Understanding New Local Laws 84 and 87: Benchmarking and Energy Efficiency Auditing!

Both residential and commercial buildings are the most energy intensive items in society. In New York, they account for 75 percent of the greenhouse gases and energy consumption in the city. As a result, in December of 2009, Mayor Bloomberg signed the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. This was the most comprehensive set of efficiency laws in the nation.

The objective was to increase the energy efficiency of the city’s existing buildings and new construction. The target is aimed at reducing annual citywide greenhouse gas of CO2 emissions by 4.5 million metric tons by 2030. This is the equivalent to nearly 7.5 percent of citywide 2005 baseline emissions. As CO2 emissions are directly proportional to energy usage, the plan incorporates laws that pertain to benchmarking energy and water use (since water also uses a lot of energy in it’s processing and transport). The Greener, Greater Buildings Plan incorporates Local Law 84, which centers around benchmarking energy and water use to provide a baseline for the future energy efficiency measures to be implemented.

Under the new Local Law 84, all New York City buildings greater than 50,000 square feet must report energy usage benchmarks to the City’s Department of Finance by May 1, 2011 and every year thereafter. Water usage benchmarks also must be reported in buildings equipped with Department of Environmental Protection automatic meter reading equipment for the previous year. The purpose of the benchmarking, which is part of New York City’s greening initiative, is to provide usage information to the City and help board members make fully informed decisions. There is no disruption to building operations when benchmarking is performed, and the law does not require any further action after the benchmarks have been reported.

Under the new Local Law 87, also part of the City’s greening initiative, buildings are required to submit to the Department of Finance an energy efficiency audit of the building’s central systems (e.g., HVAC, elevators, hot water and electrical and lighting systems), once every 10 years. The audit must be performed by a professional certified in accordance with the standards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. One benefit of the audit is the required presentation by the auditor to the Board of what was found and how the building can be made more energy efficient. The first cycle of Local Law 87 will be due at the end of December 2013. Your individual building’s required due date will be determined by the last number of your block.

Definition: Benchmark • Benchmarking:

A bench mark can be defined as a standard by which something can be measured or judged;

Benchmarking: to measure according to specified standards in order to compare it with and improve [e.g.] one’s own [standards].

New York City Local Law 84, pertains to the second definition of benchmarking. Local Law 84 is the “Benchmarking Law” which requires building owners, tenants and management companies (operators) to submit the energy and water usage for a building of the previous calendar year. The data from the benchmarking will enable city officials to provide realistic targets for energy efficiency requirements. The benchmarking data submitted by May 1, 2011 will be for the previous year, 2010.

Overview of Local Law 84 Benchmarking energy and water use allows owners, tenants and operators to better understand how their buildings are performing. By requiring annual benchmarking for certain city-owned and large privately-owned buildings, the law will give building owners and potential buyers a better understanding of a building’s energy and water consumption, eventually shifting the market towards increasingly more efficient, higher- performing buildings.

This law covers New York City buildings, which are buildings that are all or partially owned by the City of New York that are 50,000 ft2 or less.

Commercial and mixed-use Buildings of 50,000 ft2 or more; Residential Buildings of 50,000 ft2 or more, that are Residential properties classified as class one in section 1802, subdivision one of the real property tax law, including:

1, 2, and 3 family homes
Condos and Co-ops with no more than 3 dwelling units

All stated buildings must be benchmarked by May 1, 2011, with annual benchmarking to be completed by May 1st of each subsequent year. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) will oversee Benchmarking for energy use and by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for water use. City buildings with automatic water meter reading equipment installed for less than a year are not required to undergo benchmarking for water use in that year.

Additional classifications of buildings are pending, in the subsequent years, such that all building owners, manager and tenants will be required to submit benchmarking data.

Related Links:

The Benchmarking Law
Read the law – http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/downloads/pdf/ll84of2009_benchmarking.pdf

The Greener, Greater Buildings Plan