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What NYC regulations around infrastructure and energy apply to NYC co-op and condo buildings?

October 10, 2023 - 12:30AM
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NYC Roof
In a nutshell
Infrastructure and energy efficiency regulations that co-ops and condos must comply with include facade inspections, HVAC system requirements, plumbing codes, electrical safety standards, elevator regulations, parking garage inspections, and a new crop of ambitious legislation that aims to drastically reduce carbon emissions across the city's housing stock.

Co-ops and condos need to comply with a seemingly ever-expanding number of regulations. Many of these are geared toward making aging infrastructure safe for residents and passers-by, while a new crop of ambitious legislation aims to drastically reduce carbon emissions across the city's housing stock.  

Here are the major energy and infrastructure regulations that your building may need to comply with along with some signs that you may not be in compliance, and a general sense of the costs your building may incur.

Building Envelope

In accordance with the NYC DOB Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), formerly Local Law 11 of 1998, every five years a façade inspection must be performed on all buildings that are greater than six stories in height.

These inspections must be accompanied by a report submitted to the Department of Buildings (DoB) describing the building as either;

  • Safe
  • Safe with a repair and maintenance program (SWARMP)
  • Unsafe 
  • The report must include a description of required repair work, along with a timeline for performing the repairs, and it must be signed by the building owner and the professional engineer or registered architect responsible for the inspection.

Cost: The cost for FISP can be substantial and as regulations have become stricter, it has increased over the years. 


There are several regulations in NYC that pertain to the HVAC systems of co-op and condo buildings. A more in-depth explanation of these are located under Brick Underground's Sustainability vertical.

  • Local Law 84 of 2009: Benchmarking
  • Local Law 87 of 2009: Retro-commissioning
  • Local Law 97 of 2019: Limits buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of reducing the city's carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
  • ASHRAE 90.1-2010: This is a national standard for energy efficient buildings, and it provides the minimum requirements for the design, construction, and operation of HVAC systems. This standard applies to all new buildings and major renovations in NYC.
  • Building Code of New York State (BCNYS): This code sets the standards for the construction, alteration, maintenance and repair of buildings in New York State. 
  • NYC Mechanical Code: This code sets the standards for the installation, alteration, repair and maintenance of mechanical equipment and systems, including HVAC systems, in New York City. 

Cost: The cost to upgrade or replace the HVAC system is substantial and it requires careful planning and consideration.


There are national, state and city plumbing codes intended to ensure that the systems are safe, efficient, and in compliance with local codes and standards. Some of the main regulations include:

  • Local Law 152 (LL152) was passed in 2016 in response to an increase in fatal gas explosions. The law requires that New York City buildings with more than two dwelling units have their gas piping system periodically inspected by an NYC-licensed master plumber, with the initial inspection occurring during one of the subsequent four years, and periodically every four years following, with initial submission dates determined by Community District Location. The first round of inspections was in 2020. 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal agency that is responsible for protecting human health and the environment by enforcing laws and regulations related to environmental issues. Besides regulating the use of certain chemicals and materials that are used in plumbing systems, the EPA also enforces regulations related to the disposal of hazardous waste, such as used oil, antifreeze, and pesticides, which can be generated by plumbing systems.

  • The EPA also has a program called "WaterSense", which is a labeling program that helps to identify and promote water-efficient products, including plumbing fixtures such as toilets, shower heads, and faucets that have been certified to be 20% more efficient than standard products with the same performance.

Cost: Most of the plumbing system is located inside the walls and not immediately visible to inspect or maintain, or even replace. Old plumbing pipes can become corroded, damaged, brittle, or clogged, which can lead to leaks, blockages, or even burst pipes. These leaks can cause massive water damage to the building, increase the water bill, as well as insurance premiums. The cost of replacing the piping inside the walls can be significant, not to mention the inconvenience for residents.


The electrical systems of NYC buildings are regulated by federal, state, and local electrical and building codes. They are also regulated by the NYC Fire Code.

Look out for: Be aware of signs of electrical issues such as flickering lights or burning smells.

Cost: Because a majority of buildings’ wiring and components are inside the walls, it is difficult to inspect and repair them, which can lead to safety hazards. 

Electrical boxes are typically visible, both the electrical main panel in the basement, and the electrical boxes inside the apartments. These are quite costly to replace. However, the Inflation Reduction Act provides rebates and incentives for both the boxes themselves as well as the work.


In response to an increase in elevator accidents, due in part to aging elevators, the DOB added four regulations in recent years.

  • Category 1 (Cat-1) inspections need to be performed every year
  • Category 5 (Cat-5) inspections is a more in-depth inspection performed every five years
  • Door lock monitor (DLM) needed to be installed by January 1, 2020 
  • The periodic inspections must now be performed by an approved elevator agency that is not affiliated with the agency performing the elevator maintenance. 
  • Effective January 1, 2027, all traction elevators are required to have an emergency brake. 

These regulations and inspections might seem like a hassle, but they are all there to keep everyone safe. Part of a board’s job is to keep up with new regulations, so communicating with the property manager, the elevator consultant, or elevator service provider is an important part of serving on the board.

Cost: Elevators are quite expensive to replace. The upside is that it only needs to be done every 30-50 years.  

Inconvenience: Replacing elevators, aka modernization, or elevator mod in short, is a huge inconvenience for New York residents, especially in the buildings that only have one elevator. Boards need to carefully plan and schedule the elevator mod with consideration for all residents.

Parking Garages & Parapet Inspections

In accordance with Local Law 126 of 2021, parking garages with more than three parking spaces need to meet the Periodic Inspection Requirements. 

The law requires owners of parking structures to have their garages inspected every six years, and to file a report with inspection results to the Department of Buildings.

Inspections and reports must be conducted by a Qualified Parking Structures Inspector (QPSI).

QPSI’s will create an annual observation checklist during the initial assessment prescribing baseline inspection items to be assessed annually or at more frequent intervals by or on behalf of the parking structure owner.

Local Law 126 also requires buildings taller than two stories to inspect their parapet annually.   

Cost: The cost for LL126 can be substantial, especially the first cycle, which started on January 1, 2022. 

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]