‘Getting 97 Done’: New York City Sets New guidelines for Local Law 97

Last week Mayor Eric Adams launched the “Getting 97 Done” plan, aimed at cutting harmful carbon emissions from the city’s large buildings. At the heart of this strategy is the implementation of Local Law 97, a groundbreaking law passed in 2019 with the goal of helping achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Local Law 97, which was a major step in NYC’s effort to combat climate change, mandates that the city’s buildings reduce their greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) recently unveiled a new set of proposed rules for the implementation of Local Law 97. These rules cover compliance, penalties, and incentives for building owners.

DOB is tasked with defining the criteria for determining if non-compliant buildings qualify for mitigated penalties. Buildings must demonstrate full compliance with various energy laws before being considered for “good faith” exemptions.

“Local Law 97 is one of the most important climate laws in the country, I’d argue, because it’s showing the way for other cities to follow,” said Rohit “Rit” Aggarwala, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection and the city’s chief climate officer, on NY1’s “Inside City Hall.”

“This is about mobilizing, there is a lot of action. We estimate between $12 and $15 billion in projects that have to take place between now and 2030 to get buildings into compliance,” said Aggarwala. “It’s going to create 140,000 jobs across the city, but we have to think about what it takes to get these projects across the finish line.”

Over 8,000 buildings, including affordable housing buildings and houses of worship, can comply with Local Law 97 by following the requirements set forth in Article 321. The proposed rules clarify what energy conservation measures these buildings must undertake as well as penalties for non-compliance.

The rules also introduce a new credit for early electrification work, encouraging the installation of energy-efficient electric heating, cooling, and hot water systems before 2030. They also provide long-awaited guidance for meeting Local Law 88 requirements related to lighting upgrades and sub-metering.

The “Getting 97 Done” plan identifies various sources of financial support, including tax credits, subsidies, and funding programs at the city, state, and federal levels. The goal is to make it financially viable for building owners, including those in disadvantaged communities, to invest in emissions-reduction measures.

The NYC Accelerator program, designed to assist building owners in complying with Local Law 97, will be expanded. The city will provide technical advice and information to buildings, ensuring they have the knowledge and resources needed to meet their obligations.

“With buildings as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City, Local Law 97 is critical to meeting our clean energy goals and tackling the ongoing threat of climate change,” said NYLCV President Julie Tighe. “By putting in place a set of robust and effective rules–rules that at once give building owners ample opportunities to comply with the law while also providing for tough enforcement mechanisms–the Department of Buildings has put this groundbreaking law on sound footing and a path to success.”

The plan recognizes that achieving decarbonization goals requires collaboration with various stakeholders, including state agencies, utilities, building owners, and financing organizations. Partnerships will be forged to align efforts and resources.

The compliance rate among covered properties has improved significantly, with only 11 percent currently not meeting their emissions limits for the 2024-2029 period. This highlights the effectiveness of the law and its potential for even greater success with the right support.

Through the strategic implementation of Local Law 97–which includes financial incentives, technical support, and partnerships–NYC is on track to become a greener and more sustainable city. 

09.17.23 // AUTHOR: Devin Callahan //