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A Shift Toward Sustainability: New York City Local Law 95 Explained- NYC



In a concerted effort to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cities around the world are adopting progressive legislation to promote energy efficiency and sustainable energy practices. New York City is at the forefront of this movement with what many call a “groundbreaking” Local Law. Enacted in 2019, Local Law 95 is a pivotal piece of legislation aimed at improving energy efficiency in existing buildings and ultimately transforming the city into a more sustainable urban landscape.


Understanding Local Law 95

Officially titled the "Building Energy Efficiency Rating Label Law," Local Law 95 mandates the posting of energy efficiency letter grades on the exteriors of large buildings. The law applies to privately-owned buildings with more than 25,000 square feet and city-owned buildings with more than 10,000 square feet. The grading system is designed to provide transparency about a building's energy efficiency and encourage property owners to make improvements that will contribute to the city's broader sustainability goals.


Energy Efficiency Letter Grades

Under Local Law 95, buildings receive energy efficiency letter grades ranging from A to F, with A being the most energy-efficient and F indicating the least efficiency. These grades are determined based on the energy efficiency benchmarking data submitted by building owners to the city. The benchmarking process involves assessing a building's energy usage and comparing it to similar structures.


Implementation and Compliance

The implementation of Local Law 95 involves phases of deadlines for building owners to comply with the energy efficiency grading requirements. The law began with a voluntary phase in 2020, followed by a mandatory phase starting in 2021. Building owners are required to obtain an energy efficiency grade and prominently display it near the building's entrance. Failure to comply with the law can result in penalties, emphasizing the city's commitment to enforcing sustainability measures.


Challenges and Criticisms

Some building owners argue that the grading system oversimplifies the complexities of energy efficiency, as it does not account for certain building types, occupancy variations, or specific operational challenges. Additionally, concerns have been raised about potential economic disparities, as compliance costs may disproportionately affect smaller property owners.


Looking Ahead

Local Law 95 is a pioneering initiative that aligns New York City with global efforts to address climate change and promote sustainable development. As the city continues to evolve, it is likely that similar legislation will be adopted by other urban centers worldwide. The implementation of energy efficiency grading not only fosters accountability among building owners but also fosters a culture of sustainability that can inspire positive change in the broader community.


New York City's Local Law 95 marks a significant milestone in the city's commitment to a sustainable future. Requiring energy efficiency grades on large buildings, the law empowers consumers and investors to prioritize environmentally responsible choices. As the city strives to reduce its carbon footprint and create a more resilient urban environment, Local Law 95 serves as a beacon of progress and a model for other cities to follow in the pursuit of a greener and more sustainable future. For more questions and information, reach out to our professional engineers here at Built today!


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