Remove Barriers to Backup & Natural Gas Generators


Legislation at a Glance

17: Remove Barriers to Backup Natural Gas Generators


Local Law 111 of 2013


Existing regulations require buildings that voluntarily provide backup, standby generators to supply backup power for at least one elevator in addition to whatever other loads the buildings may want to power. This increases generator size and costs, making backup generators too expensive for some buildings. Other regulations discourage natural gas generators, which are clean burning and can power buildings for extended periods without fuel deliveries. This legislation expands the use of standby generators instead of the more expensive emergency generators, and limits the number of buildings that have to power an elevator with the generator. In addition, natural gas is allowed for generators in all buildings, and fuel cells are allowed as a power source.

New Requirements or Changes

Effective: December 2, 2013

Amendments to Section 2702.4 of the NYC Building Code:

Existing buildings that add generators must provide power for emergency lighting and fire alarm systems. They only must provide power to an elevator if they are a multifamily residential building over 125 feet, or any other building over 75 feet.

NYC Administrative Code, Section 27-3025, amending Sections 700.1, 700.4, 700.5, 700.6, and articles 701 and 702 of the 2008 National Electrical Code:

Natural gas is allowed as a fuel source for standby generators in all buildings and for emergency generators in only R-2 multifamily occupancies. Fuel cells are now allowed for use in all standby systems and for required emergency systems in multifamily residential buildings.

Required standby power systems (NEC Section 701) are restored to the NYC Electrical Code, joining the existing categories of required emergency and optional standby systems. Previously, required standby systems were reclassified as emergency systems with more stringent requirements. The requirements for required standby systems closely match those for emergency systems, including methods for acceptance, installation, maintenance and operational testing. Fuel (excepting natural gas) must be stored on-site for six hours of full-demand operation of the system.

Amendments to Sections 402.12, 403.10, 403.11, 404.6, 405.9, 405.10.1, and 414.5.4 of the NYC Building Code:

Standby and emergency systems are both required for high-rise buildings and underground buildings, though a single emergency system may be used to meet both requirements. Only life safety loads are required to be provided power from the emergency system and other loads being provided power from the standby system.

Only multifamily residential buildings covered by this code taller than 125 feet must power an elevator.

Amendments to Section 909.11, 909.20.6.2, 1007.4, 1007.5, 1008.1.3.3, and 1707.7 of the NYC Building Code:

Various modifications have been made to adjust the code for the restored category of required standby systems.


The Department of Buildings will enforce these requirements as part of its normal permitting and inspection process.

Implementation Notes

There are no known issues with fulfilling the requirements of this legislation.