New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Climate Tech Industry Pushes to Keep Local Law 97 Intact

New York City

Local Law 97, co-op and condo pushback. Tech for Local Law 97, climate change, building carbon emissions.
Aug. 14, 2023

There has been no shortage of pushback against Local Law 97, the linchpin of the city's ambitious Climate Mobilization Act. Co-ops and condos have filed a lawsuit to block the law, which requires larger buildings to reduce their carbon emissions under prescribed caps — or pay stiff fines. A bill before the city council seeks to push enforcement from 2024 to 2031. And various measures seek to exempt garden apartment complexes.

Now there's pushback to the pushback.

More than 200 innovators in the booming sector of climate technology are calling on Mayor Eric Adams to resist appeals to weaken Local Law 97. Calling itself Tech for Local Law 97, the group has sent a letter to Adams encouraging his administration to prioritize the law not just as an essential measure to combat the climate crisis, but also to foster the city as a burgeoning hub of climate technology, Crain's reports.

“We understand that you are under intense pressure from well-organized special interests seeking to weaken or even gut this landmark piece of legislation,” the letter states. “We therefore call on you to stand strong in the name of urgent climate action, certainly, but also because climate-tech is the future.”

It's worth noting that the dozens of technology innovators behind the letter — including BlocPowerTurner Construction and Square Root Urban Growers — stand to profit from Local Law 97, and likely would benefit more if it is strictly enforced. Even so, if nothing changes, most buildings that are over 25,000 square feet, including co-ops and condos, must begin to comply with Local Law 97’s carbon emission caps less than five months from now. About 80% of the buildings covered by the law already meet the 2024 caps, but that number will decline sharply as the caps become more stringent in the future.

Compliance can be a time-consuming endeavor that depends on a mix of factors: building type, age, finances, and how well — or poorly — a building is maintained. Retrofits can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, if not millions, and financing those upgrades falls squarely on the property owner. However, there are significant funding sources available from utilities and city, state and federal governments.

To understand those funding options and plan their carbon-reduction strategy, co-op and condo boards are advised to connect with the city's free NYC Accelerator program to help get them started. Owners who believe high emissions from their buildings are due to a "special circumstance" have until January 1, 2025 to apply for an initial emissions cap adjustment. To apply for an adjustment, visit DOB NOW.

Department of Buildings officials issued the first batch of rules that govern the law in January, but key questions remain, including details around enforcement, additional financing tools, and how the city will reduce fines or alter longer-term emissions targets for owners who can prove they’ve made a “good faith effort" to comply. That second batch of rules is expected to be released this summer. Many co-op and condo boards are waiting with a mixture of hope and dread.

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