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A Complete Guide to NYC Local Laws: LL87, LL84, LL133, LL33


If you are a building owner then complying with the local laws of NYC fall under the list of your responsibilities. You might not be aware of the requirements of these laws well enough which can create problems when it’s time for your building to comply with any of them. In order to help you be more prepared for meeting their requirements, here is a thorough description of the four main local laws of the city that will give you deep insights into the matter.Let’s first understand how they were created and what goals the government pursues to achieve with the help of this legislation.

NYC government, with the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting against climate change, adopted a pack of local laws for large buildings. The laws (Local Laws 84, 85, 87 and 88) were passed under the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP) project started by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by Mayor Bloomberg in 2009. The laws require large building owners to keep a record of their energy and water consumption data which will then be used for developing better energy efficiency strategies.

As estimated, NYC buildings are responsible for a huge amount of the city’s (nearly 70%) greenhouse gas emissions. This proves the urgent need for the implementation of the above-mentioned local laws. Starting from the moment of their enactment, all the required buildings will have to submit the corresponding energy and water consumption data. Failing to meet the requirements might result in certain penalties.

The requirements differ from law to law and every building owner must know the details regarding them: what are the exact demands of these laws, how to comply with them, when are the deadlines, what’s the amount of penalties, etc.

In this guide, we will cover all of these points explaining the Local Laws 87, 84, 133 and 33 in detail.

  • Local Law 87: Requires building owners to carry out an energy audit and retro-commissioning every 10 years.
  • Local Law 84: Requires large building owners to submit benchmarking data (energy and water usage reports).
  • Local Law 133: Requires mid-size building owners to submit benchmarking data (energy and water usage reports).
  • Local Law 33: Requires building owners to display Energy Letter Grades and Benchmarking Scores at the entrance of their buildings in a visible place.

Local Law 87

Local Law 87 or LL87 enacted in 2009 requires all commercial and residential buildings over 50.000 square feet in the gross area to carry out an energy audit and retro-commissioning every 10 years. These two components of the law will make up the buildings’ Energy Efficiency Report (EER). The deadline for the report to be submitted to the NYC Department of Buildings is December 31st of the building’s reporting year.

To understand the requirements of the law better, you need to have insights about its two main components: energy audit and retro-commissioning. Here is what they actually mean:

Energy Audit: An energy audit is a systematic and regular analysis of a building’s energy equipment and systems as well as of its energy bills of two years. The energy equipment and systems include heating equipment, boilers, chillers, electrical and lighting systems, ventilation and HVAC systems and building envelope.

An energy audit is done with the purpose of determining the most energy-efficient solutions and cost-effective improvements that will eventually reduce the annual energy costs. The energy audit report comes with a list of recommended strategies on how to save energy, how much it will cost and what will the eventual payback be.

To carry out a high-quality and proper energy audit you will need a qualified energy auditor. This person will be responsible for creating a full technical proposal based on the monitoring of your building’s systems and equipment. As a result of the work of a qualified specialist, your building’s technical and operational needs will be detected and improved in the best way.

Retro-Commissioning: Retro-commissioning will ensure the proper installation and smooth performance of all your equipment. The process includes diagnostic monitoring, functional upgrading and repairing defects in existing base building systems. This is expected to lead to the improvement of the performance and the optimization of existing controls, sensors, valves and such systems which cannot be fully replaced.

Thus, as compared to an energy audit the goal of which is to determine the complex problems for reaching a building’s optimal functionality, retro-commissioning aims at upgrading all existing systems and controls to reach the highest energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency Report: It is also important for every building owner to understand the essence of an Energy Efficiency Report. An EER is made up of Professional Certification Forms and Data Collection Tools which are to be filled in electronically. The Professional Certification Forms represent the details about your building’s filing status, the structure of the auditing and retro-commissioning teams, a professional seal and qualifications as well as a statement of compliance from you as a building owner. Information regarding your building being exempt from having to do energy audit or retro-commissioning should also be included.

Data Collections Tools come with numerous sections some of which are the introduction, submitting, team and building information, details regarding the building’s equipment and the like.   

