Energy Benchmarks


By Geoffrey R. Mazel Esq.

In December 2009, the New York City Council amended the administrative code to require owners of real property to submit a report to the city, benchmarking the energy and water efficiency of buildings. This was part of four legislative components known as the “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan designed to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions from New York buildings.

These laws require annual energy efficiency benchmarking that will be disclosed to the public and mandate a set of energy-efficient upgrades. The first component of these laws is known as Local Law 84, which requires the benchmarking of buildings. This is probably the law your friend was referring to in your conversation.

Local Law 84 requires the submission of an annual benchmarking report by New York City building owners. However, it is important to note that this law applies only to buildings that exceed 50,000 gross square feet. Let’s hope your coop does not exceed that, exempting you from the requirement. All covered buildings under Local Law 84 should have received a letter from the Department of Finance titled “Requirement to Benchmark Energy Usage,” which would have outlined your building’s obligations under this law.

If you never received this letter, that may be an indication that your building is exempt from this submission requirement based on the size of your building. I strongly suggest you check the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) website to see if your building is on the list of those covered.

The scenario outlined above is the best-case scenario. If your building is on the list of covered buildings and/or you have been recieving compliance letters from the DOB and still have not made the submissions, you need to contact a professional immediately.  Most of these submissions have been prepared and submitted by consulting engineers.  The extended deadlne for the 201 submissions were December 31, 2011, so time is of the essence to do this immediately.

What are the ramifications for non-compliance? According to Local Law 84, “it shall be unlawful for the owner of a covered building to fail to benchmark.” On March 30, 2011, the DOB released a set of rules regarding benchmarking. This notice states that failure to benchmark by August 1, 2011, or by May 1 of subsequent years, may result in a penalty of $500. Continued failure to benchmark may result in additional violations on a quarterly basis and an additional penalty of $500 per violation.

As you can see, if your building is covered by this statute, noncompliance can be quite costly.

By Geoffrey R. Mazel Esq.
Habitat Magazine/
March 2012