For Immediate Release: December 29, 2022
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BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT RELEASES LOCAL LAW 97 ADVISORY BOARD REPORT
Progress Made on Implementation of NYC’s Landmark Sustainability Law, Following Publication of First Policy Rule Earlier This Month
New York, NY – In the next step of New York City’s efforts to combat climate change, today the New York City Department of Buildings released the Local Law 97 Advisory Board Report, a collection of recommendations for the City to consider, crafted by a diverse array of stakeholders on the implementation of Local Law 97 of 2019. This law places limits on greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s largest buildings starting in 2024, which is the centerpiece of the City’s plan to meet aggressive reduction targets in emissions by calendar year 2050. The Advisory Board included architects, engineers, property owners, representatives from the business sector, public utilities, environmental justice advocates, and tenant advocates. This Board, along with several Climate Working Groups, was tasked with providing guidance to the Mayor and City Council on the fair and effective implementation of Local Law 97, rooted in maximizing emissions reductions and the law’s environmental, economic, and public health benefits for New Yorkers. The Department of Buildings coordinated more than 360 meetings with the Board and Working Groups over the past three years, debating tough questions on how to fulfill the goals of the law while ensuring equity among property owners and the communities impacted most by climate change. The report includes recommendations supported by a majority of Advisory Board members.
"The Advisory Board's report provides helpful guidance as the City implements Local Law 97 and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from large buildings," said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. "Thanks to the Department of Buildings, the Advisory Board, and Climate Working Groups, we are one step closer to our goal of getting buildings into compliance with Local Law 97 and maximizing the impact of this groundbreaking law."
“We were proud to bring a wide range of stakeholders to the table to help guide our work to implement Local Law 97, so that different voices and perspectives could be heard on the difficult issues surrounding climate action,” said Acting Buildings Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik, P.E. “I would like to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated significant amounts of time and expertise on the Board and in our Working Groups, which have already had a tremendous impact on helping the City reach a carbon neutral future.”
Buildings account for around two-thirds of the climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions here in New York City. In order to push back against the most damaging effects of climate change, the Department’s Bureau of Sustainability is tasked with overseeing a number of citywide initiatives to increase building energy efficiency and decrease carbon emissions. Chief among those initiatives is the implementation of Local Law 97, which places requirements on buildings greater than 25,000 square feet to meet carbon emissions limits or face penalties. By 2030, emissions from these covered buildings must be reduced by 40 percent, and by 2050, these buildings must achieve carbon neutrality. For many property owners to meet these limits, they will need to retrofit their buildings to increase energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel dependence. The Department of Buildings is tasked with implementing the law, including through the agency’s promulgation of rules.
On December 20th, 2022, the Department published the final version of the first of several agency rules, giving building owners significant guidance on how they can bring their buildings into compliance with the law’s first emissions limits starting in 2024. Many of the recommendations found in the Advisory Board report are already reflected in this first published rule. Additional recommendations from the Advisory Board report are scheduled to be included in forthcoming rules for Local Law 97, which will be announced early next year. Several additional recommendations from the report will require further study and action.
The Advisory Board was created by the Department of Buildings in accordance with requirements set forth by Local Law 97 of 2019. The work of the board was supported by seven Climate Working Groups, staffed with volunteer subject-matter experts. The Working Groups focused on key themes of the law’s implementation, including multifamily housing, economic impact, commercial buildings, hospitals, carbon accounting, communications, and the energy grid. Between the Advisory Board and the Working Groups, there were 363 formal meetings, accounting for approximately 682 hours. Work was also advanced during the many conversations that happened outside of the structured meetings between Working Group members, Board members, and Department staff. With this major milestone achieved, the Department of Buildings thanks the Advisory Board and Working Group members whose dedication and willingness to grapple with difficult questions have delivered these recommendations. As required by the law, a new Local Law 97 Advisory Board will convene in the coming years ahead of future compliance periods.
