Coopersmith and Coopersmith

On April 18, 2019, the New York City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act, with the goal of making the city carbon neutral by 2050. In our last alert What Does A Building’s Energy Efficiency Grade Really Mean?, we addressed Local Law 33, a predecessor to the Climate Mobilization Act. The energy efficiency grades pursuant to Local Law 33 are intended to increase awareness and transparency and allow owners and other stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding their property interests.

In this alert, we address key changes implemented by the Climate Mobilization Act, specifically Local Law 97.

To advise the city on how best to meet its sustainability goals and provide recommendations to the Buildings Department and the Mayor’s Office, Local Law 97 established the Local Law 97 Advisory Board and Climate Working Groups made up of architects, engineers, property owners, representatives from the business sector and public utilities, environmental justice advocates, and tenant advocates. In December 2022, they issued a report addressing various issues such as how to calculate and report greenhouse gas emissions, how to treat different property types, and how to achieve consistency across other regulations. To read the report CLICK HERE.

While reducing energy consumption, as encouraged by Local Law 33, will in most cases result in reduced building emissions, having a high grade does not necessarily translate to Local Law 97 compliance. Similar to Local Law 33, Local Law 97 generally covers buildings that meet the following qualifications, with some exceptions:

  1. Buildings that exceed 25,000 gross square feet;
  2. Two or more buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 50,000 square feet; and
  3. Two or more condo buildings governed by the same board of managers and that together exceed 50,000 square feet

Certain residential buildings with income-based occupancy restrictions are exempt from the annual building emissions limits and from any applicable reporting requirements until January 1, 2035. To confirm whether the law applies to their property, building owners and managers can check the NYC Local Law 97 Covered Buildings List by CLICKING HERE and selecting the relevant year.

Building owners are also encouraged to work with a registered design professional to confirm whether their building is subject to the law and how they can comply.

Annual emissions limits are based on the type of occupancy of a building. Starting January 1, 2024, a covered building may not have annual building emissions higher than the limit established for its applicable occupancy group. Buildings with multiple occupancy types may have multiple requirements. These requirements will apply through 2029, and additional requirements will be set from 2030 through 2034.

Starting May 1, 2025, the owner of a covered building must file a report every year, certified by a registered design professional, stating whether the building is in compliance with the applicable building emissions limit established, and if not, the amount by which the building exceeds such limit.

Failure to timely file a report may incur a penalty up to $0.50 times the gross floor area of the building.

An owner of a covered building who has submitted a report which indicates the building has exceeded its annual building emissions limit may be liable for a civil penalty up to $268 times the difference between the building emissions limit and the reported emissions.

In our next alert, we will address how building owners can prepare to get into compliance. 

The foregoing is not intended to be comprehensive nor constitute legal advice. If you would like to discuss your specific circumstances or would like more information, feel free to contact us at (212) 625-8505.

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