By Eric Ettinger, P.E., LEED AP
Less than nine months remain before covered buildings must comply with annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions established by Local Law 97 of 2019 (LL97). The first compliance reports are due by May 1, 2025, and reflect emissions in calendar year 2024. In February, the New York City Department of Buildings established updated emissions limits based on property types from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM), instead of occupancy groups under the New York City Building Code.
The Shift to ESPM Property Types
LL97 requires the change to ESPM property types to set fair, equitable emissions limits. The ESPM tool reflects actual energy consumption patterns in New York City buildings. The shift to the ESPM standard maintains high compliance rates while supporting the LL97 targets for overall emissions reductions.
Irrespective of the approach to LL97, new and existing covered buildings should consider early action to address the GHG emissions limit. Consulting a Registered Design Professional to understand energy efficiency strategies that align with the needs of their property should be a key first step. Decision makers seeking to limit building emissions have two primary pathways available to them: reducing their building’s energy consumption or switching to less emissions-intensive energy sources.
Future-proofing buildings against GHG emissions limits requires combining both strategies: implementing operational and energy-efficiency upgrades to reduce energy use while also transitioning from on-site fossil fuel combustion to clean-grid electricity to satisfy their energy needs.
Emissions Reports for 2024 & 2025
When reporting emissions for calendar years 2024 and 2025, building owners whose emissions limits have been lowered under the ESPM model may follow either the original limits based on occupancy group or the limits based on ESPM property types. Reports must use emissions from a single methodology, either occupancy groups or ESPM—no mixing and matching in a single report.
Beginning with calendar year 2026, all building emissions reports must be based on limits for ESPM property types.
Eric Ettinger, P.E., LEED AP, is President of Ettinger Engineering Associates, a leading MEP engineering and sustainability consulting firm in the New York Tri-State area and beyond since 1960.