Local Law 97: A Comprehensive Guide To Achieve Sustainable Buildings in NYC - Article Banner

What is Local Law 97, what are your responsibilities under LL 97, and how can you make sure you’re compliant with its requirements?  

Local Law 97 sets emission limits for buildings in New York City in an effort to reach the desired carbon neutral status and to make residential buildings more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is part of the local Green New Deal, and retrofits may be required in your building in order to make it more energy-efficient. 

Located in Upper Manhattan, Harlem Property Management is the authority on NYC co-op and condo building management and a member of the Real Estate Board of New York. We specialize in managing condos, co-ops, and multi-family buildings and we’re providing a comprehensive guide for you today. Whether you’re on the condo board of your building, part of a co-op, or invested in any way in the sustainability of our New York City buildings, you have a responsibility under LL 97. 

Is Your Building Affected by Local Law 97?

First, let’s make sure you’re required to comply with this law as it’s currently written and enforced. Your building’s square footage will impact whether you’re subject to its requirements. 

The Department of Finance holds records pertaining to your property, and you are covered by Local Law 97 if:

  1. The building exceeds 25,000 gross square feet.
  2. Two or more buildings on the same tax lot exceed 50,000 square feet together.
  3. Two or more condominium buildings governed by the same board of managers together exceed 50,000 square feet.

A Building Identification Number (BIN) is a unique identifier for each building in New York City. Local Law 97 compliance is required for each BIN on a borough-block-and-lot (BBL) where the buildings together or separately meet the square foot threshold described above.

Certain buildings in New York City are not required to comply with Local Law 97, but these will generally be industrial buildings, such as utilities, that primarily produce electrical power or steam. Additional exemptions include detached or semi-detached buildings of three or fewer stories where each owner owns and maintains their own HVAC and hot water systems that serve spaces of 25,000 square feet or less.

Determine Your Building’s Energy Usage

The first step in determining whether you need to make any retrofits to your building is to determine how much energy your building currently uses. You will need to partner with a certified architect or energy consultant to determine the energy usage in your condo building or co-op. It’s possible that your building has already fulfilled the requirement to compile and submit its energy data in order to comply with Benchmarking and Energy Efficiency Grading. However, there are some unique situations in which buildings might be subject to Local Law 97 while being exempt from the City’s Benchmarking requirements. So, if you don’t already have an accurate understanding of your building’s energy usage, make sure you get the evaluation completed. 

Once you know where your building lands in terms of energy usage, you’ll need to decide what changes will best help you reduce existing energy usage in order to comply with the law. 

The emissions limits for your building depends on a number of factors, mostly the occupancy types in your building. Some buildings will have multiple occupancies and others will just have one. The emissions standards for a building with retail establishments on the ground floor and residential units above, for example, will be different from those buildings that are 100 percent occupied by residential units.

You’ll find that New York City’s Department of Buildings maintains two time period limits: one for 2024-2029, and a stricter one that runs from 2030-2034. Your building may only need to make minor adjustments for the first period and more thorough ones to comply with the stricter limits that will come later.

How to Decide Which Retrofits and Upgrades to Make

The best updates and retrofits for your building will depend on a number of things, including the amount of energy you’re currently using, the residents who live in your building, and the priorities of your board. 

It’s important to understand that every building is unique, and while there are often some helpful suggestions that we can make as your New York City property manager and even some suggestions that might come in from the Department of Buildings, the best thing you can do is consult with an architect, an engineer, or an energy expert who can make customized recommendations based on your specific building. 

Remember that reducing emissions, making your building more energy-efficient, and taking steps towards carbon neutral outcomes can be simple. Even while you’re planning more involved retrofits, changing out light bulbs and improving your insulation can have an impact. 

When you’re looking for support and resources for your co-op or condo, consider partnering with your NYC property management company. You can also check out the resources available through the Sustainability Help Center at the Department of Buildings and the NYC Accelerator. 

Financial support may be available through city agencies as well. You can apply for various adjustments and credits that are based on special usages. Remember that while energy efficiency upgrades might seem expensive as you’re starting them, these changes will save you money in operating costs and energy bills over time.

Ensuring Compliance and Avoiding Fines 

You want to have your retrofits and your upgrades in place so you’re not facing a fine in 2025. The Department of Buildings will provide compliance tools before the end of the year so you can track and document your progress and prepare for any additional changes that you might have to make. 

Reporting deadlines for most covered buildings will begin on May 1, 2025. 

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is recommending that all buildings covered by Local Law 97 begin their planning today. We’re all contributing to a cleaner and healthier community, and there’s no reason to continually put off the improvements that can make a difference today. 

Contact Property Management CompanyIf you’d like some help with your property retrofits and energy consumption, or if you need some direction when it comes to financial incentives and guidance, we’re here to help. Please contact us at Harlem Property Management.