Benchmarking, Energy Audit and Emissions Limits Update

Most buildings in the City that are over 25,000 square feet are subject to annual benchmarking (Local Law 84 of 2009, and its amendment Local Law 133 of 2016), energy audits and retro commissioning every decade (Local Law 87 of 2009) and will soon be subject to carbon emission limits (Local Law 97 of 2019).

Building owners should be prepared to submit last year’s energy and water usage to get their benchmark Energy Stare Portfolio Manager score. The benchmarking deadline is May 1st. Within 30 days of receiving a score, a building must then post their letter grade at the front door.

The first 10-year cycle of energy audits is complete, and the new cycle is upon us. All “covered buildings” will have to submit an energy efficiency report, starting with those with a 3 in the last digit of their tax block number. The reports are due at the end of the year, and they must be filed by a registered design professional (an engineer or architect). There are penalties (fines, $3,000 for the first year and $5,000 for each additional year) for failure to report, and any late filings are not accepted until all outstanding penalties are paid. 

Finally, the pending carbon emissions limits will come into effect in 2024. This is one of the main laws to get New York City to an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. Considering the 50,000 or so covered buildings and their current emissions levels, about twenty percent exceed the limits that will come into effect in the first period, from 2024 through 2029. That is, about 10,000 buildings will be subject to emissions limit fines starting in 2024, unless they trim their emissions before then. The emission limits will be lowered every five years, affecting more buildings, and increasing the fines for those buildings which do not reduce emissions. The NYC Dept of Building’s new Bureau of Sustainability will spearhead implementation of this law. There may be leniency towards buildings that show good faith efforts: a plan and a timeline for implementing emissions cutting measures. For most buildings, the plan would include changing any fossil-fuel-based systems to heat-pump-based systems, replacing windows and upgrading insulation throughout, upgrading to LED-based lighting, and possibly adding energy storage and/or upgrading the building’s electric service.  

If you have a building that’s over 25,000 square feet, EP can help you navigate these local laws, whether for benchmarking, energy audits or capital planning. Please direct all inquiries to