A Guide to NYC’s Environmental Local Laws

By Delaney Horton – Energy Data Analyst

Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

As the United States continues to take steps in climate action, New York City has implemented several local laws to significantly cut carbon emissions from buildings. While some of these laws require retrofits and others benchmark energy use, New York’s environmental local laws contribute greatly to the energy efficiency and environmental quality of the city and present both challenges and opportunities for building owners and managers.

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What are NYC’s Environmental Local Laws?

NYC passed several local laws with the goal of monitoring, benchmarking, and addressing the environmental footprint of the built environment. Each local law applies to certain building types, and a building usually must exceed a square footage threshold to be subject to a certain law. Please keep in mind that the city also has building codes and energy codes for new construction and major renovations aside from these local laws. 

What is the Difference Between Each Local Law?

Most of New York’s environmental Local Laws are geared towards large buildings, or buildings that are 25,000 square feet or larger.

  • Local Law 84 requires energy and water benchmarking and disclosure. This means that building owners must use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to annually report their energy and water consumption to the city and track how the numbers compare to similar buildings.
  • Local Law 33/95 (Local Law 33 was updated and is now known as Local Law 95) requires building owners to publicly display Building Energy Efficiency Ratings at the entrances of their buildings. This rating includes an ENERGY STAR score (1-100) and its corresponding letter grade based on a rubric defined in the law.
  • Local Law 87 is an energy audit and retro-commissioning requirement. The law requires all applicable buildings to conduct an energy audit every 10 years, which ensures the efficiency of building systems. Local Law 87 may provide insight into potential retrofitting opportunities for operational improvements and energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Local Law 88 requires building owners to upgrade all lighting and install submeters by 2025. This establishes greater lighting efficiency across the city’s commercial building stock and provides building owners insight into real-time and monthly electricity consumption.
  • Local Law 97 puts a cap on building emissions. Building emissions limits and respective penalties for noncompliance are calculated based on building type and size. The emissions limit started in 2024 and will continue to get stricter in the coming years.

In conclusion, New York City’s environmental local laws represent a step forward in building greener communities. For building owners and property managers, understanding and complying with these laws is an integral part of managing buildings, maintaining a competitive edge, and supporting the health and wellbeing of New York.

Our team at SIG specializes in helping clients navigate these regulations smoothly everyday. Have questions? Reach out to us at energystar@sigearth.com, and together we can ensure your buildings meet the highest standards.

portrait of Delaney | SIGDelaney Horton is an Energy Data Analyst at SIG, expertly managing and organizing critical energy data through the Energy Star Portfolio Manager Portal. Recently graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability and a minor in Landscape Architecture, Delaney has a strong foundation in environmental economics and sustainable design.

Columbus, OH


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