New York City building owners could get some relief in meeting the city’s new climate law deadlines that require buildings to reduce carbon emissions starting in 2024. This is according to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB), which recently clarified regulations detailed in Local Law 97.

NYC’s Local Law 97 requires most city buildings over 25,000 square feet to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions limits by 2024.

Local Law 97 requires most NYC buildings over 25,000 square feet to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions limits by 2024. These upgrades can include, for example, high-performance improvements to facades and windows. Passed by the City Council in 2019, the goal of the law is to reduce emissions produced by the city’s largest buildings by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

With the law set to take effect in a few months, DOB officials spelled out the rules in an effort to alleviate property owner’s concerns regarding fines of $268 for every ton of emissions above the limit. Officials told property owners that if they make a “good faith effort” to meet the sustainability requirements but don’t achieve them by the 2024 deadline, they can possibly get two more years before fines hit.

“Enforcement of Local Law 97 is one of the most significant and complex mandates we have at our department,” DOB commissioner Jimmy Oddo told AMNY. “The comprehensive Getting 97 Done plan and the latest tranche of proposed agency rules were designed to maximize climate mobilization by assisting property owners working to comply with the law while also giving real teeth to our enforcement procedures.”

According to Bloomberg, only 11% of the 40,000 buildings covered under the law will be out of compliance next year. Around 63% of buildings would be out of compliance with the stricter 2030 standards.

Non-compliant buildings can delay the compliance deadline and avoid penalties from 2024 to 2026 by proving a “good faith effort.” To do this, property owners must agree to submit a detailed “decarbonization plan” to reduce emissions.

The plan requires a landlord to undergo an independent energy audit of the property, showing valid decarbonization efforts. This includes itemizing alterations and retrofits needed and proving the projects can be completed and funded in a timely manner.

Property owners opting for a “good faith effort” exception cannot purchase renewable energy credits (REC) for compliance. Buying RECs allows building owners to comply with the law without making any changes to the building, such as installing solar panels or improving insulation.

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