Understanding Local Law 97 and Its Impact on NYC’s Green Initiatives

November 8, 2023

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In recent years, New York City has become one of the leading cities in passing legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With their city buildings accounting for approximately two-thirds of their overall emissions, former Mayor de Blasio made a bold commitment to reduce these emissions and make the city carbon neutral by 2050. A significant step towards achieving this ambitious goal is through the passing of Local Law 97, which will be taken into effect beginning in 2024.

Local Law 97: A Key Component of the Climate Mobilization Act

Local Law 97, a crucial component of the Climate Mobilization Act, was passed by the City Council in April 2019, aligning with the Mayor’s New York City Green New Deal. This law outlines a comprehensive strategy to tackle emissions by decreasing and/or eliminating the carbon footprint of certain city buildings.

Goals and Targets of Local Law 97

The primary objectives for Local Law 97 are to reduce emissions produced by the city’s largest buildings by 40 percent by 2030 and a remarkable 80 percent by 2050. To achieve this, buildings over 25,000 square feet must adhere to new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions limits by 2024, with even stricter limits taking effect in 2030. Moreover, Local Law 97 established the Local Law 97 Advisory Board and Climate Working Groups to provide guidance and advice to the city on the best practices to meet these ambitious sustainability goals.

Local Law 97 primarily targets buildings that exceed 25,000 gross square feet, however, it also encompasses clusters of buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 50,000 square feet and buildings owned by a condo association governed by the same board, totaling over 50,000 square feet. These criteria are designed to address emissions from the city’s most substantial buildings while providing clarity on affected properties. Starting in 2024, buildings that exceed their annual emission limits will face a fine of $268 per ton of CO2 equivalent over the limit. Emissions will be calculated based on tons of CO2 equivalent per square foot.

Chart of Local Law 97 penalties

Source: NYC Accelerator: New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act

There are some exemptions and compliance pathway options for properties such as affordable housing buildings, outlined within Local Law 97, ensuring that its application is both effective and fair. There are also numerous free resources available through NYC Accelerator for property owners to help them meet the new building requirements.

Staying Informed

To remain informed about Local Law 97 and its evolving implications, a valuable resource is the Department of Buildings (DOB) Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting website. This website provides detailed information about emissions limits, exemptions, and compliance guidelines.

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Headshot of Sean Hart