Local Laws: Wind Turbines, Green Roofs and Energy Efficiency, Oh My…

By Adam Batista

Continuing the trend of recent years, the New York City Council remains busy in proposing new local laws. This month, we offer an overview of recent legislation enacted to support ongoing sustainability efforts here in the five boroughs.

Wind Turbines

Local Law 98 of 2019 (Int. No. 1317-A) amends the New York City administrative and building codes with regard to large wind turbines. Specifically, Section BC 3114 of the building code now defines large wind turbines as those with a swept area greater than 200 m2 and establishes design standards, including access and setback requirements. The administrative code changes address maintenance and removal of large wind turbines.

Emissions & Energy Efficiency

Local Law 97 of 2019 (Int. No. 1253-C) has received extensive press as a key component of

New York City’s Green New Deal. The law amends the New York City charter and administrative code to support the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by the year 2050. The legislation includes the following:

  • Establishes an Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance
  • Identifies benchmarks for compliance by covered buildings
  • Sets financial penalties for buildings that exceed annual emissions limits

This local law sets detailed requirements for two initial compliance periods: 2024 – 2029 and 2030 – 2034. It also requires New York City to clarify the requirements for future periods through 2050. Buildings that exceed 25,000 gross square feet must meet annual whole-building carbon intensity limits during each compliance period, based on building type. (Mixed-use buildings will have prorated limits.) Certain building types—including city-owned buildings, affordable housing, hospitals, and houses of worship—will have alternative compliance options if they cannot hit the carbon intensity limits. Starting in 2025, building owners must submit an annual emissions intensity report, stamped by a registered design professional; failure to file will incur steep fines.

Local Law 95 of 2019 (Int. No. 1251-A) revises the administrative code guidelines regarding the conversion of energy efficiency scores into a letter grade that must be posted publicly at each building entrance. The latest changes relaxes the standards originally set by Local Law 33 of 2018. For more information on these letter grades, check out this previous article on “The Benchmarking Shame Game.”

Green Roofs

Local Law 94 of 2019 (Int. No. 1032-A) amends the administrative and building codes of New York City to require installing “sustainable roofs” on certain buildings. The changes define a “sustainable roofing zone” as areas of a roof assembly that include a green roof system, a solar photovoltaic electricity generating system, or a combination of the two.

Local Law 93 of 2019 (Int. No. 1031-A) changes the New York City administrative code with regard to posting information on green roof systems on the website of the Department of Buildings (DOB) website.

Local Law 92 of 2019 (Int. No. 276-A) updates the New York City building code requirements for green roofs. The new language addresses the installation of solar photovoltaic electricity generating systems on residential buildings five stories or less in height.

If you have questions on how the above legislation affects your property or projects, please contact Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344.