Local Law 87 Compliance

Here is who should comply with Local Law 87:

  • As already mentioned, all commercial and residential buildings over 50.000 square feet.
  • Two or more buildings that exceed 100.000 square feet together (this implies buildings on the same tax lot) and are owned by the city or at least, the city pays the annual energy bills for them - either completely or partially.
  • Two or more buildings held in the condominium form of ownership having the same board of managers and exceeding 100.000 square feet together (again owned by the city or having their energy bills paid by the city; partially or fully).

The buildings that are exempted from complying with Local Law 87 are as follows:

  • Buildings that take part in the tenant interim lease apartment purchase program
  • Buildings that take part in an HPD program
  • Buildings that are governed by NYC Health and Hospital Corporation
  • Cultural institutions that are included in the Cultural Institutions Group as per the Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Class 1 residential property which includes 1,2 and 3 family homes, condos and co-ops with no more than 3 dwelling units

As a building owner, you can learn your due date of submitting the Energy Efficiency Report according to the last digit of your building’s block number:

            Last Digit in Block Number                                           Compliance Deadline

                                8                                                                                    2018

                                 9                                                                                     2019

                                 10                                                                                      2020

                                   11                                                                                       2021

                                    12                                                                                        2022

What Penalties Should You Expect in Case of Noncompliance?

Now let’s have a look at what penalties you might receive, should you fail to comply with Local Law 87:

  1. If your building doesn’t comply with LL87 in the first year, you will be fined $3000. Noncompliance with the law in the coming years will result in $6000 (for every additional year) until you submit your EER to the Department of Buildings.

  2. A point worth noting here is that not submitting the report and failing to comply with the law will not just result in financial penalties. It is a Class 2 violation with the power to stop construction permits from being issued as well as to affect your building’s refinancing negatively.

Other important points regarding Local Law 87 that will surely interest building owners are the following:

  • If your building has an Energy Star Label, it will be released from having to conduct an energy audit for 2 or 3 years preceding the filing of its EER. However, you will still be required to submit a retro-commissioning report.A Complete Guide to NYC Local Laws.1-1
  • An energy audit will also not be required for those buildings which possess a certification under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) 2009 rating system for Existing Buildings published by the USGBC (US Green Buildings Council) or any other rating system for existing buildings. You won’t have to submit an EER report within 4 years prior to the filing of your building’s EER. You also won’t be required to conduct retro-commissioning if your building has received the LEED point for Existing Building Commissioning investigation and analysis and the LEED point for Existing Building Commissioning implementation.
  • If your building is less than 10 years old, it still doesn’t mean you won’t have to carry out an energy audit and retro-commissioning. The only time your building can be exempt from submitting an energy efficiency report is when all its base building systems comply with the NYC energy conservation code (in effect for new buildings constructed on or after July 1, 2010). And this is valid only for the first EER of a new building.

LL87 Filing Costs

The LL87 filing fees are as follows:

  1. An initial filing will cost $375
  2. An extension request - $155
  3. Amendments - $145

Boost your building’s energy efficiency, contribute to the decrease of GHG emissions and fight against global warming by complying with the requirements of Local Law 87.


Local Law 84

One of the codes passed under the NYC GGBP in 2009 is Local Law 84 or LL84. The law requires residential and commercial building owners to submit annual energy and water consumption reports. This process of annual measurement of energy and water usage is called benchmarking which is why the law itself is sometimes referred to as the Benchmarking Law.

Covered Buildings: LL84 covers the buildings only in 5 boroughs of the city: Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Here are the buildings that must comply with Local Law 84 according to the Department of Finance:

  • Buildings that come with an area of more than 50.000 square feet
  • Two or more buildings that have an area of more than 100.000 square feet together and fall on the same tax lot
  • Two or more buildings with an area of more than 100.000 square feet managed in the condominium form of proprietorship. They should also have the same board of head officers.

Find a few important terms regarding LL84 explained below to help you understand the list of covered buildings and other details better:

Benchmarking: Benchmarking involves the process of inputting and submission of the total amount of your building’s energy and water usage to the benchmarking tool i.e. to the US Environmental Protection Agency Portfolio Manager. Be sure to collect and submit the data of the previous year’s water and energy usage of your building.

It’s worth mentioning that the benchmarking tool is responsible for following and evaluating the way certain buildings use energy and water as compared to other buildings. It is a free online benchmarking tool that will help you become more energy efficient and save money by understanding all the existing opportunities you can take to reach such results.

