In December 2009 the New York City Council enacted a series of bills intended to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings in the city. Each of the four bills addresses a different aspect of improving energy efficiency in the city's buildings as follows: energy conservation standards for building renovations; annual energy benchmarking and disclosure; mandatory lighting system upgrades and tenant sub-metering; and mandatory energy auditing, retro-commissioning, and retrofits. The initiatives described here, along with several other related pieces of legislation, are part of a broad effort which the city calls the "Greener, Greater Buildings Plan". Some important details of each law are described below.
Council Bill No. 564-A (Local Law 85 of 2009): Requires that renovations of existing buildings meet minimum energy conservation standards. The result of this law is essentially a city energy code (the New York City Energy Conservation Construction Code) based largely upon the Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State, but with amendments to more broadly apply it to renovations of existing buildings. Prior to the enactment of this law, energy conservation standards applied only to new construction projects and building alterations resulting in the replacement of at least 50% of a building's systems or subsystems. Under the revised code, additions, alterations, renovations, and repairs must generally conform to the energy code as if they were new construction. An "alteration" generally includes any construction or renovation that requires a permit and an "addition" generally includes any extension or expansion of the conditioned space, floor area, or height of a structure.
Unaltered portions of a building; certain alterations that do no increase energy use; and projects involving historic and landmark buildings are exempt from one or more aspects of the code. The law is effective for all projects that submit construction approval documents to the Department of Buildings on or after July 1, 2010. The basic structure and purpose of the energy code law remains the same, but it has been revised and updated twice since the original enactment by Local Law 48 of 2010 and Local Law 1 of 2011.
Council Bill No. 476-A (Local Law 84 of 2009): Requires building owners to perform energy and water use benchmarking in certain city- and privately-owned buildings at least once annually. The requirements for city buildings generally cover buildings of 10,000 square feet or larger that are owned by the city or for which the city pays the energy bills. Benchmarking is also required for privately-owned buildings larger than 50,000 square feet; multiple buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 100,000 square feet; and multiple condominium buildings owned by the same board of managers that together exceed 100,000 square feet. Certain public and private properties are exempted from the requirements. Benchmarking was required to be performed by May 1, 2010 for city buildings and May 1, 2011 for privately-owned buildings.
Owners are required to upload data into an internet-based database tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that is used to track and assess energy and water use relative to similar buildings. The Department of Finance was required to make the resulting data publicly available by September 1, 2011 for city buildings; September 1, 2012 for non-residential private buildings; and September 1, 2013 for residential private buildings. These reports are now available on the program web site link at the top of this page.
Council Bill No. 973-A (Local Law 88 of 2009): Requires that building owners upgrade the lighting systems in all existing buildings that exceed 50,000 square feet; multiple buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 100,000 square feet; and multiple condominium buildings owned by the same board of managers that together exceed 100,000 square feet (termed "covered buildings"). All upgrades must be performed by January 1, 2025 in accordance with the lighting standards for new buildings in existence at the time of the upgrade. Exemptions are provided for lighting systems are in compliance with the city energy code as it existed on July 1, 2010, as well as those located within certain occupancy group classifications. The bill also requires that all electricity use in tenant spaces larger than 10,000 square feet that are located within "covered buildings" be sub-metered by January 1, 2025. As with the lighting upgrade requirement, certain tenant spaces are exempted from the requirement.
Council Bill No. 967-A (Local Law 87 of 2009): Requires energy audits and retro-commissioning be performed for all existing buildings that exceed 50,000 square feet; multiple buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 100,000 square feet; and multiple condominium buildings owned by the same board of managers that together exceed 100,000 square feet. Energy audits must cover all "base building systems", defined to include the building envelope, HVAC systems, conveying systems, domestic hot water systems, and electrical and lighting systems. Retro-commissioning must be done in accordance with a detailed set of specifications under the broad categories of: operating protocols, calibration and sequencing; cleaning and repair; and training and documentation.
Building owners are required to submit energy efficiency reports to the Department of Buildings that include both an energy audit report and a retro-commissioning report. The due dates for the first set of reports range from 2013 - 2022 depending on the last digit of the building's tax block number, with subsequent reports due every decade. The requisite energy audits and retro-commissioning must be completed no more than 4 years earlier than the date on which the energy efficiency report is submitted. Some buildings already certified as being highly energy efficient are exempt from the requirements under certain circumstances.