New York City Building Energy Grades

By Anna Marie Pinion
Engineering Analyst
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

Building Energy Grades | New York City illustrationAs the public importance of energy efficiency grows daily, local governments continue to take steps to encourage building owners and managers to reduce their energy consumption. With over 6,484 high rise buildings over 35 meters tall, and a population of over 8.5 million, New York City has taken many steps towards sustainability through its Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. The plan consists of four local laws, LL84, LL85, LL87, and LL88, designed to provide energy information to decision-makers and encourages the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures. A recent initiative, Local Law 33, amends Local Law 84 which requires buildings to benchmark their energy and water use. Local Law 33 requires the public disclosure of buildings’ energy efficiency score to be posted in a public area with a grade. With the addition of Local Law 33, Local Law 84 now requires buildings to benchmark their energy and water use and to publicly disclose its energy efficiency score and grade. This amendment aims to further inform the public so that tenants and potential buyers can make better purchasing and leasing decisions.

What is Local Law 33?

Local Law 33 explains the details of how a building’s energy efficiency scores and grades must be obtained, assigned, and disclosed. In 2020 and each year after, building owners must use the benchmarking tool to obtain an energy efficiency score and then display their score in a public entrance along with an energy efficiency grade. This law affects buildings greater than 25,000 SF and city buildings greater than 10,000 SF. Within 30 days of receiving an energy grade, building owners must display the energy efficiency score and grade at public entrances.

Similar to restaurant grades, the energy efficiency grades range from an ‘A’ to an ‘F’ and reflect how efficiently a building performs. These energy efficiency grades are determined by the building’s energy efficiency score which is obtained through the use of the  ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a benchmarking tool that collects energy consumption data and then provides a score from 1-100. The scores are percentages given based on the building’s energy performance compared to similar buildings across the United States (ex. A building with an energy star score of 75 performs better than 75% of similar buildings). Under LL84, New York City buildings should already have an account and benchmarked their energy usage.

Grade Breakdown

The energy efficiency letter grades range from ‘A’ to ‘F’, with ‘A’ buildings performing the best, and ‘D’ buildings being the least energy efficient. An ‘F’ is designated to a building that refuses to comply with the benchmarking law and therefore has no energy efficiency score. ‘N’ is designated to buildings that are not covered by the portfolio manager program and are not required to publicly display their grade. The grades will be accompanied by the energy efficiency score to further differentiate among the same letter grades. The energy letter grade allows for an easy indication of the performance of the building, while the score allows for further differentiation among grades. For example, a building with a grade of ‘B’ but a score of 85 can be distinguished from a building with a ‘B’ grade and a score of 55. The breakdown of letter grades is as follows:

Energy Star Score Building Grade
90-100 A
50-89 B
20-49 C
Below 20 D
No information submitted F
Properties not covered by ENERGY STAR N


Local Law 33 gives building owners another push towards energy efficiency while further informing the public about building’s energy performances. Buildings that have high energy efficiency scores and grades will be attractive for tenants and consumers, with some clients being willing to pay higher rates and premiums in exchange for lower energy costs. Not only would a high score be highly attractive for tenants, but the resulting positive public perception of the building, company, and property managers would be an additional benefit. Even without any of the previously mentioned advantages, energy efficiency is a smart investment on its own for both the money saved by reduced energy expenses, as well as the reduced impact the building has on the environment.

Whether a New York City building owner is looking for low-cost energy solutions to improve their energy efficiency score, or needing assistance with benchmarking their building, SIG is happy to help managers navigate through the process to submit for Local Laws 84 and 33. With locations in New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, Boulder, CO, Minneapolis, MN, and San Francisco, CA, SIG can help building owners and managers across the country looking for more information about energy benchmarking and energy solutions.


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