Hundreds of building owners get undeserved “F” energy grades

Error in Con Edison data reporting: DOB

(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty, GKV)
(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty, GKV)

Hundreds of New York City buildings were slapped with F letter grades for energy efficiency last week, but the city says the fault for the bump in failures lies in Con Edison’s reporting.

Several hundred buildings received the failing grade by mistake, the Department of Buildings’ Andrew Rudansky told The City. Those grades are being pinned on data reporting errors by the utility company, which said it is working to resolve the issues.

According to the grading system, a D is actually the worst a building can do because an F means the property didn’t submit data. Updated scores could be released next month.

Landlords have previously taken issue with the system, saying the grades can spark shame around their properties.

Those who fail to post their score publicly were subject to a $1,250 fine at the end of October, but Rudansky said those waiting for an adjustment on their F won’t be penalized for failing to post. Nearly 2,000 addresses received Fs in the last month, roughly 10 percent of all new grades.

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Grades are calculated using an Energy Star metric that compares the energy consumption of buildings across the country with similar densities and uses. They became required when Local Law 95 passed in 2018; buildings with 20,000 square feet or more are subject to the regulation.

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Beyond the reporting snafu, energy efficiency appears to be improving slightly throughout the city. In 2021, 20.1 percent of buildings earned an A and 16.5 percent earned a B. Preliminary data for this year scores the A share at 20.5 percent and Bs at 17.2 percent. Meanwhile, buildings with a D grade dropped by 3.6 percentage points.

While landlords only get fined for failing to post their grades, another environmental law coming into effect soon has more bite. Starting in 2024, Local Law 97 will subject building owners to a fine of $268 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions above a certain threshold.

— Holden Walter-Warner