In 2009, the Department of Buildings passed Local Law 84, which required that all buildings over 50,000 square feet and groups of buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 100,000 gross square feet file a report which documents energy and water usage of the facility (known as benchmarking). The requirement was later amended by Local Law 33/16 to reduce the benchmarking requirement to 25,000 square feet, to include mid-sized buildings.
Local Law 33 of 2018 now changes the way that benchmarking scores are represented and displayed to the public. The 1 to 100 Energy Star score, calculated from the building performance data submitted for benchmarking, will be assigned to a corresponding letter grade (similar to NYC restaurant grades).
Starting in 2020, building owners that are subject to compliance with the benchmarking law, will be legally required to display an energy label with the Building’s Energy Grade and Energy Star score.
The law also stipulates that the DOB will annually conduct spot audits of benchmarking information.
Below is a breakdown of the grading system:
|Energy Grade||Energy Star Score|
|F||No Data Submitted|
|N||Building Exempt from Benchmarking|
Intent of the Law
The thought behind the local law is that potential renters in commercial buildings will now notice a grade on a building similar to how they see them at restaurants. Even if they don’t know what the grade means, if it’s an average “C” building, they will know that they are walking into a “C” building and not an “A” building. In comparing different buildings they may be inclined to pick the one with the higher grade. In turn, this will motivate building owners to get better scores (and effectively lower the carbon footprint of their building and of the city)
How can building owners avoid low energy grades?
There are several steps Owners can take to improve their Energy Grades, as follows:
- The first step is to contact an Engineer/Energy Consultant to perform an assessment of your building energy usage. (EP Engineering provides this service)
- The Consultant should review past benchmarking reports, utility bills and building systems to determine high level measures to lower energy usage.
- Consultant should create a list of low-cost, immediate energy saving measures.
- Typical low-cost measures (“low hanging fruit”) may include:
- Updating lighting controls
- Replacing inefficient lighting
- Addressing HVAC systems with over ventilation by lowering outside air quantities
- Tuning all HVAC controls to avoid cooling/heating spaces outside of their occupied times
- Replacing steam traps
- Re-Calibrating thermostats