Will Your Building Have to Post Energy Efficiency Scores?

Local Law 33 adds another requirement to Benchmarking standards: posting your property’s Energy Efficiency Grade publicly.

Local Law 33 introduces § 28-309.12 to Article 309, where regulations about Benchmarking Energy and Water Use for covered buildings live. This new section of the law outlines the requirement to obtain an Energy Efficiency Grade and an Energy Efficiency Score, and post the same near the building’s public entrance.

Will my building have to comply?

If your building is under the Covered Buildings List, an annual list of properties required to submit Benchmarking data (that just expanded to include properties 25,000 – 49,999 sq. ft.), yes.

What are Energy Efficiency Grades and Scores?

According to the text of the law, grades are based on “an energy efficiency score assigned through the benchmarking tool,” based on a specific range. For example, scores of 90 and above are A grades, with 50 – 89, 20 – 49, and 19 or less carrying grades of B, C, and D, respectively. Failing to perform Benchmarking requirements at all begets an F grade, while buildings unable to obtain scores for department-ruled reasons will receive a grade of N.

When does this go into effect?

Starting in 2020, and annually going forward, owners of covered buildings must use the Benchmarking tool to obtain an energy efficiency score. Based on the score, the department will then issue a grade based on the above rules. After obtaining the grade, the owner of the building has 30 days to post the grade and the score “in a conspicuous location near each public entrance to such building.” Specifics about the posting – what kind of material, size, etc. – are to be determined, and are left to the Department of Buildings in the law.

In addition to the public posting, the DOB will also collect grades and list them online before May 1st of the following year (the traditional Benchmarking deadline – though not in 2018). The DOB will also be responsible for auditing this information annually. Finally, a city agency designated by the Mayor will provide a report on the value of the energy asset score in predicting energy performance for buildings, and whether or not (and how) scores should be disclosed.

Why is this important?

  • It’s another rule that will likely have some sort of enforcement – With new requirements (usually) comes new violations. Buildings who fail to post scores will likely face some sort of fine or enforcement action.
  • Scores and Grades will be publicly accessible data that could impact your building – Commercial and residential properties may now face questions about their specific energy score from tenants concerned about energy usage and the environment. If your building doesn’t have an energy strategy now, it may be worth thinking about in the future.
  • For restaurants especially, this could be confusing – Having to post a letter grade near public entrances may confuse restaurant patrons used to seeing letter grades for NYC eateries. For example, a poor energy grade could be mistaken for a restaurant grade. That said, the DOB has yet to publish guidelines on what the posted grades should look like. It’s possible they may be visually different to avoid this type of confusion.

While this specific rule is still a few years away from the enforcement date, now’s a great time time to start reviewing your property’s energy plan – especially if you’re a covered building.

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About the Author

Kristen Hariton

Kristen Hariton is the Vice President, Product Engagement at SiteCompli, focused on exploring new solutions and innovations in property operations tech. When she's not sharing the latest industry trends, changes, and updates, she's planning her next adventure to Walt Disney World.