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Unlocking Local Law 97: Your Guide to 2024 Building Limits and Beyond

27 Feb 2024

Buildings account for the bulk of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in New York City.

A staggering two-thirds of New York City’s emissions come from the built environment. This is an unsustainable figure. Even more so at a time where global emissions targets are at a critical junction.

Public officials, legislators and action groups have come together to combat the contribution of NYC’s buildings to the city’s carbon footprint. A mandate, coined Local Law 97, was passed in 2019 aimed at addressing these greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In it, emissions targets are set at 5-year intervals. 2024 marks the beginning of the first one. We are already seeing the implications of this across commercial real estate.

Read on to learn more about how Local Law 97 is shaping the future of buildings, and how to not fall on thew wrong side of changing emission caps.

In this article we’ll look at:

Understanding Local Law 97

2024 targets and beyond

Strategy for Getting 97 Done

Best tools that will help deliver on Local Law 97

View of New York Skyline with high rises and bridge for a blog post on Local Law 97

What is Local Law 97 (LL97)

Simply, Local Law 97 is a piece of legislation that was passed by New York City Council in 2019. It set out to completely alter the trajectory of New York’s emissions profile.

Under the law, most buildings over 25,000 ft2 are required to:

  • meet energy efficiency ratings
  • meet new GHG emissions limits
  • bring emissions down by 40% by 2030
  • achieve net zero by 2050

These are huge, necessary, targets. Luckily those affected have had some time to prepare. LL97 builds on from the groundwork laid out via Local Laws 84 and 87 (LL84 and LL87). These earlier pieces of legislation worked to provide benchmarking data. It’s from this dataset that future targets have been derived.

As we mentioned, 2024 marks the beginning of the reporting period during this 5-year interval. The first compliance reports for buildings covered by LL97 are due by May 1, 2025, and reflect emissions in calendar year 2024.

At this time, you might ask what are the consequences of non-compliance, apart from environmental implications? According to the City of New York’s governmental website – buildings that exceed their annual building emissions limit will be liable for a civil penalty. A fine up to the difference between the actual emissions vs stated emissions limits, multiplied by $268.

With major jumps in caps scheduled every 5 years, it pays to take heed early.


How 2024 targets are looking

Current progress is good. As of the latest figures available, 8% of buildings are yet to meet 2024 limits.

Though it is important to flag that this limit was introduced as a ‘warmup period’ according to Assistant Director for Environmental Sustainability and Resiliency at NYC Mayor’s Office, Ross MacWhinney. In essence, most buildings had to do little to no work to meet current targets.

Looking ahead, a big downward trend is required to align with the original 80% reduction by 2050 trajectory. Now, when you factor in the shift to net-zero by 2050, the slope’s gradient steepens again.

The targets established for upcoming periods are as follows:

2024-2029: 20% reduction from the benchmark

2030-2034: 60% reduction

2035-2039: 70% reduction

2040-2049: 80% reduction

2050 onwards: net-zero

This puts things into perspective. We’re only 6 years away from the next cap target, which requires a 40% drop from the current limit. Data from Urban Green Council shows that 60% of offices fall outside of this.


New York Skyline of high rises for a blog post on Local Law 97Strategy for Getting 97 Done

Mayor Eric Adams’ “Getting 97 Done” strategy comprises four crucial components aimed at Local Law 97 compliance:

  • free technical guidance via NYC Accelerator
  • financing and funding routes for building upgrades
  • enforcement mechanisms by the Department of Buildings
  • decarbonizing central systems in partnership with New York State.

Reducing buildings’ emissions is crucial. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all remedy. Time and costs involved will vary dramatically depending on the building. As mentioned, most buildings did not require much retrofitting to fall in line with 2024-2029 targets.

Now is the time to gear up towards the next targets. Building owners have some mechanisms to achieve this including:

  • investing in GHG offsets
  • moving to clean energy suppliers
  • developing energy efficiency strategies
  • creating initiatives to modify behaviour
  • installing renewable energy sources and utilising credits

These approaches are diverse yet united by a common goal – understanding and managing a building’s energy usage. However, navigating this journey can be daunting. It requires dedication, analysis, and strategic decision-making.

Every step taken benefits the environment and positions building owners at the frontier of environmental sensibility and forward-thinking.

This is where we at Smart spaces come in. Our technology guides building owners and occupiers towards their sustainability targets. Our technology has delivered the most advanced smart buildings in the world.


Best tools that will help deliver on Local Law 97’s objectives


Smart Building OS

Stay ahead of the shifting limits set out by LL97 with the Smart Spaces Operating System. Our innovative platform takes building intelligence to new heights, offering a secure cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) framework.

Seamlessly interfacing with the data from modern building systems, it empowers you to harness the full power of your infrastructure. From optimising energy usage to enhancing security measures, the Smart Spaces Operating System revolutionises the way you manage and utilise your building. Elevate your building’s efficiency, productivity, and sustainability.


Digital Twin 2.0

Transform your building management with the power of the Digital Twin 2.0. Serving as a dedicated IoT platform, it empowers facility management teams to achieve peak efficiency in operating and maintaining building devices.

With its capability to capture and analyse crucial data like energy monitoring, CO2/VOC levels, indoor light intensity, and occupancy levels, the Digital Twin becomes the cornerstone of enhanced workflow and operational optimisation.

The Smart Spaces® Digital Twin portal elevates Building Information Modelling (BIM) by integrating operational, engineering, and information technologies. By collecting and transforming building data into actionable insights, it offers a comprehensive understanding and enhancement of your properties’ capabilities.

Embrace the convenience of our technology for managing ESG plans. Smart Spaces® empowers you to stay compliant with Governance rules while maintaining a clear focus on your property portfolio’s goals.

Reach out to us to find out how we can help you achieve your compliance targets.

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