News Brief

Energy Grades to Be Posted in NYC

Whether it earns an A or an F, each building in New York City has to display its energy grade.

February 5, 2018

Photo of the Empire State Building, New York City.  Energy grades in NYC will have to be posted near building entrances.

The new law applies to more than 36,000 buildings.

Photo: Sam Valadi. License: CC BY 2.0.
New York City will soon require posting of energy use “grades” near building entrances.

The new law builds on an existing transparency regulation—a “benchmarking and disclosure” law passed in 2009 that applies to all privately owned buildings larger than 25,000 ft2 and to City-owned buildings larger than 10,000 ft2. The existing benchmarking law requires building owners to compare their energy use against national averages through the Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool. They then disclose their energy data and Energy Star score through a publicly accessible database.

With the new regulation, the Energy Star score will get translated into a letter grade from A to D, and building owners must post their grades in a prominent location, such as the building entrance or lobby. An Energy Star score of 90 or higher receives an A, while a score below 20 is a D. Buildings will receive an F if owners don’t benchmark and disclose their energy use.

Thousands of buildings

The new law will apply to approximately 36,700 privately owned properties starting in 2020, according to a statement from the New York City Mayor’s Office.

“We anticipate that there will be some effect upon transactional decisions by consumers” like tenants and buyers, says the statement. But “the greater effect will be upon the general public” as prominent posting of the easily understandable grades “ingrains energy awareness into the consciousness of everyday users.”

Some opposition to energy grades

Not everyone is excited about the new law. Carl Hum, senior vice president of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), explained why his organization opposed the new regulation.

REBNY agrees with the law’s intent of “creating awareness and creating appreciation of energy efficiency,” Hum told BuildingGreen. “Our membership has totally embraced that.” Yet REBNY objects to what it sees as an over-simplification of Energy Star scores, which are on a 1 to 100 scale rather than an A to D scale. “Energy Star considers 75 to be a top performer,” Hum continued, “but under this bill, it would be a B.”

The result? Some of the most energy-efficient buildings in the city could have grades of B—even the recently renovated Empire State Building. Hum fears prospective tenants may start demanding lower rents due to what they perceive to be inferior energy scores.

That’s what success looks like

But that’s the exact intention of the law, the Mayor’s Office points out.

“We as a society must collectively eliminate energy waste, optimize our utilization of energy, and use energy much more effectively than we do today if we are to have any impact on greenhouse gas emissions and our contributions to climate change,” says the statement. “A public disclosure of the energy performance of a building that affects transactional choices … would be a hallmark of the success of the law.”

More on building benchmarking laws

Energy Reporting: It’s the Law

Energy Use, Carbon Emissions Down in NYC Buildings

New Energy Data Is Changing How We Judge Efficiency—and LEED

For more information:

The New York City Council
legistar.council.nyc.gov

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