Updated October 2021
To reduce carbon emissions from buildings, the City of New York enacted Local Law 97 (LL97) in 2019 as a part of the Climate Mobilization Act. This leading-edge law places carbon caps on most buildings larger than 25,000 square feet—roughly 50,000 residential and commercial properties across NYC. These caps start in 2024 and will become more stringent over time, eventually reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. Read our Local Law 97 Summary to learn more.
The law is the most ambitious building emissions legislation enacted by any city in the world. It incorporates many recommendations from our 80x50 Buildings Partnership, including more feasible timelines, a green power purchase option, a provision for carbon trading between buildings, and future refinement through an advisory board process.
- On October 5, 2021, the Department of Buildings issued a bulletin clarifying that energy used to charge plug-in electric vehicles will not be included in emissions from buildings under Local Law 97. The deduction applies to unidirectional EV chargers; a future bulletin will address bi-directional EV chargers (which can send power back to the grid). See the details in the full bulletin and highlights.
- In October 2021, the City released clarification on the guidelines for certain types of affordable housing. Full guidelines and FAQs—including for buildings where fewer than 35 percent of units are rent-regulated and certain types of income-restricted housing, like Mitchell-Lama rentals—can be found on the City’s Affordable Housing page.
- On April 12, 2021, the Department of Buildings began accepting applications for adjustments to a building’s 2024-2029 annual carbon limits. The deadline to apply for buildings with high emissions intensities, non-profit hospitals and healthcare facilities has passed. A recent DOB bulletin clarifies their adjustment rules. Full guidelines for adjustments can be found in DOB's technical filing guide, along with an Excel workbook that outlines calculations and documentation.
- The Department of Buildings has launched a Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting website with helpful instructions for those looking to clarify the details of Local Law 97.
- An amendment signed in November 2020 now requires covered buildings with 35 percent or fewer rent-regulated units to meet the law's carbon caps starting in 2026. Originally, a covered building with one or more rent-regulated units could choose to perform low-cost prescriptive measures instead of meeting the caps. Buildings with more than 35 percent rent-regulated units can still choose the prescriptive path. The expansion aligns with the State’s new rent laws and increases the impact of Local Law 97.
- Urban Green was appointed to two of the Advisory Board’s Working Groups: 1) Carbon Accounting, which will recommend final rules to the Advisory Board on methodologies for calculating and verifying building-level greenhouse gas emissions, and 2) Communications, which will recommend best practices for outreach and education to building owners, designers, and operators looking to comply with the law.
To refine the law and inform its implementation, a 16-member Climate Advisory Board was appointed in December 2019. The group consists of many of the city’s leading building professionals and stakeholders, including Urban Green Board Members Scott Frank, Fiona Cousins and Jill Lerner. In April 2020, the Advisory Board created eight Climate Working Groups to develop aspects of the law that have been left up to rulemaking.
- Clarification that the Department of Buildings can revise 2030 standards by rule, including using a different metric;
- Carbon emissions from electricity can now be based on time of use;
- Credits for GHG offsets and energy storage will extend to later compliance periods;
- Some previously exempt affordable housing must now comply with the prescriptive package of low-cost energy savings measures;
- Revisions to the treatment of natural gas fuel cells.
Local Law 97 requires that the city perform a study on the feasibility of carbon trading among NYC’s buildings as a potential compliance mechanism. The study must include methods to ensure equitable investment in and benefits for environmental justice communities. Led by NYU, the study is underway and a report on its findings and an implementation plan is expected by January 1, 2021.
Urban Green recently wrapped up our own nine-month convening as part of our Global Climate Efficiency Trading Initiative, and published Trading: A New Climate Solution for Buildings in June 2020 to inform the city's study. Based on these efforts, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability appointed Urban Green to facilitate stakeholder input for its official carbon trading study. The group began meeting in April 2020 and will continue to meet for the duration of the study.
You can sign up for our newsletter to stay informed on developments related to LL97. And learn more in our relevant publications:
- Local Law 97 Summary Sheet
- Local Law 97 FAQs
- Local Law 97 Retrofit Market Analysis
- Climate Mobilization Act: Sustainable Roof Laws Brief
- Going Electric: Retrofitting NYC's Multifamily Buildings Report
- From Blueprint to Bill
- Trading: A New Climate Solution for Buildings
Read coverage of the law in the New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Inside Climate News, and the Wall Street Journal. View the complete list of LL97 coverage featuring Urban Green here.