USA: NYC starts first compliance period for building emissions reduction law

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Local Law 97 Energy efficiency standards Greenhouse gas emissions Compliance period Building emissions limits

Building emissions: Impact and Compliance of New York City’s Energy Efficiency Standards on Large Buildings

Nearly 50,000 of New York City’s largest buildings must adhere to new energy efficiency standards and greenhouse gas emission limits that go into effect in 2024, according to Local Law 97, which began its second compliance period on Monday.

Buildings larger than 25, 000 square feet are required by law to reduce their emissions by 40 % by 2030 and by 80 % by 2040. If they show a” good faith” commitment to uphold the law, buildings that cannot meet the 2024 emissions caps may reduce noncompliance penalties for up to two years.

Based on the square footage of the building and the emission factor specific to the property type, the law sets emissions limits for 60 different property types starting in 2024. For instance, data centers have a limit on the intensity of building code emissions per square foot for the 2024–2029 compliance period of 0.00846 metric tons of CO2 equivalent, while hotels and K–12 schools have limits of 0. 087 and 0. 758 tCO2 both.

Progress and Prospects for building emissions

According to the DOB, building owners may ultimately be subject to a $268 fine for each ton of carbon dioxide equivalent they emit in excess of their monthly allowance. But, as the first penalty period of the law begins, New York City’s buildings are outperforming original compliance projections, allaying worries in the real estate sector about how difficult it will be to comply with the laws. Although almost half of the city’s buildings were no cooperative in 2019, according to city data, 89% of them are now on track to achieve the 2024 emissions-reduction targets. But, according to 63% of larger buildings are now taller than their 2030 targets.

According to Owen Glubiak, vice president of revenue at Cortex Sustainability Intelligence, “most of the buildings that have already deployed technologies… will be cooperative for the second compliance period, 2024- 2029 .” According to him, its clients, including Class A professional real estate owners in New York, use technology to match business energy reduction initiatives with building performance.

New credit for building electrification

On December 18, the Department of Buildings approved the second major rules package for LL97, establishing a new credit for building electrification and defining what constitutes “good faith effort” to comply. The reduction in penalties has been criticized by critics, who point out the extra economic harm that would come from allowing higher emissions for an extra two years. Saleh ElHattab, the founder and CEO of Gravity Climate, which offers energy efficiency and electrification solutions for building managers, warehouses, and manufacturers in New York, said,”I’m splitting the difference between activism and pragmatism. We should push these laws to be stricter, but we should be realistic about how successful buildings are. Arm-twisting is never a surefire way to be successful. I believe the winning recipe is to encourage building owners and operators with carrots in addition to those more strict regulations, according to ElHattab.”

Additionally, the law establishes requirements for energy conservation for filled buildings that must be operational by December 31. Maintaining heating systems, fixing heating system leaks, adjusting heat and warm water temperature set points to reflect acceptable space occupancy and facility requirements, installing personal temperature controls, or installing insulated radiator enclosures with thermostat controls on each radiator are a few of these tasks.

Strategies and Challenges for New York City’s Building Sector

According to Frank Cuomo, public manager at Consolidated Edison, energy conservation is the cornerstone of a larger decarbonization strategy. To cut down on energy use, “you have to squeeze your building and facility as many as you can.” And those are the investments you make in the building’s heart and lungs when you can no longer, he said. The second step, he said, should be to squeeze your loads as much as possible or maximize the efficiency of your current systems.

Glubiak noted that some energy-saving measures, like efficient start-up or shut-down sequencing, ongoing commissioning, demand management, and fault detection, can be obtained for little to no cost. According to him, these modifications result in an average 10 % to 20 % reduction in energy use, carbon, and cost.

Expected year-over-year increases in electricity consumption and their reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels for heating, among various factors that make it difficult for buildings to comply with emissions standards. Higher energy consumption for both heating and cooling is even being driven by changing climate patterns, such as hotter summers and colder winters, according to ElHattab.

“Based on energy efficiency and electrification, we map out reduction pathways for our customers.” We frequently consider condenser loops, which are heating and cooling systems that use water to control chiller circuits. He explained that these systems sensibly set their temperatures and adjust them up or down while outlining the methods his company employs to address these issues. These are merely straightforward retrofits, he continued. It doesn’t necessitate significant building upgrades. The energy efficiency of your heating and cooling systems will increase by anywhere from 10 % to 40 % after these systems are retrofitted.

In a report on the state of LL97, New York City noted that existing legal structures are “generally in somewhat privileged communities,” highlighting the need for additional support for structures in less privileged areas. According to a city financial analysis, it will cost between $12 billion and $15 billion to build roughly 15, 000 buildings, which will be necessary to meet the law’s 2030 emissions limits at the current cost of current technology. Only $5 billion to $6 billion of those costs will be offset by energy savings, according to the city, which also noted that about 25% of buildings would be able to fully offset compliance costs in the future.

According to Cuomo, another buildings will need to take more expensive “heart-transplant” measures. “If you change out your building systems, you also change the building’s core.” Whether you’re replacing gas boilers, engineering planning, equipment acquisition issues, etc., all of these processes take time. Building owners and facility managers cannot achieve 2030 goals if they haven’t started considering their options by this point.

Matthew Boyle

Matthew Boyle is a distinguished Smart City Consultant, renowned for his expertise in IoT (Internet of Things) and cutting-edge urban technology solutions. With a deep understanding of Smart City initiatives, Matthew excels in leveraging IoT innovations to transform urban landscapes into efficient, sustainable, and connected environments. His strategic insights and hands-on experience in urban planning, data analytics, and IoT implementation make him a trusted expert in the field. Matthew Boyle is your go-to consultant for navigating the complex world of Smart Cities, ensuring seamless integration of IoT technologies, and unlocking the potential of data-driven urban solutions. With his guidance, your city can thrive in the digital age, enhancing quality of life and fostering a sustainable future.

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