Coming Soon To a Major City Near You — Building Energy Efficiency Standards

Members of the New York City Council have introduced a proposal to impose mandatory building energy efficiency standards.  The standards, which vary by building type and use, would apply to buildings greater than 25,000 square feet, though rent-regulated buildings would be exempt.  

The real estate industry is a powerful force in New York City and I believe that our current President may have some views on this legislation.  Nonetheless, the bill does have 25 sponsors, including the Speaker.

The standards are expressed as annual limits on carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, based on different emissions intensity limits applicable to different categories of buildings.  The limits would first be effective in 2022, with increasingly stringent limits over time.  There are variance provisions, including one related to economic hardship.

We are not long removed from the advent of requirements on building owners to report energy usage.  When the reporting obligations were first imposed, including Boston’s Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance, local governments were quick to reassure the real estate industry that this was merely a reporting obligation, intended to ensure that market participants had information about building energy use.

Nonetheless, property owners understood that such reporting requirements were merely the nose of the camel.  It now appears that, as in the parable, the camel is politely suggesting that it follow its nose into the tent.

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