Property owners who require help meeting their emission targets can reach out to NYC Accelerator – a program of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice – which is available to provide free one-on-one assistance. In addition to personalized guidance on building retrofit projects, NYC Accelerator can assist owners in applying for low-interest financing and available incentive programs. Since 2021, NYC Accelerator has initiated over 12,900 projects and related activities in more than 9,300 buildings across the five boroughs.
“The Adams Administration is fully committed to implementing Local Law 97. This report moves us in the right direction toward bringing buildings into compliance and I want to thank the Department of Buildings, the Advisory Board, and Climate Working Groups for their informed perspectives and recommendations, which will benefit both property owners and impacted communities,” said Chief Climate Officer Rohit T. Aggarwala.
“This report will help inform the path forward to effective, clear enforcement of Local Law 97 and a cleaner future for New Yorkers,” said Kizzy Charles-Guzman, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice. “Strong partnerships like this are crucial to an equitable transition that focuses on improving the sustainability of our buildings and the environmental quality of our neighborhoods.”
“I am deeply grateful to the Advisory Board and Working Groups,” said Laura Popa, Department of Buildings Deputy Commissioner for Sustainability. “The Department is full steam ahead on implementing Local Law 97, and the thoughtful debate that went into this report will ensure our approach continues to prioritize common-sense solutions that protect the interests of all New Yorkers.”
“Congratulations to all the members of the Advisory Board and Climate Working Groups on reaching this milestone,” said Gina Bocra, Department of Buildings Chief Sustainability Officer. “The truth is we can already feel the effects of climate change, but thanks to these experts and their multiyear initiative to inform the implementation of Local Law 97, New York City is fighting back.”
"It's exciting that we've reached the culmination of the Advisory Board process tackling complex, critical implementation issues regarding New York City's landmark building decarbonization law," said Advisory Board Member Donna De Costanzo, Eastern Regional Director for the Climate & Clean Energy Program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). "The Department of Buildings did an amazing job shepherding this process forward, with a lot of hard, thoughtful work involving countless hours of time and the dedication of staff, as well as stakeholders. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to ensure the successful implementation of Local Law 97, improving New York City's buildings and all the health and climate benefits that will bring for New Yorkers."
“This report represents the culmination of many hours spent grappling with tough but necessary questions, the answers to which will help the Department of Buildings implement what is not only a major climate law, but a hugely consequential investment in the clean energy economy,” said Advisory Board Member Scott Frank, Managing Partner at Jaros, Baum & Bolles. “These recommendations comprise a vital roadmap, providing building owners and registered design professionals with the tools they will need to lower their buildings’ emissions. Thanks to the work that went into this report, Local Law 97 stands to be one of the biggest boosts to clean energy and energy-efficiency jobs in the history of New York City and its surrounding area.”
"These carefully-considered recommendations help to put meat on the bones of Local Law 97, the world's most-important city-level climate and jobs law. This is the culmination of an extraordinary process of professional review and consultation led by the Adams Administration's dedicated staff, which will help create tens of thousands of jobs to cut pollution," said Advisory Board Member Pete Sikora, Climate & Inequality Campaigns Director for New York Communities for Change.
“The Advisory Board worked to clarify the law in a way that it could be implemented with equity in mind across all neighborhoods,” said Advisory Board Member Jill Lerner, Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. “With everyone’s participation, the city will be cleaner and more resilient across all five boroughs in commercial, residential, and non-profit sectors.”
“The publication of the LL97 Advisory Board report to the City Council marks an important milestone in keeping New York City at the leading edge of climate change mitigation legislation. A huge thank you is due to all the volunteer members of the working groups for their time and effort in developing the recommendations. The process of consensus building across multiple technical disciplines and the way in which policy makers have brought in this technical advice are good examples of the concerted action that needs to happen to meet our current climate crisis,” said Advisory Board Member Fiona Cousins, P.E., Arup Fellow and Arup Americas Chair.
“This comprehensive report paves the way for successful implementation of Local Law 97 and includes proposals to support affordable housing retrofits,” said John Mandyck, CEO of Urban Green Council. “We applaud the dedicated staff at DOB and the many individuals – including from Urban Green’s board, staff and membership – who helped shape these impactful recommendations.”