NYC’s Green Great Buildings Plan: Local Law 87

By Annabelle Mathis
Engineering Analyst
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan at sunset with a view of St Patricks CathedralAnyone who has been to New York City can attest to how congested it is. The city’s square footage is highly concentrated in less than two percent of its properties: 15,000 properties over 50,000 square feet comprise almost half of this square footage and up to 48% of the city’s total energy use. Therefore, as an environmental improvement initiative, New York City enacted the Green Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP) in 2009 to achieve significant levels of energy and water efficiency.

Local Law 87 (LL 87) is one of the four laws that make up this plan. Properties that require LL 87 compliance include any single NYC building exceeding 50,000 gross square feet and multiple buildings on the same tax lot or condo board that together exceed 100,000 square feet.

Components of LL 87

Qualifying buildings must undergo an energy audit and retro-commissioning of the base building systems and submit an Energy Efficiency Report (EER). The energy audit and retro-Commissioning must be performed by an individual with Department approved credentials. Learn more about the components of Local Law 87.

The base building systems are the systems/subsystems of the building that use energy or impact energy consumption. For LL 87, these are:

  • Building envelopes
  • HVAC systems
  • Conveying systems
  • Domestic hot water systems
  • Electrical and lighting systems

Energy Audit

The objective of an energy audit is to identify potential operational and equipment improvements that can save energy, reduce costs, and lead to improved performance. They are intended to give building owners more insight into their energy consumption by breaking down the totally energy use and cost by the various uses such as heating, air conditioning, and lighting. The data is analyzed, and energy conservation measures are provided based on cost and return on investment so building owners can make informed business decisions. Typically, these changes cost more up front but save money in the long-term.

For LL 87, a minimum of an American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) level II energy audit is required. However, enacting the recommended changes is not required per the law. To learn more, check out the ASHRAE website.

Retro-Commissioning Study

Retro-commissioning is the process of evaluating, testing, adjusting, and correcting systems in a building. Adjustments that can occur during this process include, but are not limited to, cleaning, repairing defects, adjusting valves, adjusting controls or programmed settings, adding sensors, or general operational changes. These items are typically low-cost with a high return on investment. In addition, other benefits include reducing particle matter costs, reducing energy costs, and prolonging the building’s equipment life.

Energy Efficiency Report (EER)

The EER consists of:

  • EERC1 (Professional Certification: Energy Auditor and Owner Statements) form
  • Energy Audit Tool
  • EERC2 (Professional Certification: Retro-commissioning Agent and Owner Statements) form
  • Retro-commissioning Tool

It must be submitted once every ten years, and both the energy audit and retro-commissioning study should be completed no more than four years prior to the report filing date. The report is due by December 31st of the calendar year with a final digit that is the same as the last digit of the building’s tax block number. For example, if the last digit of the tax block number is 9, the first EER is due in 2019.

Why comply?

The penalty for failing to complete the EER is an initial penalty of $3,000 with an additional $5,000 for each year the EER is not submitted. With ten years in between reports, this can build significantly!

In case you missed it:

Previous articles on Local Law Compliance

Local Law 84 from July 29, 2014

Local Law 87 from November 12, 2013

How Can SIG Help?

SIG’s team of Professional Engineers can perform Energy Audits and Retro-Commissioning to meet all the requirements of LL 87. Through in-depth analysis of your building(s) we will identify cost effective equipment and controls upgrades while optimizing the performance of existing base building systems. A final EER will be completed and submitted. SIG has obtained FlexTech approved funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for several clients, which compensates up to 50% of costs associated with LL 87 compliance. To learn more, please visit our Local Law Compliance page, or contact Charlie Cichetti at (404) 343-3835.

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