Here's an inconvenient bit of news for the co-op and condo boards and other real estate interests seeking to portray Local Law 97 as draconian, punitive and impossible to meet: building owners, including co-op and condo boards, are cutting their carbon emissions and complying with the law much faster than the city expected.
In New York City, buildings generate more than two-thirds of carbon emissions. Beginning in 2024, buildings larger than 25,000 square feet must reduce their carbon emissions under prescribed caps, or face stiff fines. The city estimated that 80% of the covered buildings already comply with the 2024 caps, though that number will fall drastically when the caps become more stringent in 2030.
But a preliminary review by the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) shows that only 11% of New York's buildings — about half of the projected 20% — are not currently on track to meet the requirements. And that 11% still has more than four months to make changes.
“This shows that the law is having its desired effect, that building owners are finding the resources and the technologies to come into compliance, and that they are taking it seriously," Rohit Aggarwala, commissioner of the city's Department of Environmental Protection, tells Bloomberg Law.
Pete Sikora of the grass roots New York Communities for Change notes that buildings that were very wasteful have the biggest opportunity to cut emissions through simple fixes such as insulating exposed heating pipes, tuning their boilers, operating their HVAC systems properly or switching to LED light bulbs. “It’s really basic stuff that they should have already been doing,” Sikora says.
The DOB is expected to release a second round of rules on compliance with Local Law 97 this summer, including possible exemptions for buildings that make "good faith" efforts but fail to meet their caps, and allowing non-compliant buildings to purchase renewable energy credits from solar and wind farms.
For now, says John Mandyck, CEO of the nonprofit Urban Green Council, the city's new findings illustrate an encouraging fact. “Local Law 97 is working," he says. "It’s sending a market signal, and the market hears it.
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