What’s Your Building’s Efficiency Grade?

Posted on December 3rd, 2019

DoReceive LL97 updates by email you know your building’s energy efficiency grade? If you own a benchmarked building in New York City, you’re going to have to share your building’s “report card” with everyone who enters, starting in October 2020. Moreover, failure to do so may cost you $1,250 or more. This requirement is interrelated with LL97, the Climate Mobilization Act, but there’s more to it. Read the full story below.

Showing Everyone Your Grade

Local Law 33 of 2018 which is now embedded in the Construction Code of the City of New York says in part,

§28-309.12.2 – Energy efficiency score and energy efficiency grade required. In 2020 and in each calendar year thereafter, an owner of a covered building shall use the benchmarking tool to provide an energy efficiency score for such building to the department in accordance with the rules of the department…”, and

§28-309.12.3 – Display of energy efficiency score and energy efficiency grade. Within 30 days after the owner of a covered building obtains an energy efficiency grade, such owner shall post such grade and the energy efficiency score upon which such grade was based in a conspicuous location near each public entrance to such building, in a form and manner established by the department.”

The Code says that failure to benchmark a covered building may result in a quarterly $500 fine.

Drip, Drip, Drip

The Department of Buildings is now proposing, among other changes, the following “tweak” to the LL33 language to include:

“Failure to annually post the energy efficiency grade and the energy efficiency score for the building within thirty (30) days after October 1, the date upon which the energy efficiency grade will be available, in accordance with the requirement of section 28-309.12.3 of the Administrative Code, may result in a penalty of $1,250.”

While this minor addition is straightforward, it likely exemplifies what’s to come for owners of covered buildings: the continual drip, drip, drip of new, changed and partial rules and regulations. This minor clarification is simply the latest iteration of what started with Local Law 55 of 2007, the original New York City Climate Protection Act. In 2009, a collection of local laws known as the Greener, Greater New York Building Plan expanded upon LL55/2007:

  • LL84 creates the concept of benchmarking covered buildings for energy and water use,
  • LL85 established the New York City Energy Conservation Code or “NYCECC”,
  • LL87 required certain buildings to undergo professional energy audits and retro-commissioning, and
  • LL88 called for upgraded lighting and the installation of sub-metering in certain buildings.

Local laws affecting New York City building owners have been passed in virtually every year since 2009, eventually culminating in the now-famous LL97 passed in April of 2019. However, even that was insufficient. LL147 was passed just two months later to clarify and update LL97. Drip, drip, drip.

Even the simple change above in §28-309.12.3 leaves plenty of uncertainty when it talks about the posting of grades, “in a form and manner established by the department”. The form and manner are not yet specified, and there is no indication of when or how that information will be made available. Drip, drip, drip.

Stopping the Drips

There will be no stopping of the regulatory drip, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Local Law 97 became effective on November 14, 2019. However, far from being a useable set of rules and regulations, details of LL97 have been left to be determined some time before January 1, 2023 by the soon-to-be-formed Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance (OBEEP). Like the tweak described above about the $1,250 fine, many changes and new provisions of LL97 will have to go through the lengthy process of study and evaluation, drafting, committee approvals, revision, language development, public comment and so forth before they become usable. Drip, drip, drip.

As things stand today, building owners may have as little as a year (calendar year 2023) to address any LL97 compliance issues once all the regulations are settled. Meanwhile, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) will be changing the electrical and energy landscape throughout the state. Add in questions about the supply of natural gas, and owners have every right to be totally confused about much more than building grades. Drip, drip, drip.

Dealing with the Drips

As a building owner, you can deal with the regulatory drips by:

  • Determining the baseline of your building’s energy and emissions performance,
  • Developing a set of actions to reduce energy consumption and emissions: one set independent of future regulations and another set to address changing or worst-case regulations, and
  • Looking to your emissions & energy solutions provider to help you plan, organize and implement your actions and alert you to the inevitable regulation changes.

When it comes to dealing with the regulatory drips and their potentially expensive consequences, owners of many of the largest and most prestigious buildings in New York City turn to Trystate Mechanical for full range of building, energy and emissions-focused services including energy audits, retro- and existing building commissioning, renewable, CHP and alternative energy solutions, HVAC upgrades, microgrids, energy storage, project financing, engineering, project implementation, electricity supply and more.

Trystate has been serving building owners since 1976 and is proud to be backed up by the talent and resources of Equans, a leader in the worldwide energy transition.

To help keep you informed, Trystate has developed a website where you will find answers about emissions regulations, energy and electricity in New York City and State, past, present and future. The website also helps you stay up to date with the regulatory drips by putting news about emissions and energy changes that affect building owners right in your inbox. See it here:

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