Updated August 2020To 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.
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, Mark Chambers, 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.
Buildings with one or more rent regulated tenants are currently exempted from LL97’s carbon caps. A new bill introduced in the City Council in May 2020, if passed, would require large residential buildings with 35 percent or fewer rent-regulated units to meet the caps. The expansion aligns with the state’s new rent laws and would increase the impact of Local Law 97.
Urban Green was appointed to the Advisory Board’s Carbon Accounting Working Group, which began meeting in June 2020. This group will recommend final rules to the Advisory Board on methodologies for calculating and verifying building-level greenhouse gas emissions.
After passing LL97, City Council later passed technical amendments to the building emissions law under Local Law 147 of 2019, including:
- 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.
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.
Learn about key points of the law and ask your pressing questions at Urban Green’s Local Law 97 Webinar on September 10.