New York City approved a new energy code – the 2020 Energy Conservation Code – in spring. The code will require both new and existing buildings to meet stricter energy efficiency requirements. These include improving the building thermal envelope to limit heat loss and higher energy efficiency requirements for heating, cooling and lighting systems. Some other features include building metering for large buildings and infrastructure for future installation of electric vehicle chargers in one- and two-family homes.
This follows on the heels of the Climate Mobilization Act passed in April 2019, which aims to make New York City carbon neutral by 2050. To accomplish this goal, all buildings over 25,000 sf will have to cut emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Local Law 97 – the piece of legislation that focuses on reducing building-based emissions for over 57,000 buildings across NYC – sets out two initial compliance periods: 2024-2029 and 2030-2034. Another component of the Act calls for the installation of sustainable roofing such as green roofs or photovoltaic electricity generating system for all new construction and buildings undergoing major renovations.
Buildings account for the largest production of greenhouse gases (CHG) in New York City. Most emissions come from the electricity and fuel used to heat, power and cool homes, offices, institutions etc. Transportation and waste disposal account for the rest. More than 80% of the energy used for these activities is sourced from the combustion of fossil fuels. Multifamily and commercial buildings comprise nearly two thirds of the total square footage of buildings in New York City and produce the most GHG emissions. Small buildings and homes account for the largest number of buildings but produce a smaller percent of GHG emissions.
Buildings over 25,000 gross square feet must meet annual whole building carbon intensity limits during the compliance period. Certain building types such as affordable housing, hospitals, houses of worship and city owned buildings will have alternative compliance options if they are unable to meet the carbon intensity limits. Building owners are required to submit an emissions intensity report every year starting in 2025.
Local Law 96 passed along with the building emissions law established a loan program – Property Assessed Clean Energy – PACE financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The program awards low upfront costs and low interest rates and can be repaid through a building’s property tax bill. A green roof tax abatement resolution also included in the Act, would increase property tax abatement for the installation of a s green roof to $15 per square foot providing incentive for property owners to install green roofs.