New York City has released its long-awaited final rules on how buildings owners, including co-op and condo boards, can cut their buildings emissions enough to comply with Local Law 97, which goes into effect less than two weeks from today, on Jan. 1, 2024.
Among the finalized rules in the package announced by the Department of Buildings (DOB) are details for the first compliance period (2024-2029) on how building owners can show they are making a "good-faith effort" to reduce carbon emissions in order to mitigate penalties and instead continue to invest that money into energy efficiency retrofits. Also included is a framework for retroactive enforcement if building owners fail to follow through with the retrofit projects detailed in their building-specific decarbonization plan. Finally, there's a new limitation on the ability of property owners to purchase renewable energy credits, or RECs, during the first compliance period. Building owners are able to meet their emission caps by purchasing RECs without actually reducing their own carbon emissions.
This is New York City, so reactions to the new rules are, predictably, divided. “This is one more important step to make our world-leading climate law practical, implementable and real,” says John Mandyck, CEO of the nonprofit Urban Green Council, a major force in the writing of Local Law 97. “We applaud DOB for establishing forward-looking and actionable compliance pathways in this rule-making to achieve the carbon savings that are needed.”
Some environmental groups, on the other hand, see the rules package, especially the "good-faith effort" and REC provisions, as gifts to the real estate industry, whose biggest players contributed generously to Mayor Eric Adams’s mayoral campaign. In a joint statement reported by amNY, four environmental groups — Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, TREEage, and New York Public Interest Research Group — called the good-faith effort provision a “two-year or more delay” and RECs a “corporate buy-out loophole.”
Also disappointed in the rules package were some co-op and condo owners who have sought to weaken or overturn the law, arguing it places unfair financial burdens on middle-class homeowners. Geoffrey Mazel, a lawyer for the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council (PCCC), sees little to like in the new rules. “It’s not a game changer," he says. "It’s not really gonna help most of the most vulnerable co-op owners in the city. It’s really baby steps as far as we’re concerned.”
Leaders of the PCCC sued the city last year, hoping to overturn the law. The suit was dismissed in Manhattan Supreme Court in October.
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