Since 2009, the New York City government has carried out an ongoing effort to gather relevant data on how energy is being consumed by NYC buildings. An attempt to audit every single property would be unfeasible in terms of both cost and time, so efforts have focused on the buildings that consume the most energy.

To more effectively gather data on building energy usage, the NYC government launched Local Laws 84 and 87. LL84 is also known as the Benchmarking Law, and the buildings it covers are required to submit yearly data on energy and water usage. LL87 aims to achieve a more detailed breakdown of energy data, requiring buildings to carry out energy audits and retro-commissioning, while delivering energy efficiency reports (EER) every ten years.

Under LL87, energy audits have the goal of providing detailed building performance data, which is very valuable for the NYC government to deploy targeted energy efficiency and emissions reduction measures. On the other hand, retro-commissioning validates the operating conditions of building systems, making adjustments or minor modifications to ensure the most efficient operation possible with the existing equipment.

What Buildings are Covered by These Laws?

Since gathering data for all NYC would be unfeasible, LL84 and LL87 target buildings above a certain size. When first launched in 2009, both laws were for all buildings meeting any of the following criteria:

  • City-owned buildings with at least 10,000 ft2 of floor space.
  • Private buildings with at least 50,000 ft2 of floor space.
  • Groups of buildings under the same tax account or condominium ownership, with a total area of at least 100,000 ft2.

Consider that LL84 was amended in 2016 through Local Law 133, which lowers the threshold for individual private buildings. From 2018 onwards, individual buildings with at least 25,000 ft2 of floor space will be required to perform benchmarking. The requirements for LL87 were not modified. Property owners who are unsure if their building is covered by these laws can visit the Green Buildings & Energy Efficiency section of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability website.

All buildings covered by LL84 and its amendment are required to submit energy consumption data, but water consumption data is not required unless the property has been equipped with an automatic water meter, for at least a full calendar year before the data submission date.

Delivery Dates For Benchmarking and Energy Efficiency Reports

Benchmarking data according to LL84 must be submitted by covered buildings annually, and the deadline is May 1st of each year. In the case of buildings above 25,000 ft2 but below 50,000 ft2, which were not previously covered by the Benchmarking Law, the first data submission must be carried out by May 1, 2018.

Energy efficiency reports according to LL87 are submitted once every ten years, but they are not submitted at once by all buildings. Instead, each building was assigned a different year to deliver the first report based on the last digit of their tax account (0 - 9), effectively breaking down the covered buildings into ten groups of roughly the same size. The following table provides the delivery year of the first Energy Efficiency Report for each building group:

Tax Number Final Digit 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Delivery of First EER 2020 2021 2022 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

The Energy Efficiency Report can be submitted at any time during the assigned calendar year, and is required to include results from the energy audit and retro-commissioning. Although all covered buildings must submit the report, there are exemptions available for the energy audit and retro-commissioning procedure.

Energy Audit Exemptions

Buildings covered by LL87 are not required to perform an energy audit if they meet any of the following conditions:

  • ENERGY STAR label from the US Environmental Protection Agency for at least two of the three years prior to the report delivery year.
  • LEED Certification for Existing Buildings from the US Green Building Council, within the four years before the report delivery year.
  • Validation by a NYC Registered Design Professional, proving that building energy performance is at least 25 points above an average building of its type, according to LEED or another approved rating system.

In addition to the exemptions above, a building is waived from the first energy audit if it meets a series of minimum performance requirements in at least six of the seven categories described below, subject to validation by a NYC Registered Design Professional:

  • Individual heating controls.
  • Common area and exterior lighting.
  • Low-flow faucets and shower heads.
  • Pipe insulation.
  • Domestic hot water.
  • Washing machines.
  • Cool roof.

Retro-Commissioning Exemptions

This exemption is only available for buildings that have received a LEED Certification for Existing Buildings within the two years before report delivery, and who have earned the two following points:

  • Commissioning investigation and analysis
  • Commissioning implementation

LL84: How to Submit Benchmarking Data

The NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has decided to collect building benchmarking data through the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, an online tool developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. When the account is first created, the Portfolio Manager requests detailed building information, but after that the yearly procedure is simple.

The best way to gather energy and water consumption data is to request it directly from the corresponding utilities. This can save plenty of time in properties with multiple tenants who are metered separately, since there is no need to ask each tenant to provide data. Most utility companies provide aggregated energy consumption data, and the Department of Environmental Protection can upload water consumption data automatically.

LL87: Energy Audit and Retro-Commissioning

The requirements for the energy audit and retro-commissioning are detailed in the LL87 publication, and can be summarized as follows:

ACTIVITY

Requirements

Energy Audit






1) Identify all reasonable measures that could reduce the building’s operating cost.
2) Calculate annual savings, implementation cost and payback period for each measure.
3) Review building benchmarking data (LL84) for consistency.
4) Breakdown of energy usage by system, and predicted energy usage after implementing the proposed measures.
5) General assessment of how major equipment owned by tenants impacts energy consumption of base building systems.

Retro-Commissioning

1) Operating protocols, calibration and sequencing.
2) Cleaning and repair
3) Training and documentation

The energy audit and retro-commissioning data are used to create the Energy Efficiency Report (EER), whch must be submitted during the assigned year according to the last digit of the tax number corresponding to the building.

Final Recommendations

Compliance with LL84 and LL87 can be a complex topic, so professional guidance is strongly recommended. Since there are exemptions for ENERGY STAR and LEED Certified buildings, buildings managers who are planning to obtain these certifications can benefit from doing so before the next EER is due. Working with a specialized engineering consulting firm can simplify LL84 and LL87 compliance for NYC companies, allowing them to focus on their business.

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