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September 30, 2021

Part I: Will New York City’s largest buildings meet emissions reduction limits by 2024? We break it all down in this two-part series.

By Elana Knopp, Senior Content Writer

In the next installment of our Edison Plugged In Series, which shines a spotlight on the people, projects, and perspectives of the Edison Energy team, we are featuring the insights of Saverio Grosso on New York City’s building emission legislation. As Edison Energy’s Managing Director, Saverio serves as the liaison to our marquee clients and contracts, fostering the relationship to ensure our services continually align with their project needs and goals. Click here to learn more about Saverio’s background.


Breaking it down

In this first of a two-part series, Edison Energy’s Managing Director of Energy Optimization Saverio Grosso talks New York City’s ambitious plans for reducing carbon emissions as compliance dates loom.

In 2019, New York City passed the Climate Mobilization Act, a groundbreaking package of bills that has been lauded as one of the most ambitious and innovative legislative initiatives enacted by a major city to combat climate change.

Under the Act, most buildings over 25,000 square feet—roughly 50,000 residential and commercial properties across the City– will be required to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions by 2024, with stricter limits coming into effect in 2030. The goal is to reduce the emissions produced by the city’s largest buildings 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

Currently, approximately 70 percent of New York City’s carbon footprint comes from large commercial and multi-family buildings.

The rest of the country is starting to follow suit. Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) determined that the updated 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) would improve energy efficiency in buildings subject to the code.

States and cities that adopt the IECC will effectively require new buildings to reduce energy use by more than 10 percent on average compared to buildings meeting the previous code, and by more than a third compared to the 2009 IECC, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

“There’s been a tremendous uptick in energy optimization and efficiency projects,” said Saverio Grosso, Managing Director of Energy Optimization at Edison Energy. “What we saw 15 years ago was just performance evaluation. Now what we’re looking at is almost full building optimization–everything from start to finish–and planning for the future. I think a lot of the planning, particularly in New York, is driven by legislation. The three measures that have really impacted energy efficiency are Local Laws 84, 87, and 97.”

The laws are part of New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP), a comprehensive set of energy efficiency laws targeting the City’s largest existing buildings. These buildings constitute half of the City’s built square footage and 45 percent of citywide energy use. By 2030, the GGBP is expected to reduce citywide GHG emissions by at least 5.3 percent from the 2009 baseline of 50.8 million metric tons.

For these buildings, the laws will require an annual benchmarking of energy and water use with public disclosure; an audit and retro-commissioning every 10 years; and upgrades for lighting.

Local Law 84, also known as the Benchmarking Law, directs all buildings over 25,000 square feet to submit annual data on energy usage by May 1 of each year for the previous year.

Local Law 87 mandates that buildings over 50,000 square feet undergo periodic energy audit and retro-commissioning measures.

“LL 84 was the first foray for many building owners to understand how much energy they use,” Grosso said. “LL 87 looks at capital improvements, things you need to replace and fix that are larger capital expenses that will reduce your usage, as well as retro-commissioning, which is quick, immediate fixes that are almost remediation of issues within the building hindering performance. Unfortunately, anytime legislation is passed, there are those who follow the intent of the law to identify ways of actually saving energy. Then on the other side you have the bad providers who say, ‘I met the legislation,’ and that’s it.”

LL 97 is considered the most ambitious building emissions legislation enacted by any city in the world, also incorporating a green power purchase option and a provision for carbon trading between buildings.

“LL 97 is forcing the hand of those who just saw LL 87 from a compliance aspect,” Grosso said. “It’s really allowing them to go back and look at those projects and say, ‘We have some great ideas here. Let’s take this report off the shelf and make it actionable.’ I know LL 97 is creating a lot of headaches because force of action costs money. The intent of 87 was always, ‘What can I fix now to capture savings, and what should I be doing within the next five to 10 years to improve it?’ Sadly, a good majority of buildings went through the LL 87 process and didn’t take advantage of the knowledge that they paid for.”


Learn more about valuable energy conservation measures, incentive programs and regional legislative updates, and recent case studies in Edison Energy’s Energy Optimization Newsletter. Click here to read our latest issue.


Click here to explore previous installments in our Edison Plugged In Series and stay tuned for the next feature in the series!
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