Real Estate

The Impact of NYC’s Local Law 97 on Building Sustainability

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New York City is a global leader in urban sustainability, setting ambitious goals to reduce its carbon footprint and enhance the environmental performance of its buildings. At the heart of these efforts is Local Law 97, a landmark piece of legislation that targets energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions in the city’s vast array of buildings. For property owners, managers, and developers, understanding and complying with Local Law 97 is crucial. The Cotocon Group, a leading provider of sustainability consulting services, offers invaluable expertise to navigate these complex requirements and achieve compliance while enhancing building sustainability.

Understanding Local Law 97

Local Law 97, part of the Climate Mobilization Act passed in 2019, sets stringent emissions limits for most buildings over 25,000 square feet. The law aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from covered buildings by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. These buildings account for nearly 70% of the city’s carbon emissions, making them a critical focus for achieving New York City’s environmental goals.

The law mandates that buildings meet specific emissions intensity limits starting in 2024, with progressively tighter limits in subsequent years. Building owners must calculate their annual greenhouse gas emissions and compare them to the allowed limits based on building type and usage. Failure to comply results in significant fines, calculated per ton of CO2 equivalent emissions over the limit.

Key Provisions of Local Law 97

Local Law 97 covers a broad range of requirements and provisions designed to ensure substantial reductions in energy use and emissions:

  1. Emissions Limits: The law sets forth emissions limits for different types of buildings, based on their primary use. For instance, residential, commercial, and mixed-use buildings each have specific benchmarks.
  2. Penalties for Non-Compliance: Buildings that exceed their emissions limits face fines of $268 per ton of CO2 equivalent over the limit. This provision underscores the city’s commitment to enforcing the law and incentivizing compliance.
  3. Reporting and Transparency: Building owners must annually report their energy usage and emissions data to the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). Transparency is critical for tracking progress and ensuring accountability.
  4. Retrofit Requirements: To meet the emissions limits, many buildings will need significant retrofits. This can include upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, improving insulation, installing energy-efficient lighting, and integrating renewable energy sources.
  5. Alternative Compliance Paths: Recognizing that some buildings may face unique challenges, Local Law 97 allows for alternative compliance paths. These include purchasing renewable energy credits or carbon offsets, though these options are subject to strict limits and oversight.

The Role of The Cotocon Group in Navigating Local Law 97

Compliance with Local Law 97 can be daunting, but The Cotocon Group specializes in guiding building owners through this complex process. As experts in sustainability consulting, The Cotocon Group offers a range of services to help clients meet and exceed the requirements of Local Law 97 NYC.

  1. Energy Audits and Benchmarking: The first step in compliance is understanding a building’s current energy performance. The Cotocon Group conducts thorough energy audits to identify areas where improvements are needed. They also assist with benchmarking energy usage against industry standards and regulatory requirements.
  2. Strategic Planning and Roadmaps: Once the baseline is established, The Cotocon Group develops customized strategies to achieve compliance. This includes creating a roadmap of upgrades and interventions that will bring buildings within the required emissions limits.
  3. Project Management and Implementation: Implementing energy efficiency measures and retrofits requires careful planning and execution. The Cotocon Group oversees the entire process, from selecting contractors to ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.
  4. Financial Analysis and Incentives: Upgrading a building can be expensive, but numerous financial incentives and rebates are available to offset costs. The Cotocon Group helps clients identify and apply for these incentives, making sustainability improvements more affordable.
  5. Ongoing Compliance and Reporting: Staying compliant with Local Law 97 requires ongoing monitoring and reporting. The Cotocon Group assists with the annual reporting process and provides continuous support to ensure buildings remain within emissions limits.

Benefits of Compliance with Local Law 97

While the primary goal of Local Law 97 is to reduce emissions, compliance offers numerous benefits for building owners and occupants:

  1. Reduced Operating Costs: Energy-efficient buildings typically have lower utility bills, reducing overall operating costs. Upgrading systems and improving efficiency can lead to significant savings over time.
  2. Increased Property Value: Buildings that meet or exceed sustainability standards often see an increase in property value. Energy-efficient buildings are more attractive to tenants and buyers who are increasingly prioritizing sustainability.
  3. Enhanced Tenant Comfort and Health: Energy efficiency improvements often lead to better indoor air quality and more consistent indoor temperatures, enhancing comfort and health for building occupants.
  4. Positive Environmental Impact: By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building owners contribute to broader environmental goals, helping to combat climate change and improve urban air quality.
  5. Regulatory Compliance and Avoidance of Penalties: Compliance with Local Law 97 ensures that building owners avoid hefty fines and stay on the right side of the law. This proactive approach can also improve relationships with regulators and the community.

Challenges and Opportunities

Implementing Local Law 97 comes with its set of challenges, but also presents significant opportunities for innovation and improvement in building management.


  • High Initial Costs: The upfront cost of retrofits and upgrades can be substantial. However, these investments are often recouped through energy savings and increased property value.
  • Technical Complexity: Identifying and implementing the most effective energy-saving measures requires technical expertise. This is where The Cotocon Group’s specialized knowledge becomes invaluable.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Navigating the regulatory landscape and ensuring compliance with all provisions of Local Law 97 can be complex. Continuous updates and adjustments may be necessary to stay compliant.


  • Technological Advancements: Advances in building technology, such as smart building systems and energy-efficient materials, provide new opportunities for achieving compliance.
  • Sustainability Leadership: Complying with Local Law 97 positions building owners as leaders in sustainability, enhancing their reputation and appeal in the marketplace.
  • Long-Term Savings: While the initial investment can be high, the long-term savings on energy costs can be substantial. Buildings that are more energy-efficient and sustainable are also better positioned to withstand future regulatory changes.

The Future of Building Sustainability in NYC

Local Law 97 represents a significant step forward in New York City’s efforts to combat climate change and promote building sustainability. As the city moves towards its 2030 and 2050 emissions reduction targets, the role of sustainability consulting firms like The Cotocon Group will be increasingly important. Their expertise not only helps building owners comply with current regulations but also positions them to take advantage of future opportunities in the evolving landscape of urban sustainability.

By working with The Cotocon Group, building owners can ensure they are not only compliant with Local Law 97 NYC but also leading the way in creating a more sustainable, energy-efficient, and resilient city. The law’s impact extends beyond compliance, driving innovation, improving environmental performance, and setting a new standard for building sustainability in one of the world’s most iconic cities.

Last Word

Local Law 97 is a transformative piece of legislation with far-reaching implications for building sustainability in New York City. Through strategic planning, expert guidance, and a commitment to excellence, The Cotocon Group helps clients navigate these changes effectively, ensuring that their buildings not only meet regulatory requirements but also thrive in an increasingly sustainability-conscious world.

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