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When is the New York City Energy Conservation Code Mandatory?

Updated: Feb 27

The inception of the NYC Energy Conservation Code stemmed from Local Law 85 of 2009, which utilized the NY State Energy Conservation Construction Code as its foundation but augmented it with amendments tailored to the specific requirements of New York City. This code undergoes continual refinement, with updated editions released in 2011, 2014, and 2016.

For property owners or those embarking on real estate endeavors in New York City, familiarity with the Energy Conservation Code is indispensable. The initial crucial step involves ascertaining whether your project falls within the purview of the code, and it is advisable to consult a proficient engineering consultancy for guidance. Moreover, it's worth noting that energy-efficient practices hold merit even if they aren't mandated by the code, warranting consideration irrespective of its requirements.

New constructions invariably fall under the jurisdiction of the NYC energy code, mandating compliance. However, existing structures are only obligated to upgrade to meet the energy code under specific circumstances, elucidated herein. Typically, existing buildings are only subject to the NYC Energy Conservation Code during alterations such as expansions or renovations. Nevertheless, there exists an exception where upgrades are compulsory regardless of planned modifications: when existing buildings are subject to Local Law 88 of 2009.

Similar to the NYC energy code, Local Law 88 forms part of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan and can be summarized as follows:

  • Single buildings encompassing at least 50,000 ft2 of floor space are encompassed.

  • Groups of two or more buildings totaling at least 100,000 ft2 are included if they share the same tax lot or condominium ownership.

  • Illumination systems in covered structures must be upgraded to comply with the NYC Energy Conservation Code, with a deadline set for January 1, 2025.

  • Property owners must also implement sub-metering to monitor the electricity consumption of tenant spaces exceeding specific size thresholds (outlined in Local Law 88).

  • Certain occupancy groups are exempt from the lighting upgrade requirement, even if they satisfy the aforementioned criteria: Residential Groups R-2 and R-3, and places of worship classified under Assembly Group A-3.

This represents the solitary scenario where the NYC energy code mandates an upgrade for an existing building without planned alterations. Otherwise, only buildings undergoing changes are affected. While engineering consultants consistently advocate for energy efficiency, especially given the elevated electricity costs in NYC, there are instances where compliance with the NYC Energy Conservation Code becomes obligatory. Collaborating with a reputable engineering firm from project inception ensures adherence to codes and reaps enduring benefits.

Concerning lighting upgrades to comply with Local Law 88, it's worth considering that Local Law 26 necessitates the installation of sprinkler systems in all office buildings exceeding 100 feet in height. Should your property be subject to both regulations, amalgamating both projects may mitigate disruptions—both lighting upgrades and fire sprinkler installation entail ceiling alterations.

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