Council Looks at Green Buildings Law

April 9, 2021

The New York City Council Environmental Protection Committee and Capital Budget Subcommittee held a joint oversight hearing on Monday on Local Law 97, which limits large buildings’ carbon emissions and issues penalties for exceeding them.

The hearing focused on the City’s effort to implement the law and its portfolio of buildings. Melanie La Rocca, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings, provided most of the Administration’s testimony. She detailed funding and staffing for the new Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance (OBEEP), which was established to monitor and implement Local Law 97. She said that the law’s long-awaited carbon trading study will be released soon but did not provide any further details.

Numerous environmental justice advocates also testified. Most called on the City to provide greater staffing for OBEEP and funding for City building retrofits. They also opposed a provision in earlier drafts of the State budget to allow New York City building owners to offset their carbon emissions by purchasing renewable energy credits from elsewhere in New York State. The provision was not included in the final budget that passed earlier this week. Some advocates also called for higher noncompliance penalties to force buildings into compliance rather than accepting fines as the cost of doing business.

The Real Estate Board of New York argued that the law is flawed and that many buildings are simply incapable of compliance before the energy grid becomes less reliant on fossil fuels.

GNYHA is committed to ensuring that the green buildings law does not unfairly burden hospitals. Informing our efforts are regular meetings with member engineers and sustainability experts as the implementation process continues.