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Local Law 97

What is Local Law 97?

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Sets carbon caps for buildings over 25,000 square feet

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Allows multiple ways to comply, including for affordable housing

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Starts in 2024 and drives toward net zero emissions by 2050

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Includes large fines for exceeding carbon caps

50,000

buildings

60%

of NYC’s building area

50%

of NYC building emissions

In 2019, New York City enacted Local Law 97 to drive deep emissions cuts from buildings, which are responsible for more than two-thirds of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions. The law places carbon caps on most buildings larger than 25,000 square feet — covering nearly 50,000 properties across NYC. 

It is the most ambitious building emissions legislation enacted by any city in the world, and it incorporates many recommendations from Urban Green’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership.

Local Law 97 phases in carbon caps through 2050

Starting in 2024, many aspects of the law will phase in over time. Carbon caps will become more stringent over a series of compliance periods through 2049. In 2050, all buildings will have to meet zero emissions requirements. Explore Local Law 97’s timeline below.

Carbon caps vary across 60 property types

Local Law 97 places emissions limits on individual buildings that are measured in carbon emissions per square foot. Each building’s carbon limit depends on its size, property type and compliance year. 

Starting in 2024, the law assigns emissions limits for 60 different property types from Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager that reflect the wide variation in energy use among buildings. Those limits ratchet down over five compliance periods, so each building will be allowed to emit less carbon over time. Explore the law’s carbon caps for some of the key property types below.

Buildings emit carbon when they use energy

A building’s carbon footprint comes from its total energy use across a variety of fuel types – like electricity, natural gas or fuel oil. The law assigns a “carbon coefficient” to specify the carbon content for each fuel type. A building’s annual emissions are determined by combining total energy use for each fuel type multiplied by its corresponding carbon coefficient. 

The carbon from electricity use by buildings will go down over time as the grid gets cleaner. Local Law 97’s electricity carbon coefficient for the 2030 compliance period is about 50% cleaner than the one assigned for 2024, and aligns with New York State’s ambitious mandates for renewable energy deployment. As this happens, electrifying building systems that traditionally use fossil fuels—like heat and hot water—will be key for lowering carbon.

There are many ways for building owners to comply

To meet a building’s carbon limit, owners can lower carbon directly through energy efficiency and switching to lower-carbon fuels. They can also use credits from eligible renewable energy generation (RECs) or greenhouse gas reduction projects (GHG offsets), or install solar or battery storage onsite to help meet the law’s targets.

Certain types of affordable and income-restricted housing have delayed or altered requirements. And some covered buildings—like houses of worship and buildings with more than 35% rent-regulated units—fall under the law’s definition for “Article 321 buildings”, and must perform a prescriptive checklist of low-cost energy upgrades by 2024 rather than meeting the law’s carbon caps.

Many buildings will have to take action before 2030

Based on today’s energy performance, about 20 percent of properties are over the caps set for 2024, while about 76 percent of properties are over the caps set for 2030. Those numbers vary somewhat across property types. Check out the details in the graphics below.

Latest updates

December 2022

  • Following over 300 Advisory Board and Working Group meetings with more than 100 stakeholders, the Local Law 97 Advisory Board Report was delivered to DOB and includes a comprehensive set of recommendations that will inform the department’s final rulemaking on the law.
  • NYC DOB finalized Rule 103-14 for Local Law 97. This rulemaking specifies details on property types, 2030’s electricity carbon coefficient, emissions limits for later compliance periods, renewable energy credits, and guidance for technical compliance.
  • On December 15, Laura Popa, Deputy Commissioner for Sustainability at DOB, joined us on Urban Green Live to talk about the new Bureau of Sustainability, the latest on the Local Law 97 Rules, and what comes next.

October 2022

June 2022

  • NYC Council approved a budget that includes $2.4 million for the DOB Office of Building Energy Emissions Performance to oversee the implementation of Local Law 97.

October 2021

  • The DOB issued a bulletin clarifying that energy used to charge plug-in electric vehicles won’t be included in emissions from buildings under Local Law 97.
  • NYC released clarification on the guidelines for certain types of affordable housing. Full guidelines and FAQs.

80x50 Partnership

Urban Green’s role in the development and implementation of Local Law 97

Urban Green is actively engaged in the law’s Advisory Board and Working Group to ensure effective implementation. We also took on a leading role in the law’s development through our 80×50 Buildings Partnership.

Download the Local Law 97 summary

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