Local Law 97 (“LL97”) is a New York City regulation that aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by setting carbon emissions limits for buildings over 25,000 square feet. This law is part of New York City’s commitment to achieving its ambitious goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050, compared to 2005 levels. The law was passed in 2019 and has since then been implemented in stages.
The underlying sustainability thresholds set forth by LL97 are expected to come into effect in 2024. The law requires buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to comply with a series of carbon emissions limits that will be gradually lowered over time. The first compliance period, which starts in 2024, requires buildings to meet a carbon emissions limit based on their occupancy group. The carbon emissions limit is expressed in pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per square foot, and it varies depending on the building’s occupancy group, which includes residential, office, institutional, and retail buildings.
Building owners in New York City may face a range of potential issues concerning compliance with LL97. One of the main challenges is that the law imposes significant penalties on buildings that fail to meet the carbon emissions limits. Specifically, buildings that exceed the carbon emissions limits will face a fine of $268 per metric ton of CO2e above the limit. This fine can quickly add up, particularly for larger buildings that emit more carbon.
Another challenge for building owners is that complying with LL97 may require significant investments in building upgrades and retrofits. For example, buildings may need to replace their heating and cooling systems, install energy-efficient windows, and improve insulation to reduce their carbon emissions. These upgrades can be expensive, and building owners may need to carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of making these investments to comply with the law.
When evaluating compliance with LL97, building owners need to consider a range of legal issues. One key consideration is whether the law applies to their building, and if so, what the compliance requirements are. Building owners should review the law’s occupancy group definitions, as well as the carbon emissions limits for each occupancy group, to determine their compliance obligations.
Building owners also need to consider the various compliance options available under the law, such as energy efficiency upgrades, renewable energy installations, and carbon offsets. Each compliance option has different legal and technical requirements, and building owners should carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of each option to determine the best path forward.
Finally, building owners need to consider the potential legal risks associated with non-compliance. In addition to fines, non-compliance with LL97 could lead to lawsuits, reputational damage, and even the loss of the building’s certificate of occupancy. Building owners should consult with legal counsel to understand their compliance obligations and the potential legal risks associated with non-compliance.
In conclusion, Local Law 97 is an important regulation that aims to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions by setting carbon emissions limits for buildings over 25,000 square feet. While compliance with the law may be challenging, building owners can take steps to evaluate their compliance obligations and the various compliance options available to them. By carefully considering the legal issues associated with compliance, building owners can ensure that they meet their obligations under the law and avoid potential legal risks. Please feel free to contact Burrell Law to discuss the legal issues related to non-compliance with Local Law 97.