City Approves Progressive Changes to Landmark Building Emissions Standard

Mayor de Blasio recently signed Intro 1947 into law. The bill expands Local Law 97, which last year put limits on carbon emissions from buildings, to include many rent-regulated buildings which were originally excluded.

“Fighting climate change and increasing access to safe and stable housing are crucial to making New York City an equitable place to live for generations to come,” Mayor de Blasio stated at his press conference. Local Law 97, considered one of the most ambitious pieces of climate legislation in NYC to date, intends to drastically cut building emissions, which contributed to over two-thirds of the city’s total GHG emissions in 2019.

Local Law 97, enacted in 2019 as part of the Climate Mobilization Act, is part of a citywide plan to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050 (80X50), compared to the 2005 base year rate. The law requires a majority of new and existing buildings to meet carbon emission limits per square foot in 2024 and 2030. Intro 1947, introduced by Councilmember Constantinides, amends the definition of rent-regulated accommodations exempted from the legislation. Buildings with at least one rent-regulated unit were originally exempt from the law, but now, buildings are only exempt if more than 35% of its units are rent regulated. This revision will require more buildings to comply with Local Law 97. Certain covered buildings, where at least one unit is regulated under either the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974, the Rent Stabilization Law of 1969, or the Local Emergency Housing Rent Control Act of 1962, are granted additional time for compliance. Covered buildings will not have to cap annual building emissions until January 1, 2026, and submission of a first report will not be required until May 1, 2027.

Beginning in 2024, emission limits will affect the most carbon-intensive 20% of buildings. These buildings are over 25,000 square feet, and must meet carbon intensity limits depending on the occupancy group of the building. Building emission intensity is measured as the number of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per square foot per year. By 2025, building owners must issue an annual emissions intensity report or will be subject to steep fines. Emission caps will change in the years that follow: limits set from 2030–2034 will affect the most carbon-intensive 75% of buildings.

Buildings owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) are subject to different requirements than those set for private buildings. LL97 states these buildings are expected to reduce emissions 40% by 2030 and then 80% by 2050. The NYCHA Climate Mitigation Roadmap states these reductions are required for all NYCHA buildings (and private buildings on NYCHA land), but they are exempt from financial penalties. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability can offer remedial support in case NYCHA fails to achieve these goals.

Mayor de Blasio also signed Intro 2072 into law. This requires the City to extend outreach and education efforts regarding Local Law 97. Specifically, the City must inform building owners about building emissions limits, building emissions intensity limits, and compliance. This is necessary for building owners so they can better understand and accommodate the new standards. This will be carried out by the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance, which will be a newly created office to oversee phases of Local Law 97.

Implementing LL97 will bring NYC to the forefront of climate change mitigation by applying increasingly strict regulatory standards over time. Since these regulations will put pressure on many building owners, it is up to the city to provide the needed support and tools for these standards to be met. NYLCV will continue to advocate for and support the funding, programs, and incentives that are needed to successfully realize this climate change legislation.