What is Local Law 97?
Local Law 97 is a law localized to New York City that requires businesses to meet certain standards of onsite and offsite causes of carbon emissions and energy usage. This new law requires most buildings over 25,000 square feet to comply with standards published by the Law. Based on the type of building use and occupancy, you will be required to meet a maximum emission intensity limit measured by (tons of CO2 per square foot) of your building or face penalties.
Meaning, if you go above the allotted CO2 emissions rate for your building, you’ll receive a penalty charge of $268 per ton of carbon. A New York business whose building is going well over their CO2 rate each month would be looking at some hefty annual fees.
When Does This Law Go Into Effect?
While the penalties for Local Law 97 don’t start until January 2025, now is the time for businesses to be looking into cleaner energy sources and energy-efficient products/solutions because the 2025 penalties will be based on the 2024 achievements. The bar for city carbon emissions has been set, but there are plans to continue to decrease these emission intensity limits by 2030. In short, this is not a phase or something to ignore. If businesses in New York City don’t start taking their emission usage seriously, the emissions limits and financial consequences will only worsen.
The “Net Zero” Emissions Goal
The goal “within the goal” of Local Law 97 is to get the United States carbon neutral by 2050. Local Law 97 is just one piece of the puzzle to push society towards resilient and sustainable living. Out of the top ten cities in the entire world with the most carbon emissions, the United States is responsible for three: New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But what are the steps we need to take to get to net zero emissions?
Here’s the plan!
- Solar and wind energy sources need to increase times 3.5
- Coal-sourced electricity needs to be eliminated whenever possible
- Natural gas generation needs to remain consistent
- The use of zero-emission cars must increase by 50%
- Sale shares for heating pumps should grow by 50%
- Buildings and appliances need to follow the new energy efficiency guidelines
- Implementation of carbon R&D for carbon capture
- The use of more carbon-neutral fuels
- Development of electricity transmission and pipelines for CO2 and hydrogen gasses
The Cost of Non-Compliance
The graph below covers Local Law 97’s occupancy building types and the corresponding CO2 emission intensity limits per square foot. If your building is operating outside those limits, your penalty will be costly. While you may feel ‘forced’ into investing in energy-efficient solutions, remember, these investments save you money in annual energy costs too.
In fact, the ROI from penalty avoidance could be two to seven times the ROI you get from the investment in energy savings. Right now, the outbound interest in energy efficiency is still in its “early adoption phase,” so the price tag of investing in these resources pays for itself a few times over.
Local Law 97 vs. Clean Energy DC
As you may have guessed, New York isn’t the only city developing plans to decrease its CO2 emissions. Washington D.C. has also drafted a program known as Clean Energy DC. Let’s compare how these two initiatives differ.
Local Law 97
- Law applies to buildings with over 25,000 square feet
- Compliance goals are based on GHG emission maximums
- Reduction requirements go by building type
- Emission rates will be set in 2024 and readjusted again in 2030
Clean Energy DC
- Not as strict as Local Law 97
- If your building doesn’t meet 20% emission reduction, it’s a fee of $10 per square foot
- Compliance is based on Energy Star Building Type and EUI
- Buildings like colleges and hospitals are maxed at a $7.5MM cap
Changing the Way We View Energy Efficiency
Before you start researching the best solar panels for your office building, you must understand energy efficiency begins with reducing your consumption. So, hold off looking into green energy alternatives, and first, explore less expensive solutions that decrease the amount of energy your building uses.
Want to learn more? See how NGS can lower your annual energy usage with the help of energy modeling technology and window film installation.