As New York City's landmark climate legislation finally nears its long anticipated effective date, tensions surrounding the law's new guidelines (and “loopholes") are reaching their peak.
In 2019, New York City passed Local Law 97 as a key component of its Climate Mobilization Act. It requires buildings to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions limits beginning in 2024. The law applies to most buildings that exceed 25,000 square feet.
Beginning January 1, 2024, buildings will be expected to be in compliance with the City’s established carbon emission limits. By May 1, 2025, and annually thereafter, building owners will be required to submit a report to the City showing their carbon emissions for the year prior. Carbon emission limits will become progressively stricter beginning in 2030. Any building owner that submits a report showing that their building has exceeded their applicable limits will be fined. Any building owner that fails to submit a report by the reporting deadline will also be fined.
While most buildings are in position to meet the 2024 emission limits, questions remain around the approximately 10 percent of buildings not yet on track for compliance. For owners of these buildings, the simple answer may be to utilize a two-year extension option included in the proposed guidelines released by Mayor Eric Adams this September.
According to these guidelines, buildings may qualify for the two-year, fee-free extension if they would not be in compliance by the time the law goes into effect in January but can show “good faith efforts” were made to reduce emissions.
Advocates for the extension believe this is a fair way to strive towards the goals the law was intended to accomplish, while also recognizing the hardships it places on building owners. Those opposed to the extension believe owners have had ample time to come into compliance.
It remains to be seen how everything will play out come the New Year. However, bigger questions remain on the horizon, as approximately 70 percent of the City’s buildings do not yet comply with the stricter emissions guidelines that will go into effect in 2030.