Everything condos and co-ops should know about Local Law 154

If you read our last article on New York City’s local energy laws, you might remember buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City (ahh!). 

To counteract these stunning emission figures, New York City passed the Climate Mobilization Act, which includes the infamous Local Law 97. But the city isn’t stopping there. Enter Local Law 154 of 2021, which (in essence) bans fossil fuel systems in new building constructions. 

You may read “new building constructions” and think, “My building’s in the clear!” But if you’ve got some major renovations on the horizon, you just might qualify. And with Local Law 97 right around the corner, there are a number of exciting, innovative solutions being used in new building constructions that can be leveraged to help all NYC buildings hit upcoming emissions thresholds. 

So, let’s discuss Local Law 154, the city’s biggest push toward all-electric buildings, how it may affect your co-op or condo, and what new energy solutions are leading the way to achieve cleaner, greener buildings.

Why was Local Law 154 passed?

Did you know that fossil fuel systems in buildings - think your typical furnaces, boilers, and water heaters - cause more than 40% of New York City’s carbon emissions? What’s worse, by continuing to install oil and gas systems and appliances in new buildings, we’re setting ourselves up to continue on this path of high emissions and further irreversible damage to the planet.

With about 1,000 to 3,000 buildings constructed in NYC every year, Local Law 154 sets out to steer our city toward more sustainable living by encouraging the use of electric and renewable energy alternatives from the get-go.

What does Local Law 154 say?

The law doesn’t flat out ban fossil fuels. But, it basically does. Starting in 2024, new buildings will be prohibited from emitting more than 25 kg CO2e/mmBtu - which, in layman’s terms - immediately scraps any use of fossil fuel systems (including propane, diesel, natural gas, and more).

Who does Local Law 154 affect?

As mentioned, the primary focus is on new building constructions. New buildings under seven stories are required to be running all-electric beginning in January 2024 while those over seven stories will need to comply beginning July 2027.

Things then get a little interesting as major renovations may also fall under these new rules. Right now, the law specifies that buildings with construction projects that increase the floor surface area by more than 110% will qualify. Most condos and co-ops will probably not be affected by Local Law 154, but further details and amendments may come out in the coming months and years. So, it’s best to keep an eye on this.

While Local Law 154 doesn’t discuss retrofitting current buildings, Local Law 97 is just around the corner (check out our full article here). For a bit of a refresher, Local Law 97 is another part of the city’s push to reduce building emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The law requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to meet lower emissions limits over the next decade. And while the upcoming 2024 emissions thresholds will only impact the top 20% of emitters, things ramp up in 2030 to impact 75% of New York City buildings. This means that most condos/co-ops need to start preparing today (more like yesterday) to comply with the 2030 goals. 

With both laws working toward the same goal of lowering carbon emissions, exciting energy solutions are on the rise that both existing and new building constructions should take note of.

The rise of new energy solutions

With the Climate Mobilization Act and now Local Law 154, the city’s major push toward greener buildings is on everyone’s mind. Many condos and co-ops are wondering, what’s the best course of action for my building? Right now, electrification is winning the game - for new buildings and retrofits alike. For example:

  • Electric heat pumps: Most furnaces and boilers burn fuel to produce heat, while heat pumps use electricity to send heat where it’s desired and remove heat where it’s not. This gives you both heating and cooling solutions for the price of one - all while reducing energy use by 50%.
  • Electric appliances: While a bit of a hassle (and a bit costly) to install, upgrading from gas appliances, like a gas range stove, to electric induction ranges can radically improve indoor air quality and lower energy usage and costs in the long run. 
  • LED lighting: Using LED lighting is said to use at least 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting - that’s good for the planet and your wallet.

There are still a lot of new solutions being tested, data being gathered, and systems (like the New York City electric grid) being future-proofed. Keep an eye out for a slew of new energy studies, articles, and more coming out in the very near future.

Final thoughts

New York City’s local energy laws may be ambitious, but they’re crucial to achieving more sustainable living in our city - today, tomorrow, and into the future. Plus, the result will be healthier, more autonomous buildings. At Daisy, we’re excited to continue bringing new innovations and technology into the way we run buildings and be a part of making more buildings places people want to live. Learn more about Daisy here.