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Problem Solved: Avoiding Fines by Combining Roof and Facade Projects

Upper East Side, Manhattan

Local Law 97, building carbon emissions, green roof, solar panels, co-op and condo boards.
Feb. 28, 2023

As part of our ongoing Problem Solved series, Habitat spoke with Tina Larsson, co-founder and owner of the Folson Group, a consultancy that brings efficiency to co-ops and condos.

Caution, fines ahead. When the Climate Mobilization Act's Local Law 97 goes into effect next year, we’re seeing fines into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for buildings that don’t do any retrofits. We’re working with a very progressive board on the Upper East Side, a high rise building, and this board wanted to reduce their building’s carbon emissions and do the right thing for their residents and owners.

They were facing fines in 2024, and they wanted to develop the roof, so that’s what we did. We did it in a very cost-efficient way by rolling the roof replacement in with their mandated facade repairs under the Facade Inspection and Safety Program, or Local Law 11. They had already budgeted for the scaffolding and sidewalk sheds, so while that was up we went in and replaced the roof, installed a green garden and added solar panels.

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Don’t waste valuable space. This board specifically wanted to reduce the building’s carbon output. That was their end goal. The roof wasn't in bad shape, but it was no longer under warranty, so we came up with a solution of increasing amenity space and making the roof more useful for the owners. In our opinion, there's no reason not to use rooftops. There are over a million rooftops in New York City, and a few years ago fewer than 1,000 of them were actually being used. It's valuable space, so why not use it? We came up with this solution, and they now have a roof garden, there are many sitting areas, and the solar panels offset 25% of the electricity used for the common areas. And we cut costs by doing the work while the facade was being repaired. 

They will not be fined in 2024. As it stands right now, they’re facing a small fine in 2030, but we’re working on other projects to eliminate those fines before they hit. 

Act now. This story shows that there’s no better time to start than now. There are so many solutions to reducing carbon emissions, but you need to have a long-term plan and then roll out one project after another, then another, until you meet the ultimate goal of not being fined. To do that, you really need to start now, which is what this board did.

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