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Urban Green Council Holding Free Webinar on Local Law 97 Draft Rules

New York City

Local Law 97, Urban Green Council, building carbon emissions, carbon caps, renewable energy.
Oct. 28, 2022

Earlier this month, the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) released its long-awaited draft rules on how building owners, including co-op and condo boards, can cut their buildings’ carbon emissions to bring themselves in compliance with Local Law 97.

Now comes the hard part: understanding the rules. To that end, the nonprofit Urban Green Council is hosting a webinar with DOB personnel to help boards understand both the rules themselves and how they can voice their comments before a public hearing on Nov. 14. The city plans to finalize the draft rules by the end of the year so they can be put to a vote by the city council.

Urban Green Council’s free webinar will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1. To register, click here. Meanwhile, the Urban Green Council has plucked five of the most important things to know from the dense 28-page package of rules:

1. New property types added. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager is the well-established tool for tracking building energy use. Local Law 97 originally set emissions limits on 10 occupancy group classifications. The proposed rules add 60 property types that more accurately reflect the variation in energy use among buildings. This shift will help tailor emissions limits to that variety, including for property types that use more energy, such as supermarkets and data centers.

In a client advisory, a team of lawyers at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan applauded the addition of 60 property types: “The expansion of occupancy-use groups…will allow building owners to calculate their building greenhouse gas emissions limits more in line with the building’s actual uses and energy needs, and will lead to a fairer, more representative emissions limit.”

2. Building carbon emission limits set to 2050 — and beyond. The proposed rules assign new emissions limits for each new property type from 2030 through 2049. From 2050 onward, a zero emissions requirement applies to all property types. For 2024 to 2029, the proposed rules preserve Local Law 97’s original 10 emissions limits but distribute those limits across the additional Portfolio Manager property types, creating better-tailored targets for all buildings. It’s estimated that 80% of buildings won’t have to make any retrofits to comply with carbon caps in 2024. The caps become much more stringent in 2030 and beyond.

3. A 2030 carbon coefficient will support electrification. The electricity carbon coefficient is used to calculate the carbon content of the electricity that a building consumes each year. The proposed rules specify an electricity coefficient for 2030 to 2034 that is about 50% lower than the one that applies for 2024 to 2029. This change reflects major new clean energy coming to New York City in the next few years, from such renewable sources as wind, solar and hydroelectric power. The shift from fossil fuels to electrification will become an increasingly crucial strategy for buildings to meet the law’s carbon caps.

4. Limits are placed on renewable energy credits. Local Law 97 allows building owners to deduct or offset annual building emissions through the purchase of renewable energy credits. The proposed rules clarify that these deductions are limited to emissions from building electricity use, which would ensure that credits for the purchase of green electricity aren’t used to offset fossil fuels burned onsite for heat and hot water.

5. Answers to questions on technical details and compliance. The proposed rules provide much-awaited guidance on many aspects of compliance, including details on deductions for solar power and energy storage, and methodologies for calculating emissions from cogeneration systems, garden communities and electricity according to time of use. The time-of-use provision will reward buildings that cut their energy use at times of peak demand.

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