Local Law 97: Achieving Sustainability in Existing Buildings

Local Law 97 embodies New York City’s bold commitment to cutting carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, aiming for net zero by 2050. With building emissions currently generating two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gases, Local Law 97 aims to mitigate that by carbon capping most buildings larger than 25,000 square feet. That’s nearly 50,000 properties across the city that will have to be adapted to consume less energy, rely more on renewable resources, and minimize their waste.

Now in force, Local Law 97 is being phased in five-year compliance and monitoring periods leading up to 2050. Each building has been assigned its emissions limit per square foot, depending on its size and type, becoming more stringent as each compliance period passes with fines more punitive. Local Law 97 includes older, and even landmark buildings.

CANY are equipped to help. As a collaboration of architects, engineers, and highly skilled technicians specializing in building enclosures for almost three decades, we understand buildings. But we also understand what buildings mean to people. From the obligations and financial implications of ownership, to being a tenant, resident or walking safely on a sidewalk to how a building impacts on the planet.  

By encouraging clients to see their buildings from the inside out, we can demonstrate how lighting, heating, and cooling systems can be upgraded to meet current Local Law 97 demands. But we can also show how the building enclosure sets the tone, from the foundations to the roofline and everything in between, including the windows. The better the performance of the building enclosure, the more resilient the building becomes and the less energy it consumes. A well-designed, re-developed or restored energy-efficient enclosure provides the ecosystem necessary to finely balance the interior and exterior, producing longer term sustainable solutions that futureproof a building to adapt to current and future obligations, reducing ongoing energy and maintenance costs.  

Our in-house architectural and engineering practitioners can assess a building from its widest physical context to the narrowest of virtual margins. That can include physically rappelling on ropes down the outside of a building to inspect issues hands on, to compiling intricate spreadsheets and computer programs that drill down to the minutiae of how the numbers work.  

CANY can also work with building owners, existing and prospective, to develop a masterplan that looks at the implications of Local Law 97 and how they can be addressed in conjunction with New York City’s ongoing Façade Inspection and Safety Plan (FISP). We get that the combination of local laws could be a spiderweb of expensive ways to get caught out. So, rather than looking at both laws in isolation, we can devise ways in which a program of work can be staggered using the FISP reporting cycle as milestones, and the necessary inspections and subsequent work as a framework to manage Local Law 97 obligations. In this way, we can map out issues that need to be resolved, maximize budgets, and minimize interruption.

At CANY, we know that buildings matter to people. And people matter to us. That’s why we work with our clients to find creative solutions that embrace their vision, concerns and budget. As well as their responsibility to comply with local laws that protect New Yorkers and safeguard the city’s skyline and its impact on the planet.

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