New York Local Law 97 (LL97): Everything you need to know

April 5, 2023

In this article, we dive into New York Local Law 97, a legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings across New York City. We discuss the key drivers behind the law and explain the requirements that building owners must comply with to avoid penalties. Additionally, we will explore potential retrofits and programs that can help building owners reduce their emissions and achieve compliance. We also examine how building analytics software can help building owners track their emissions, identify inefficiencies, and comply with Local Law 97.

Jump to:

What is LL97?

Key drivers

Differences between LL97, LL87 and LL84

Which buildings are covered?

Which buildings are exempt?

LL97 requirements

Recommended retrofits

Penalties for non-compliance

Programs to assist building owners

How building analytics can help

What is New York Local Law 97?

New York City Local Law 97 (LL97) is a climate change mitigation law that sets specific emissions limits for buildings over 25,000 square feet. The law aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings in the city and combat climate change.

As a building owner, it is important to understand the requirements of the law and ensure compliance to avoid fines and penalties. The law comes into effect in 2024, and requires building owners to meet specific emissions limits based on their occupancy type. Additionally, building owners must report their emissions data annually to the city. Buildings that do not meet the emissions limits must implement retrofits to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

It is important to note that the city will enforce the law through inspections, fines, and penalties for non-compliance. Therefore, building owners should take steps to understand the requirements of the law and develop a plan to comply with the emissions limits. This may include investing in energy-efficient retrofits or renewable energy sources, as well as tracking and reporting emissions data to the city.

What are the key drivers behind LL97?

The key drivers behind LL97  are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. The law recognizes that buildings are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, accounting for nearly 70% of total emissions. Therefore, the law aims to reduce emissions from buildings to help achieve the city's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

The law is also driven by the recognition that climate change poses significant risks to the city, including increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and public health risks. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the law seeks to mitigate these risks and protect the health, safety, and welfare of city residents.

Another driver behind the law is the potential economic benefits of reducing emissions. By improving energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources, building owners can reduce their energy costs and increase the value of their buildings. The law also encourages the growth of a green economy in the city, creating new jobs and economic opportunities in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.

What is the difference between Local Law 97, Local Law 87 and Local Law 84? 

LL97, LL87 and LL84 are all legislations aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings in New York City, but there are some key differences between the three laws. 

LL87: Requires large buildings over 50,000 square feet to undergo an energy audit and retro-commissioning every ten years. The goal of LL87 is to identify and implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures in buildings to reduce energy waste and greenhouse gas emissions. For more information on LL87, check out our blog article on it here.

LL97: Sets emissions limits for buildings over 25,000 square feet based on their occupancy group. The goal of LL97 is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Building owners must comply with the emissions limits by implementing energy efficiency retrofits, on-site renewable energy, and/or purchasing renewable energy credits.

LL84: Requires owners of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet (or with multiple buildings on the same tax lot that collectively exceed 100,000 square feet) to annually benchmark and report their energy usage to the city. Find more information on LL84 here.

What buildings are covered under LL97?

The emissions limits set by LL97 apply to:

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

The law does not apply to buildings that are used for manufacturing, laboratory research and development, or vehicles maintenance and storage. Buildings owned by the city, state, or federal government are also exempt from the law. However, buildings owned by these entities may still be subject to similar regulations and requirements.

What are the requirements for building owners to comply with LL97?

The key requirements for building owners to comply with LL97 are:

  • Emissions Limits: Buildings over 25,000 square feet must meet specific emissions limits based on their occupancy type, starting in 2024. These emissions limits will become more stringent over time, with new limits taking effect in 2030 and 2035.
  • Retrofits: Buildings that do not meet the emissions limits must implement retrofits to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. The law provides a list of recommended retrofits that building owners can choose from to meet the emissions limits.
  • Reporting: Building owners must report their annual emissions data to the city through the Department of Buildings' online portal. This data must be verified by a qualified professional, such as a licensed engineer or architect.

It is important for building owners to develop a compliance plan that takes into account the specific requirements of LL97 and ensures timely compliance with the emissions limits. Building owners may need to invest in energy-efficient retrofits, renewable energy systems, and emissions tracking and reporting systems to comply with the law.

What buildings are exempt from LL97?

The following buildings are not required to comply with LL97:

  • Industrial facilities used for the generation of electric power or steam.
  • Properties for which ownership and the responsibility for maintenance of the HVAC systems and hot water heating systems is held by each individual dwelling unit owner, and with no HVAC system or hot water heating system in the series serving more than 25,000 gross square feet, as certified by a registered design professional to the department.
  • City buildings.
  • Housing developments or buildings on land owned by the New York city housing authority
  • Rent regulated accommodation.
  • Buildings whose main use or dominant occupancy is classified as occupancy group A-3 religious house of worship.
  • Properties owned by a housing development fund company organized pursuant to the business corporation law and article eleven of the private housing finance law.
  • Buildings that participates in a project-based federal housing program.

