New York City has a reputation for a lot of things—big buildings and big attitude included—but it's starting to garner another altogether for big climate legislation. As Samantha Wilt, Senior Policy Analyst for the Climate & Clean Energy Program for the National Resource Defense Council, put it at last week's Building Energy Exchange event, "We are setting the example and the example has to be wildly successful.”  

Back in June we blogged about Local Law 97, when the legislation was first set in place. Now that the law has been set, it's time to talk solutions and paths forward. Last week's event hosted professionals from all areas of the industry—building owners, service providers, and government representatives on the state and federal level—to discuss next steps and areas of focus for owners and operators of the 50,000 buildings that will be impacted by this law. 2050 will come up quick—and 2024, the first deadline, even quicker—it's essential that building owners and operators understand what compliance looks like and how to achieve it. As Chris Cayten, Principal at CodeGreen Solutions, put it: “This law is not going away. This will not be closed out by some new administration. No one is going to be able to sweep their compliance or non-compliance under the rug.”

So how do we push forward? For business and building owners, it’s solutions that make business sense. The crux of LL97 is reducing building emissions. The most effective way of reducing emissions is by saving energy across all areas of your building's consumption. This includes everything from heating and cooling to HVAC, building envelope, and lighting. There's a lot of "low-hanging fruit", so-to-speak, in existing buildings. Typically, the term is applied to renovation work that is non-invasive, non-disruptive, and has a high ROI. These are the projects to get out of the way first. They reduce energy costs and pay themselves back, giving you capital to implement more extensive renovation projects down the line (such as upgrading your building envelope and moving your building's heat over to electricity).

The targets set in place by LL97 can help to set a timeline for the operational and building improvements that need to be made in your facility. For example, the nearest target is 2024. By that time, 20% of New York City's buildings with the highest emissions intensity levels will have had to reduce emissions based on the required level coinciding with their building type.

“You can, with operational improvements, get buildings to where they need to be for that near target," said Jeff Perlman, CEO & Founder of Bright Power.

Some of these buildings are already in compliance with the initial target. Others aren't but could be with simple, and relatively inexpensive, renovation work like installing control systems and LED lighting.

Sure, you're required by law to implement these measures, and you'll save money on energy bills, but you'll also avoid hefty fines and generate carbon trade value. Building renovation work required by LL97 isn't just about saving money and reducing emissions however. Improvements to things like HVAC, lighting, and building envelope improve comfort and wellbeing for tenants as well as modernize your building and increase property value. Because of this, building owners and operators should emphasize tenant engagement throughout this process, ensuring you don't miss an opportunity to make significant improvements to a space.

To put it simply, this is about reducing waste first, not having tenants put sweaters on. These changes may seem overwhelming on paper but they are both necessary and feasible. The good news is we're not waiting on technology to become available or affordable to implement these improvements. The technology already exists. And a lot of it—sensors, wireless communication, tunable LED lights included—is relatively inexpensive, has improved dramatically in recent years, and grants you access to a lot of valuable data about your building at minimal cost.

Want to know how the lighting in your building affects your compliance? Drop us a line.

We'll get you started.