In May 2019, the New York City Council enacted ambitious climate legislation to help the city achieve its goal of
reducing carbon emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Included in this package was Local Law 97, which
aims to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase energy efficiency for buildings in NYC. It applies
to all buildings that are over 25,000 square feet, impacting over 50,000 buildings and 60% of the city’s building
area. Although the first compliance report isn’t due until May 1, 2025, and every May thereafter, it is important
to immediately develop strategies to reducing emissions to ensure compliance with the imposed limits.
What are the limits?
Outlined in the legislation are emissions intensity limits (kilograms of CO2 emitted per square foot floor space)
for various building categories based on the building code occupancy groups. The annual emissions limit then
equals the emissions intensity limits multiplied by the gross floor area. Emissions intensity limits vary
significantly between occupancy groups with Medical Office space allowed to be much more carbon intense
(23.81kg/sqft) while storage space is expected to be much lower intensity (4.26 kg/sqft). Regardless of the
classification, the intensity limits are reduced starting in the 2030 compliance period making early action key to
long term compliance.
Are there penalties?
Failing to submit a report on time results in a fine of $0.50/sqft per month (minimum of $12.5k) that the report
is delayed, so timely reporting is essential. Additionally, a report which shows noncompliance with emissions
limits can be costly as there will be a fine of $268 for each metric ton over the limit. If reports are inaccurate, or
falsified, there will be further penalties which make the reporting and monitoring of a building’s emissions and
What can you do now to help with compliance later?
To begin reducing carbon emissions, it is recommended to develop a long‐term energy and reduction strategy
which includes input from various stakeholders and the inclusion of external exports or consultants. One of the
more effective ways of reducing emissions begins with reviewing the building’s fuel sources, targeting those
which are most carbon intensive and would thus yield the biggest carbon savings. Audits can be conducted to
identify equipment upgrades or replacements that could help save energy from a building’s heating, cooling or
lighting systems. If applicable, the purchase of renewable energy credits from a source in NYC’s electric grid
zone (up to 100%), carbon offsets (up to 10%) or the implementation of peak energy storage could be
advantageous in helping to achieve the goals outlined by Local Law 97. Financing is available through a loan
program known as Property Assessed Clean Energy, which provides low‐interest loans used to finance energy
efficiency and green energy projects.