What if my building doesn't meet the emissions limits?

The New York Department of Buildings provides a list of recommended retrofits that building owners can choose from to comply with the emissions limits. The list includes:

  • Building Envelope: Building envelope retrofits involve improving insulation, upgrading windows and doors, and sealing air leaks to reduce heating and cooling losses.
  • Lighting Systems: Lighting retrofits involve upgrading to energy-efficient lighting systems, such as LEDs, and installing occupancy sensors and daylight dimming controls.
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems: HVAC retrofits involve upgrading to energy-efficient HVAC equipment, improving ventilation systems, and optimizing controls to improve system efficiency.
  • Hot Water Systems: Hot water retrofits involve installing energy-efficient hot water heaters, improving distribution systems, and optimizing controls to reduce hot water waste.
  • Renewable Energy Systems: Renewable energy retrofits involve installing on-site renewable energy systems, such as solar panels or wind turbines, to generate clean energy and offset building emissions.

Building owners are not required to implement all of the recommended retrofits, but they must implement enough measures to comply with the emissions limits. Building owners can work with qualified professionals, such as engineers and architects, to determine the most effective retrofits for their building and develop a compliance plan.

What are the fines for non compliance with LL97?

There are three kinds of fines for building owners who fail to comply with LL97:

  1. For building owners who exceed the emissions limit, the maximum annual penalty is the difference between a building’s annual emissions limit and its actual emissions, multiplied by $268.
  1. For building owners who fail to file a report, the fine is $0.50 per building square foot, per month
  1. For building owners who provide false statements on their report, there is a fine of $500,000

In addition to fines and penalties, buildings that are out of compliance may face reputational damage and decreased property values. Therefore, it is important for building owners to take the necessary steps to comply with LL97 and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Are there any programs that can reduce costs of compliance?

Yes, there are programs that can help reduce the costs of compliance with LL97. These programs are designed to provide financial assistance, technical support, and other resources to help building owners implement energy efficiency measures and reduce their greenhouse gas emission: 

New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC): A non-profit organization that provides financing and technical assistance to building owners for energy efficiency retrofits. NYCEEC offers low-interest loans and other financing options to help building owners pay for energy efficiency upgrades, such as lighting retrofits, HVAC system upgrades, and building envelope improvements. The organization also provides technical support and guidance to building owners throughout the retrofit process.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Commercial Tenant Program: Provides financial incentives to tenants in commercial buildings that reduce their energy use. The program offers financial incentives to tenants who install energy-efficient equipment and implement energy-saving practices.

Additionally, the New York City Department of Buildings provides technical assistance and resources to building owners to help them comply with LL97. You can visit their Getting Started guide and compliance guide for more information.

Building owners can also consult with qualified professionals, such as engineers and architects, to determine the most effective and cost-efficient measures for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and complying with LL97.

How can the use of building analytics software help building owners comply with LL97?

The use of building analytics software, such as CIM's PEAK platform, can help building owners comply with New York LL97 in several ways, including:

Emissions Tracking: Building analytics software can help building owners track their greenhouse gas emissions in real-time, which can help them stay within the emissions limits set by LL97. The PEAK platform provides a comprehensive view of energy and water consumption and GHG emissions data, allowing building owners to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement.

Performance Benchmarking: Building analytics software can also provide performance benchmarking against similar buildings, allowing building owners to compare their energy management performance with that of their peers. This can help building owners identify areas where they can improve their energy efficiency and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Retrofits Identification: Building analytics software can help building owners identify potential retrofits that can reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By analyzing data from various systems in the building, such as HVAC, lighting, and water systems, building analytics software can identify areas where improvements can be made.

We're here to help! Request a callback, and let's discuss how we can help you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions to comply with LL97.

For more information on LL97, head to the NYC Sustainable Buildings page.

To see how other state energy efficiency regulations affect your building portfolio, check out our articles on New York Local Law 87 (LL87), the Los Angeles Existing Buildings and Water Energy Efficiency Program (EBEWE), and New York Local Law 84 (LL84).

With an increasing focus on sustainability and reducing emissions, state energy efficiency regulations are becoming more and more ambitious. Having a LEED certified building is one way of ensuring compliance with local or state regulations. Check out our blog on LEED Certification for more information.

CIM Team
April 5, 2023
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