The New York City Council voted unanimously last October to expand Local Law 84 (LL84)—part of the city’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan passed in 2009—to bring even more buildings into its energy efficiency fold, which was then signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio in November.
LL84 requires owners of large buildings to annually benchmark their energy and water consumption in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, an online tool that measures all utilities. After measuring and recording the data, property owners then submit usage data to the City by May 1 through Portfolio Manager. Buildings owners that do not conform are penalized at $500 per quarter until it is submitted.
As LL84 was originally written, buildings over 50,000 square feet are required to submit their usage data. But October’s ruling now expands coverage to buildings 25,000 square feet and above, something buildings owners should be aware has occurred.
According to the Urban Green Council, New York City’s affiliate of the U.S. Green Building Council, these changes add nearly 10,000 properties to the benchmarking tool—totaling nearly 350 million square feet—and brings the square footage of benchmarked space in New York City to 57 percent. These measures are important, because as Urban Green points out, buildings account for 70 percent of the city’s carbon pollution, 95 percent of its electricity use and 80 percent of its water use.
Owners of these mid-sized buildings can breathe easy for now, as Local Law 133 delays the benchmarking requirement for these newly affected buildings until utilities implement automatic upload of benchmarking data, which Urban Green anticipates by 2018. The City is also required to provide benchmarking assistance and exempt owners from violations if they make a good-faith effort to comply with the new rules and seek assistance at least 60 days before their data is due to the city.
After submitting data, each building is given an ENERGY STAR score based on its energy efficiency. This score is a screening tool that helps building owners and managers asses how their buildings are performing and assists them in identifying which buildings need improvement. The median score is 50; 75 is very good; and 100 is the best you can be.
The City looks favorably upon buildings with high ENERGY STAR scores, and excellent scores certainly help owners in compliance of Local Law 87, which requires buildings over 50,000 square feet undergo periodic energy audit and retro-commissioning measures (building thresholds for LL87 were not impacted by October’s changes). Tenants are also increasingly taking these scores into mind as they seek new space—they don’t want to walk into a building that burns more energy than it should, as it demonstrates poor building maintenance.
Buildings with scores of 75 or higher are also eligible to receive ENERGY STAR certification, which shows the market properties committed to reducing energy, saving money and helping protect the environment. According to the EPA, these buildings, on average, use 35 percent less energy; generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions; cost $0.54 less per square foot to operate and have higher rental and occupancy rates.
The changes to LL84 impact Original Energy’s customers throughout the five boroughs, and we’ve been working with many of them to conduct a pre-audit questionnaire and prepare them for the new changes. While the majority of the property use questions posed by Portfolio Manager are obvious—for instance, building use, gross floor area and operating hours—owners and managers have to consider other factors. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Multifamily: Resident population type; whether it’s government subsidized housing; the number of laundry hookups in units and common areas and percentage of the building that can be heated and cooled
- Office: The number of workers on the main shift; the number of computers and percentage of the building that can be heated and cooled
- Retail: The number of workers on the main shift; the number of computers; the number of cash register; the number and length of refrigeration/freezer units; cooking facilities; exterior entrance and percentage of the building that can be heated and cooled
- Parking: Whether it’s open, partially enclosed or completely enclosed
Addressing your building characteristics and structure early is key to successful compliance. By conducting a pre-audit and inspection of building features like insulation on all heating and hot water pipes, and weather stripping at all exterior doors, owners and managers can identify key deficiencies and address them before the new LL84 rules are enacted.
For more information on Local Law 84 and our other energy services, contact: