NY unveils “playbook” for building owners to cut emissions

Time running short for landlords to comply with carbon caps

With the clock ticking on owners of the city’s biggest buildings to cut emissions, the state has launched a resource to steer them through the process.

Dubbed the carbon neutrality playbook, the online guide outlines four steps for owners to reduce greenhouse gases without breaking the bank.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, joined by Mayor Eric Adams, announced it Thursday at the Empire State Building, which has gotten the green treatment from owner Empire State Realty Trust.

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The tool’s launch comes two years before landlords of properties 25,000 square feet or larger must curb their carbon footprint or face fines of $268 for every metric ton that exceeds the limits imposed by the city’s Local Law 97.

Only the city’s highest emitters — about 20 percent of the building stock — will need to make significant changes to comply with 2024 caps. Stricter limits coming in 2030 will affect three out of every four buildings.

The playbook says owners should first create a dedicated team to spearhead portfolio-wide carbon cuts. The team should reach out to contractors who can estimate project costs, and run retrofit plans by tenants who may be disrupted by renovations.

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The next step is a building analysis. The team should review architectural drawings, utility use, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing plans to inform an energy model — a breakdown of consumption and expenditures.

A point person should also evaluate when leases will expire; vacancies can be used to get work done.

Step three is the energy model, which identifies how the building performs during every hour of the year.

Finally, those findings will be used to craft an emissions-cutting roadmap that compares the costs of retrofit plans, calculates savings from avoided fines, outlines financing options and analyzes the long-term cost savings of renovations.

Within each step of the guide, the state has also included examples of retrofits planned or performed by L+M Development Partners, Hines, Empire State Realty Trust and Omni New York, who were chosen by the state to model energy refits.

The Durst Organization, the Real Estate Board of New York and others have argued that some buildings, despite being energy efficient, cannot economically comply with Local Law 97 because they are packed with tenants who rely heavily on servers.

But the state intends the four case studies to serve as proof that while retrofits are daunting, they can be done.