Next-gen lean and green NYC-owned buildings

New legislation will make city-owned buildings among the most efficient in the country.

Published March 18, 2016

Today, the New York City Council passed two laws that show NYC truly leads by example. The new legislation—701-A and its sister 721-A—both amend the city’s current LEED law, strengthening existing sustainability requirements and introducing new measures that will make NYC-owned buildings among the most efficient in the country. Most striking? Most new city buildings and major retrofits will need to achieve LEED Gold and cut energy use in half.

When Urban Green began working with the city on this legislation over two years ago, a top priority was to set goals that were ambitious but achievable. Crucial to accomplishing this was the wealth of data on energy now available through LL84, NYC’s benchmarking law. This enabled the city to establish the first data-driven energy targets in the country—a new type of metric that many experts think will be necessary for us to achieve 80% carbon reductions by 2050. (To find out more, take a look at

The passage of these two bills also represents a homecoming of sorts for Urban Green. Executive Director Russell Unger played a major role in drafting NYC’s groundbreaking LEED law a decade ago—LL86 of 2005, which required LEED for new city construction—and this new legislation ushers it into the post-Paris era of policies that will deliver deep carbon reductions.

We commend the City Council for passing a bill that brings the law up to date and puts NYC on the leading edge. The impact of this legislation will extend far beyond the city’s vast municipal portfolio, which amounts to 5% of the city’s building stock. New York’s designers and builders will need to create a new generation of hyper-efficient buildings that will ultimately advance building practice in the city’s private sector as well, and have worldwide implications given the international reach of many NYC firms.

What you need to know

701-A: A data-driven law that cuts energy use in half for municipal projects.

721-A: A law that broadens and deepens sustainability for municipal projects.

Further Reading

Waste Heat Energy Recovery Technologies

Learn about waste heat recovery and the state-of-the-art technologies that are available to help you optimize energy use in your building!


Financing Energy Upgrades 101 (Part 1)

Looking to reduce costs in your building? This panel with NYC Accelerator breaks down the barriers to financing your energy upgrade projects.


Financing Energy Upgrades 101 (Part 2)

In Part 2 of our Financing Series with NYC Accelerator, we discussed equipment loans and 'energy-as-a-service' contracts.