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Green Buildings: Laws and Practices

New York City Local Law 97

In the past, concerns with buildings have generally revolved around the health risk that the building’s materials might cause to its occupants. Rules and regulations were imposed, and laws were enacted, to deal with asbestos and lead paint related health risks, for example. Recently, however, there has been a new focus on enacting rules and regulations aimed at making buildings more “green” and environmentally friendly. The driving force behind many of these new green laws is an effort to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from these buildings.

These new laws result in an extremely heavy monetary burden on landlords, as many own buildings that were built many years ago and are therefore not up to the “environmentally friendly” standards that modern climate activists are calling for. Aside from the monetary burden of needing to install and implement new equipment and programs, if a landlord is not in compliance with these new laws, there can be monetary fines imposed against the landlord. There has, of course, been some pushback from landlords on these new laws.

One of the more well-known, new green laws in New York City is Local Law 97. What is Local Law 97? Local Law 97 is part of New York City’s effort to address building emissions and make the city carbon neutral by the year 2050. The law requires certain buildings to minimize the amount of energy they use, because by reducing energy usage, the city is hopeful that carbon emissions will be reduced as well. Starting in the year 2025, each building will be required to submit an emissions report to New York City so that city officials can monitor whether the building has been in compliance with Local Law 97.

In an effort to incentivize building owners to comply with Local Law 97, New York City will be offering rebates, tax incentives, and certain grants for building owners. Additionally, the city is offering long term, low interest rate loans that a building owner can apply for - the proceeds of which need to be used to retrofit the building to make it more energy efficient.

Aside from the direct financial impact that landlords are going to suffer due to the extreme costs of the implementation and fines associated with Local Law 97, there are also the negative effects that tenants are also going to feel. It is likely impossible for every landlord to carry the costs of Local Law 97 alone, meaning landlords will be required to pass on that cost, or at least a portion thereof, to their tenants. This will inevitably reduce the number of apartments that certain tenants can afford.

It’s clear that there are many considerations to consider with regards to Local Law 97 and its effects on the real estate market. The ramifications for not thoroughly understanding the requirements of these new green laws will cause landlords to go out of business, and tenants to face potential housing troubles. It is therefore crucial to make sure to have proper representation when negotiating your lease. For more information on Local Law 97, or for help on your next lease agreement, reach out to the knowledgeable real estate attorneys at KI Legal by calling (212) 404-8644 or emailing

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