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What are the main NYC energy efficiency laws that apply to co-op and condo buildings?

October 10, 2023 - 12:30AM
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In a nutshell
New York City's energy efficiency laws can be sorted into three main groups: measure, shame, or fine. The measure category includes Local Law 84 that requires benchmarking. The shame category includes Local Law 33, which mandates public posting of energy efficiency scores. The fine category encompasses the Climate Mobilization Act and Local Law 97, which impose significant fines to incentivize sustainable practices and retrofitting to meet carbon emissions requirements.

Under the leadership of Michael Bloomberg, who served as New York City mayor from 2002 to 2013, significant effort was made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city. His administration passed local laws that require large buildings, including residential buildings exceeding 25,000 square feet, to track their energy and water consumption patterns (initially, the requirement applied to buildings exceeding 50,000 square feet but was later revised to half that size). 

Measuring and benchmarking efforts began so that strategies to improve efficiency could be identified and implemented. An oft-repeated adage in business is “What gets measured gets managed.” The corollary, “What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done,” is applicable to many things in life and business, so these early requirements to track energy use were a laudable start. 

While some of the NYC energy laws may seem confusing, they can be grouped into three main categories: measure, shame, and fine.

  • Measure. Benchmarking was initiated under the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP), a 2009 plan started by the Envi­ron­mental Protection Agency (EPA), and has continued to be a valuable strategy. Any of the laws that require measurement or scoring fall into this category.
  • Shame. LL33, which requires posting energy efficiency scores, falls into this category. If you have walked down the streets of New York City, you have probably noticed that most buildings now have a “D” posted by their main entrance. (In our estima­tion, however, it’s quite possible that those buildings with an “A,” “B,” or even a “C” submitted inaccurate or incomplete data.) Additionally, by making reports available online, your building’s detailed performance is available for everyone to see.
  • Fine. The Climate Mobilization Act and the Local Law 97 are bold sustainability plans, proposed with the stated intention of protecting our environment. As noted, the fines they impose will be significant. To avoid them, your building should already be planning your retrofits.  

New York City’s current energy-efficiency laws are numerous. Here are the primary laws that impact most residential buildings:

New York City’s Main Energy Efficiency Laws
Local Law 84 (LL84)
  • Benchmarking
  • Buildings larger than 25,000 square feet
  • Report energy and water usage in the Energy Star Portfolio Manager
  • Deadline: May 1st every year
Local Law 87 (LL87)
  • Retrofit
  • Buildings larger than 50,000 square feet
  • Energy audit performed by a qualified energy auditor
  • Retro-commissioning measures for “base” building systems such as the HVAC, electrical, and hot water systems to ensure optimal operational efficiency. 
  • The retrofit audit lists all mechanical systems that are not working properly and need to either replaced, repaired, or tuned up for proper function. 

December 31, every 10 years

Local Law 33 (LL33)
  • Energy efficiency scores posted near the building entrance. 
  • Buildings larger than 25,000 square feet 
  • Deadline: October 31 

Local Law 97 (LL97) is
part of the Climate
Mobilization Act of 2019

  • Fines will be imposed for buildings that do not meet carbon emission limits
  • Buildings larger than 25,000 square feet
  • Fines will be based on energy used in 2024
  • Fines will increase based on energy used in 2030
  • Fines will increase even more in 2035
  • Additionally, fines for misreporting energy use, which most buildings do, even if unintentionally, are up to $90,000 per quarter. 


Tina Larsson Headshot
Tina Larsson is the co-founder of The Folson Group, New York City's leading co-op and condo consultancy. A prominent speaker on proactive co-op/condo leadership and ESG matters, Tina is the author of Living the High Life: How Smart Co-op and Condo Owners Protect Themselves and Their Investment. In... [read more]