building occupancy types. With many buildings substantially above emissions limits, the penalties for non-compliance pose a significant financial risk to building owners. For example, an office building exceeding its emissions limit of 1,692 tCO2e by 287 tCO2e will be fined $268 per square foot multiplied by the difference between the emissions limit and the reported emissions, or $76,802 per year. Emissions limits will decrease again in 2030 and 2035, leading to increasingly large fines over time for non-compliant building owners. Determine the impacts this law might have on your buildings with the NYC LL97 Carbon Emissions Calculator here.
Redaptive is experienced in developing energy efficiency programs and in closing C-PACE transactions. We are well-equipped to help owners take on these challenges and usher in a greener future for their buildings in NYC. Contact us today to discuss designing your building emissions reduction plans and managing your C-PACE financing to comply with Local Law 97.