A Green New Future for NYC Office Buildings

With the pandemic’s ill-effects receding an office building’s scope will begin to hold more relevance again. Therefore, it is a crucial time to rethink our engagement with buildings and their impact on the environment, especially with regard to Local Law 87 for compliance with the law is not a one day process.

How are the NYCs office towers impacted?

The buildings account for more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in New York. The problem was relentlessly addressed by environmental advocacy groups along with the City Council by forcing the government to pass legislation banning fossil fuel linkages to at least the new constructions & gut renovations. As per the press release, there might be a gas ban for the same by the year 2030.

However, fossil fuels only represent a small segment of the larger problem at hand. Most buildings in the city, old and new alike, lack enormously on energy efficiency, which is why it has become the central factor while constructing the new buildings. Many buildings continue to rely on gas hookups, window AC units with ancient HVAC structures. Even though retro-fitting and gut renovation can be expensive, especially post-pandemic, the costs tend to bear themselves in the long run. More importantly, there is a law passed in the name of Local Law 97 that ensures all of the above!

What is the Local Law 87 NYC?

NYC Local Law 87 applies to buildings larger than 50,000 square feet and mandates for them to file an ‘Energy Efficiency Report’ with the Department of Buildings, which will contain details of the energy audit results & retro-commissioning measures- both, required by the law and deemed penal in cases of non-compliance.

The law also applies to

-two or more buildings on the same tax lot number that together exceed 100,000 square feet

– two or more buildings are held in the condominium form of ownership that is covered by the same board of managers that together exceed 100,000 square feet. 


An energy audit indicates the energy efficiency of a building after conducting an inspection, survey & analysis, along with curating a report of energy flows to improve the energy efficiency. It involves studying the base building systems- building envelope, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning), conveying systems, domestic hot water systems, electrical and lighting systems, etc.

Retro-commissioning however, is a thorough evaluation of how optimally HVAC and lighting controls are actually functioning.

Commercial buildings in the US consume 39% of America’s energy and 68% of its electricity. They further emit 38% of the carbon dioxide. Studies also show that lightning, HVAC, and office equipment are responsible for most of the energy consumption in a typical building, which is good news for these are readily manageable.

What are building owners required to do?

Local Law 87 NYC explicitly mentions that the compliance date is determined by the last digit of the buildings’ tax block numbers. If the block number ends with 3, the report is due 2013; similarly, a number ending in 4 will indicate 2014 as the due date, and so on. Post filing the initial report on the due date, Local Law 87 NYC demands that the building files an ‘energy-efficient report’ every 10 years. However, non-submission of the same will automatically indicate its violation, which will further imply a fine of $3,000 in the first year & $5,000 every year after.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.