Expanding Local Law 84 benchmarking requirements: It should not come as a surprise - by George Crawford

August 01, 2017 - Owners Developers & Managers
George Crawford,
Green Partners

Local Law 84 Benchmarking filing requirements are expanding. Currently LL 84 requires that covered buildings that are 50,000 s/f or larger must file their Benchmarking Report annually. However, with this expansion, all covered buildings 25,000 s/f and larger must now file annually by May 1st  of each year (starting May, 2018). Benchmarking scores range from 1 – 100. Higher scores indicate higher levels of energy efficiency and lower scores, lower levels of efficiency. A Benchmarking score of 50 represents the median level of energy consumption for buildings nationwide. In NYC, the median score is somewhat higher – in the 60 range.

Considering the city’s overall energy savings goals, this benchmarking expansion should not come as any surprise. This expansion, which now includes thousands of smaller buildings, is designed to increase energy consumption awareness for as large a population of buildings as possible. The hoped for result is that buildings with scores under the median will be motivated to improve efficiencies.

The original Green House Gas reduction goal set under PlaNYC was 30% by 2030. Then a new more ambitious Green House Gas goal of an 80% reduction by 2050 was established. Realistically, Green House Gas reductions of an 80% magnitude are not going to “just” happen without a push for more conservation in order to ramp up the pace of Green House Gas reduction.

 For building owners, energy reduction has a positive upside. With today’s technology, literally every system in every building that consumes or conserves energy can be upgraded with a more energy efficient replacement. Some of the investment paybacks for these “replacement” upgrades can be very compelling. Every dollar of energy savings realized is a dollar that drops to the bottom line.

 A good example of new “replacement technology” generating compelling investment returns is LED. Because LED lighting products have dramatically lower levels of electric consumption, as compared to incandescent or fluorescent products that they are designed to replace, the average investment payback for LED retrofits is in the two year range. Rarely will you find a LED upgrade project that exceeds a three-year payback. These are very compelling returns which are backed by manufacturers warranties. These warranties are in effect the “guarantee” supporting your return on investment.

 So here you have a new and proven technology which can offer mind bending efficiencies and savings to buildings. At the same time you also have regulations on the books (LL 88 and LL 134) which require a money saving LED retrofit of every covered building in NYC that is 25,000 s/f or greater.

Addressing the requirements of these combined regulations (LL 88 and LL 134) and the potential for energy savings that will result from the required LED retrofit offers, an excellent example of the importance of looking out for each building’s best interest as these and other energy savings mandates are introduced.  While the city may view Local Law 88 and Local Law 134 and similar mandates as a mechanism to achieve broad scale energy reduction, each building needs to understand the specifics to ensure that its own best interests are achieved within the framework of each regulation. In this specific example, jumping into full compliance of Local Law 88 and Local Law 134 in advance of the Jan 1, 2025 deadline may NOT be the best plan for every building. Proceeding with the required lighting upgrade to LED where the party financing the retrofit receives the benefit of the reduced utility bills - is a “yes.” That step goes into the “do it now” category. However, proceeding with the required lighting upgrades in offices where another party, the tenant, receives the benefit – is a “NO” – at least for now. This upgrade may be eventually required - by January 1, 2025 – so this step can be deferred. The same goes for the sub metering provisions. It may all need to be done – eventually - but there is no reason to rush into early compliance where other parties receive the benefit of the investment.

 For the thousands of newly covered buildings in the 25,000 to 50,000 s/f range, the expansion of energy conservation related Local Laws, including LL 84 Benchmarking, opens up requirements into uncharted territory. For specific answers to Local Law 84 questions, go to: “NYC Benchmarking Law Frequently Asked Questions” – a printer friendly “site” which includes instructions as well as a Benchmarking Help contact number. For buildings over 50,000 s/f, see this as a heads up to carefully review all required energy saving regulations to make sure that you develop your own best track for compliance.   

George Crawford is the principal of Green Partners, New York, N.Y.

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