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Tips for Building Owners on How to Comply with Local Law 87 Before It’s Too Late

Commercial buildings in the US consume 39% of America’s energy and 68% of its electricity. They further emit 38% of the carbon dioxide. Studies also show that lightning, HVAC, and office equipment are responsible for most of the energy consumption in a typical building, which is good news for these are readily manageable.

Tip #1  Understand the law correctly

NYC Local Law 87 (LL87) mandates buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to submit an Energy Efficiency Report (EER) every 10 years. It reports energy audit results & retro-commissioning measures that validate the operating conditions of building systems.

What are you required to do under LL87?
– Determine whether your building needs to comply as well as which year is the compliance due
– Conduct periodic energy audits & retro-commissioning of base building systems
– Complete and submit the EER – Energy Efficiency Report, electronically
– Submit the EER once every 10 years to the city by December 31st.

Exemptions from Local Law 87 if

The building has received an EPA Energy Star label for 2/3 years before the audit due date

The building has received LEED certification for existing buildings within 4 years before the audit due date.

Tip #2 Penalties

Non-submission automatically results in violations, which charge a fine of $3,000 in the first year and $5,000 every year after. The Department of Buildings is responsible for the enforcement of the local law 87 and it deems non-compliance a class 2 violation. The DOB also intends to conduct random reviews of the documents that have been submitted under the law. 

According to Local Law 87, the compliance date is determined by the last digit of a building’s tax block number. It repeats every 10 years. For example, if the block number ends in 2, the EER report is due by the end of 2022 and the next compliance is due in 2032.

Tip #3 Don’t panic if you missed the due date; here’s how you apply for an extension

Local Law 87 Extension
There are extension provisions available in cases of failed and untimely submissions. The provision also extends to a building suffering from financial hardships. An extension request costs $155 and must be filed by October 1st of the year when the report is due.  

Tip #4 Understand the difference between energy audit & retro-commissioining  


Energy Audit Retro-commissioning
  • The law requires an Energy Audit to be performed by or under the supervision of an energy auditor.  
  • The results of the report have to be filed with the Department of Buildings as an ‘energy efficiency report’, which comprises information on audit as well as retro-commissioning.  
  •  It is basically a study of a building’s energy-using equipment. The objective is to discover ways (Energy Conservation Measures) for the facility to practice energy reduction without compromising on the current and/or planned operations.  
  • The auditor will further quantify potential savings, or a simple payback period and their associated cost of implementation.
  • Before filing the report, owners must ensure for the retro-commissioning has been completed by a retro-commissioning agent for the required base systems. This is an organized process of documentation that identifies low-cost operational & maintenance improvements in the existing buildings. 
  • It includes a proper analysis of operating protocols, calibration and sequencing, cleaning and repairs, and training and documentation issues. The focus lies on mechanical equipment, lighting, and related controls to optimize performance as opposed to major equipment replacement. 
  • It typically begins with studying past utility bills & conducts interviews with the facility personnel, followed by execution and analysis of diagnostic monitoring and functional tests of building systems. These are finally retested and re-monitored to fine-tune improvements, all of which result in improved indoor air quality, comfort, controls, & energy, and resource efficiency. 

Tip #5 Here’s how you select your energy provider

Navigating the compliance landscape can most understandably seem overwhelming, all the more with regard to finding an expert. Here’s a list of all the questions you should ask along with the kind of answers you should expect:-

1. How long have you been providing LL87 services?
Ideally, you should look for people who have around 5 years of experience as that inevitably mandates a deep understanding of the subject – how it’s evolved, current processes, actionable ideas, etc.

2. How quickly can you get the energy audit & retro-commissioning done?
Be wary of providers that promise speed. It takes much longer than a mere couple of weeks to comprehensively complete the study. We recommend a safe time of 6 months.

3. Does your staff include Professional Engineer (PE) and/or registered architects?
The amendment done to the LL87 explicitly requires one as all the reports need to be ultimately signed off by them.

4. What is your approach to energy auditing and retro-commissioning?
An experienced provider looks at the building interconnectedly – all of the building’s systems, are dynamic as a part of a living being. That is, improving one aspect inherently impacts the other. No changes must be made in isolation.


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