What is New York Local Law 97?

October 11th, 2023


Local Law 97 was enacted in 2019 as part of a package of laws referred to as the Climate Mobilization Act, the centerpiece of New York City’s Green New Deal, which aims to make the city carbon neutral by 2050. Local Law 97 targets curb carbon emissions from buildings, which account for approximately two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in the city.

The law requires most buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions limits as of 2024, with stricter limits taking effect by 2030. It seeks to reduce the emissions produced by those building 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, relative to 2005 emission levels. Local Law 97 (LL97) has been called the most ambitious carbon emissions building law in place globally.

Metrus Energy can help building owners meet the stringent requirements of Local Law 97 through Energy as a Service, an off-balance-sheet solution that pays for building improvements through the energy savings generated by those improvements—with no upfront cost to the building owner.

What buildings are covered by Local Law 97?

Local Law 97 generally covers, with some exceptions:

  • Buildings that exceed 25,000 gross square feet;
  • Two or more buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 50,000 square feet;
  • Two or more buildings owned by a condo association that are governed by the same board of managers and that together exceed 50,000 square feet.

Buildings emissions limits under Local Law 97

The annual greenhouse gas emissions limits established by LL97 were updated by the New York City Dept. of Buildings (DOB) through a conversion to Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM) property types. The revised limits reflect actual energy consumption patterns in New York City buildings and set more equitable and fair emissions limits. More information is available by visiting NYC Sustainable Buildings Compliance.

Reporting and compliance under Local Law 97

The buildings covered by Local Law 97 are required to file a report with the DOB by May 1, 2025 detailing their annual greenhouse gas emissions and then by May 1 of every year after. The report must be certified by a registered design professional.

The Department of Buildings is developing guidance for building owners to help them comply with the law’s mandates. This guidance will include information on various retrofits and strategies for a wide range of building types, including hospitals, commercial buildings, and large multifamily dwellings.

Violations for non-compliance with Local Law 97

Starting in 2025, an owner of a building subject to LL97 that exceeds its annual building emissions limit will be liable for a civil penalty equal to the difference between the building emissions limit for that timeframe and the reported building emissions for that year. In addition to civil penalties, the DOB may also issue violations for non-compliance with the law.

Building owners who fail to submit their report on their buildings energy usage will face stiff penalties and fines.

Learn more about compliance with Local Law 97 and penalties for non-compliance here.

The impact of Local Law 97 on decarbonization

Local Law 97 is expected to drive many positive climate-positive changes across the built environment. These include:

Energy efficiency: Building owners will be motivated to improve energy efficiency and retrofit their properties to meet the emission limits.

Renewable energy: Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal will help building owners comply with the requiremenets.

Innovation in building design and construction: Local Law 97 has prompted archi-tects, engineers, and construction companies to innovate in building design and construction practices. This includes the use of sustainable and low emissivity materials, passive design strategies, and the integration of energy-efficient technologies to meet the stringent emission standards.

Economic opportunities: LL97 has opened to the door to a new green economy in New York City, with opportunities for businesses specializing in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable construction.

How to comply with NYC Local Law 97

Building owners in New York City can take several actions to ensure compliance with Local Law 97 and meet the emission limits set by the legislation. Some key steps and strategies to comply with the law include:

Conduct an energy audit

Building owners can start by conducting a comprehensive energy audit to identify are-as where energy efficiency can be improved. This may involve assessing the building’s heating, cooling, and lighting systems, as well as insulation and overall energy usage. Metrus offers a free remote energy audit that identifies the improvements that will have the bigggest impact on energy use and lays out a road map for project implementation.

Implement an energy-efficient retrofit

Owners can invest in energy-efficient retrofits, such as upgrading to more efficient HVAC systems, installing energy-efficient lighting, and improving insulation.

Explore renewable energy options

Incorporating renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, can significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint.

Optimize building operations

Implementing operational changes, such as optimizing building schedules, improving maintenance practices, and utilizing smart technology for energy management, can help reduce energy consumption and improve overall efficiency.

Monitor building emissions

Regular monitoring and reporting of building emissions is crucial to ensuring compliance with LL97. Metrus facilitates the tracking and reporting of energy performance through its Sustainable Energy Services Agreement.

By implementing these measures and staying proactive in their efforts to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, building owners can work toward full compliance with NYC Local Law 97 and contribute to the city’s broader sustainability goals. Metrus Energy is uniquely qualified to help building owners achieve compliance because it removes the barriers to implementation by paying 100% of the upgrade cost and partnering with turnkey solution providers on project design, construction, maintenance, and monitoring.