Co-op and condo boards have been preparing for the 2024 and 2030 Climate Mobilization Act (CMA) deadlines for about a year and a half now. Until recently, there were two paths to reducing emissions: one for buildings with rent-stabilized units (or affordable housing like HDFCs), and one for everyone else. As long as a co-op or a condo had at least one rent-regulated unit, it could follow what was called the “prescriptive path,” a list of smaller, less expensive measures to reduce carbon emissions, such as insulating pipes and sealing windows. That’s no longer the case.
In late October, the City Council passed a surprise amendment to the CMA raising the bar for allowing a building to follow the prescriptive path. Now, a building is exempt from the general carbon emission guidelines only if 35% or more of its units are rent-regulated.
The effects of this amendment are going to be felt for the next several years. For starters, many buildings already affected by the CMA have spent the last 18 months evaluating their building systems and determining which measures will have the greatest effect on their energy efficiency, a head start that these newly covered buildings have not had. But all is not lost.
“There are certainly going to be drastic implications for buildings that are now covered under the CMA,” says Raymond Pomeroy, special counsel at the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. “But the legislation was amended at the last minute to grant an additional two-year period for buildings that are covered under this new legislation to comply. Most covered buildings have to begin complying in 2024, submitting their annual reports by May 2025. The buildings that are being roped in now have until 2026, and they don’t have to submit their first annual report until May 2027.”
While that two-year extension will undoubtedly be helpful, those boards recently added are going to have to do energy audits and benchmarking studies quickly to get a sense of how their current energy usage lines up with the limitations that they will now be subjected to. Not only that, but they have a shorter time between their first, adjusted CMA benchmarking deadline (in 2026-27) and the next major deadline in 2030. “There’ll be a lot of buildings that are OK in the initial compliance period,” Pomeroy says, “but they’re not going to be OK starting in 2030.”