City Building: This term refers to those buildings which come with the following features (can have several exceptions):

  1. Over 10.000 square feet in area
  2. Belong to the city
  3. The city covers the annual energy bills of these buildings (either fully or partially)

We talked about city buildings while representing LL87 above as well considering it important to separately describe the term here.

Let’s now see which buildings are also required to go through benchmarking despite not being included under the covered buildings category:

  • City buildings
  • Any other building that is the property of the city
  • Any real property considered to be class one as of the tax law about real property

Now that you know whether your building has to comply with Local Law 84 or not, it’s time to learn other important details regarding the overall benchmarking process.

  • The benchmarking reports must be submitted until May 1 every year.
  • The data collection process should take place somewhere between January 1st and April 30th.
  • There might be no need to carry out benchmarking of water usage if your building has been using an automatic meter reading equipment during the previous year. This equipment is provided by the Environmental Protection Department.
  • The person who will carry out the benchmarking process can be chosen by you. It can be a member of your office team, the property manager or a specialized energy consultant. The latter is highly recommended because many building owners don’t have much knowledge about the benchmarking tool. It’s always good to avoid any possible issues or problems by simply trusting a professional.

Deadlines and Penalties: There are 4 deadlines throughout the intervals of which you should manage to comply with LL84. Failing to meet them, you will have to face a penalty. With every missed deadline, your fine will increase:

  • May 31 is the last day to submit your benchmarking data without being fined.
  • August 1, November 1, February 1 - these are the dates of the rest of the 3 deadlines.
  • The amount of penalty for missing any of these deadlines will start from $500 (for missing the first deadline) increasing up to $2000 in a year (i.e. will be added up by $500 each time).

As a building owner, you will always be notified about not only the start of the benchmarking process but also for each time you happen to miss a deadline.

And last but not least, it’s crucial to keep a record of your last 3 benchmarking reports. Make sure that they have the following information included: confirmation email from EPA about the date of subscription, backup information related to energy use, calculations of the administrator and your copy of the energy data entered into the Portfolio Manager Tool.

Local Law 84 makes up a part of New York City’s greening initiative and will help board members make the most proficient decisions to help turn the world into a better and cleaner place for everyone.

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Local Law 133

Local Law 133 is, in essence, the expansion of Local Law 84. The law requires mid-size buildings with an area of 25.000-50.000 square feet to make annual energy reports. The enactment of this law added over 11.000 new buildings to the list of those that already carry out benchmarking.

LL133 was passed in October 2016, but the first reports were made on May 1, 2018. Despite the fact that the initial reports were optional, they will become obligatory for all the covered buildings starting from May 1, 2019.

Those who happen to fail to meet the deadline will be charged a penalty. A Notice of Violation from the NYC Department of Buildings will be sent to you and you will be fined $500. The penalty system is similar to that of LL84. If you don’t comply with the law and don’t submit the reports, a penalty will be charged every 3 months. The amount of the fine can rise up to $2000 a year.

Local Law 133 requires you to submit the energy and water usage data to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. The data should show energy and water consumption information of the previous calendar year. It should come with the details from all utility accounts and addresses that are connected to your building, even those for separately metered tenant spaces.

All the rules and requirements are pretty much the same as those of Local Law 84. You should collect the data every year from January 1 to April 30 in order to manage to meet the deadline (May 1).

The Covered Building List is published by the Department of Finance every February. As of the updates in October 2016, certain exclusions have been made to the list of buildings required to benchmark. The owners of the so-called “garden apartments” will be released from having to submit benchmarking reports. These are the residential buildings which lack an HVAC system or hot water heating system in the series of dwellings serving more than two units.

If you want to know whether or not your building is required to benchmark, simply have a look at your property tax bill from the Department of Finance, the section of “Greener, Greater Building’s Plan Compliance Notification.” Another way to learn about this is by checking the Covered Buildings List displayed on the GGBP website for your borough, block and lot number.

What is a Benchmarking Score?

You receive a benchmarking score as soon as you submit the reports. The score range is from 1 to 100, the latter being the best and highest point. Due to this scoring system, you will be able to compare your building’s energy efficiency level with that of other similar buildings.

