March 19, 2010; UPDATE July 2, 2010 — Following the outcry by New York City co-op boards, condo associations and others in April 2009, when the City Council introduced bills mandating expensive energy-efficiency upgrades to buildings of 50,000 feet or more (click on image at left to enlarge), the legislation that passed in December backed away from that contentious part of the plan.
On July 1, 2010, the revised version that became law went into effect. As the city's Department of Buildings said yesterday in a statement, the New York City Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC) "is more stringent than the state code, requiring thousands of more building projects to meet energy efficiency requirements."
What does this mean for co-op boards and condo associations? Co-op and condo attorneys in March finally had a chance to examine the four new Local Laws, and analyzed the costs and ramifications for co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners.
Here are the basics: Four new laws were adopted, the texts of which we've linked below. Together, they create the city's new Energy Conservation Code, which as of July 1, 2010, will be added as the new Chapter 10 of the New York City Administrative Code's nine-chapter "Title 28: New York City Construction Codes."
The four news laws comprising the new Energy Conservation Code are:
The first notable thing about new code is that, unlike most past laws, it applies not just going forward, but to existing buildings, which are usually grandfathered or exempt in almost every other case of New York City codes being amended.
The second important thing to know is that in terms of privately owned (as opposed to city-owned) buildings, the three local laws that require action on your part (84, 87 and 88 — Local Law 85 simply establishes that there will be this new code) apply only to buildings of over 50,000 square feet (or two or more on the same tax lot together exceeding 100,000 square feet, or two or more condo buildings governed by the same board and together exceeding 100,000 square feet).
If your co-op or condo building is smaller than that, you're fine, we're done, you're good. And as long as you've got some time, why not go check out our Weekly New Products and find some cool new item or idea to present to your board.
The rest of you, follow me….
Now, if you're a building of over 50,000 square feet (or yadda yadda; see above), you're covered by the new code and so you're what the code imaginatively calls a "covered building." If you come across that term, relax — it doesn't mean that the code applies to all buildings with a roof.
Local Law 84
Local Law 84 — which, like the other two action-taking laws here, went into effect immediately upon passage in December — involves conducting a "benchmarking" of energy and water use no later than May 1, 2011, and then by every May 1st afterward. The code defines "benchmarking" as "input[ing] and submit[ing] to the benchmarking tool the total use of energy and water for a building for the previous calendar year and other descriptive information for such building as required by the benchmarking tool."
So what's a benchmarking tool? In this case, Local Law 84 — which evidently wasn't copy edited, since it misspells "Internet" and "Environmental Protection Agency" both in lowercase – mandates it be the U.S. EPA Benchmarking Tool, an energy performance rating system administered by the EPA's Energy Star program. (In true government-efficiency fashion, the EPA's own searches for it take you to a defunct page. Go instead to the Energy Star Portfolio Manager introductory page and its "Benchmarking" main page.) Unfortunately, the current tools are designed for commercial buildings. Are they applicable to residential? Who knows! Given the potential for confusion, at least Energy Star provides a list of companies that offer energy performance ratings through what they call "automated benchmarking."
What do co-op and condo boards specifically have to do? The law is confusing since it refers repeatedly to obtaining information for each "tenant's" energy use, and specifically says the city "may require that such owner provide such tenant with a form … to report such information." But tucked away elsewhere is the single phrase "other than a dwelling unit" — so "tenant" in this case means only commercial tenant, such as a ground-floor retail store.
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