Preparing for the Local Law 97 Climate Legislation

Oct 01, 2021

Preparing for the Local Law 97 Climate Legislation

Discover What Your Business Needs to Know About Upcoming Carbon Emission Limits

New York City has committed to achieving carbon neutrality in the coming decades to reduce the impacts of climate change and create a more sustainable future. One step that has been taken towards achieving this goal was the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act and Local Law 97. However, these policies alone may be insufficient to reach the ambitious goals set out by the New York City Government.

A study commissioned by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS), Con Edison, and National Grid determined that large-scale coordination and collaboration will be required to address climate change at the pace and scale that climate scientists recommend, and ongoing innovation, new technology, high-quality carbon offsets, and more will be needed. Still, these cutting-edge policies are an important testament to NYC’s dedication to sustainability.

Keep reading to learn more about Local Law 97 climate legislation and how your business can better prepare your sustainable energy strategy for a greener future in New York City and surrounding areas.

What Is Local Law 97?

Included in the Climate Mobilization Act, which was passed by the New York City Council in April 2019 as part of the New York City Green New Deal, Local Law 97 is a part of a plan to make the city carbon neutral by 2050. The law mandates carbon reductions from buildings, which account for roughly two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City.

Most buildings over 25,000 square feet must meet new greenhouse gas emission limits by 2024, with stricter limits going into effect in 2030. The goal is to reduce emissions produced by the city’s largest buildings by 40% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050. Buildings at more than 25,000 gross square feet, two or more buildings on the same tax lot that combine to more than 50,000 square feet, and two or more buildings owned by a condo association governed by the same board of directors and that together exceed 50,000 square feet are all affected. The law is enforced by the newly established Local Law 97 Advisory Board and Climate Working Groups.

Fines will be levied annually the following May for carbon emissions over the previous year’s limit, with emission limits becoming stricter as time goes on. The penalty for exceedance is $268 per metric ton of carbon dioxide over the limit, equivalent to $2.8 billion annually, should emissions remain the same.

Our Recommendations

Different occupancy types have different emission limits, so Environ recommends delineating usage by tenant or occupancy type through sub-metering to reduce potential fines. Also, consider auditing your business for energy consumption, buying carbon offsets, and applying for funds through New York’s Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

Tenants should also conduct their audits as they will be held responsible for energy usage through new leases and might find it harder or more expensive to find new leases if they use large amounts of energy. Determine usage patterns for lighting, plug load, and thermal control, and then ask for a lease that charges for the energy you use rather than a flat fee per square foot. We also recommend that you work with brokers and consultants versed in the effects of Local Law 97 to ensure clarity over responsibility for both the tenant and leaser.