A score of 60 means that your building is on a medium level as long as energy efficiency goes. A score of 75 and higher will help you qualify for an Energy Star designation. Scores lower than 60 indicate the building’s poor energy performance. It can imply that your building is wasting a lot of energy and money which surely will affect your bottom line negatively.

If this is the case with your building, don’t give up immediately - there are many ways to increase your score, become energy-efficient and comply with Local Law 133. You can start from the small things like upgrading to LED lighting, installing a stand-alone hot water production, making use of Energy Star qualified appliances and of course, ensuring your tenants are engaged in the implementation of energy efficiency strategies. And as the main way of reaching a high benchmarking score, you should hire a certified energy auditor for carrying out a detailed energy audit at your building.

Note: Keep in mind to keep records of your building’s energy usage for 3 years.

Local Law 33

With the passing of Local Law 33 on January 8, 2018, NYC keeps extending its energy efficiency policy started way back in 2009 with GGBP. This law makes things stricter for buildings which is good and beneficial for all parties involved: building owners, tenants, NYC government and the usual residents of the city.

Thus, according to LL33, all residential and commercial buildings over 25.000 square feet will receive an energy efficiency score. The basis of this new law is Local Law 84 or the Benchmarking law. The scores will be determined by considering your building’s energy benchmarking score discussed above. The benchmarking score is assigned by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Portfolio Manager.

It should be mentioned that though the law was passed last year, it will get into force only in 2020 which gives you time to improve your building’s energy efficiency and together with it your scores.

LL33 requires all the covered building owners to display their scores at a visible place near the entrance of their buildings. The grade will be made up of two components:

  • The Energy Star score (benchmarking score)
  • The Energy Grade

As noted above, the Energy Star score ranges from 1 to 100 and is determined according to the energy and water consumption data submitted under Local Law 84. As for the Energy Grade, it is generated in letters from A to F and will be based on your Energy Star score. Here is the grading system:

  A: 90-100

  B: 50-89

  C: 20-49

  D: 1-19

  F: This is for buildings which haven’t submitted the benchmarking reports

  N: This grade implies that the building has been released from benchmarking or is not covered by the Energy Star program.

A Complete Guide to NYC Local Laws.3This grading system makes things more transparent for everyone because people entering a building will immediately know the level of its energy efficiency. The good thing is that both the letter grades and the benchmarking scores will be displayed for utmost impartiality. Otherwise, if only the letter grades were to be displayed, it would mean that energy efficiency level of buildings with Energy Star scores of 50 and say, 89 are equal which is not true. There is a huge difference between a building with a benchmarking score of 50 and one with 89.

A score of 75 and more will get your building an Energy Star certification.

This law is expected to make building owners more motivated in becoming as energy-efficient as possible and saving money on their annual energy bills. This is beneficial not only for their bottom line but also for the world, for making it a better and a greener place.

Note: The grade should be displayed at your building entrance within 30 days after receiving it.

In order to meet the requirements of Local Law 33, it’s highly recommended to work with an Efficiency Advisor. Such a professional will help you collect and have a proper and precise benchmarking data as well as predict your future grade approximately (based on your current benchmarking score).

Contribute to taking benchmarking to the next level and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Get Support from Phoenix Energy

Phoenix Energy has years of expertise and a team of highly-qualified specialists that will ensure your building meets the requirements of the above-described local laws. Here is what Phoenix Energy offers to its clients:

  • Provision of local energy management services
  • Determination of all the energy efficiency opportunities and strategies
  • Help in finding incentives and rebates to cover any possible costs
  • Help in choosing the right energy supply option for your building
  • Benchmarking of energy usage
  • Advice in the process of selecting the right contractor for project assessment
  • Consistency in the management and monitoring of the whole workflow process
  • Certified energy management specialists and energy auditors for covering all your energy-related needs
  • Identification of energy procurement solutions for controlling and predicting your energy costs as well as for carrying out the right strategies during the seasons when energy costs rise

Phoenix Energy also does lighting retrofit, AC/DC motor conversion and Smart Thermostat upgrades. All it takes you is to trust our green energy gurus.

Have your building get into compliance with NYC’s Local Laws with the help of Phoenix Energy Group, increase your bottom line by becoming energy efficient and make your investment in building a cleaner and greener planet with a much more decreased amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

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