Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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Energy Issues
Energy Grades, Lighting Upgrades, Retrofit Accelerator, NYC Water

Published: Spring 2018

In 2009, the City Council enacted a group of laws designed to improve the energy and water efficiency of New York City's largest existing buildings. These laws form the basis for the Greener, Greater Building Plan, which can be found online at www.NYC.ggbp. GGBP is part of New York City's plan for sustainable growth called PlaNYC, which targets a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

GGBP is a comprehensive, mandatory policy that addresses energy efficiency in large, existing buildings throughout the city. It begins by requiring that all renovations that impact energy systems meet the standards of the New York State energy code to ensure energy benefits from the natural cycle of building upgrades.

Local Law 84 of 2009 established the requirement that buildings of 50,000 square feet or more benchmark their water and energy use annually. The information is entered online in the EPA Portfolio Manager which compares energy data – and now water data – with buildings of similar use all over the country and develops an ENERGY STAR score for each participating building. 50 is the median energy score on this scale.

The large buildings began benchmarking in 2013. In 2016, the requirement was extended to buildings of 25,000 to 50,000 square feet, who had to record their 2017 energy and water use in the spring of 2018. The City has led by example, benchmarking city owned properties first and reporting on their progress in energy conservation. The City also provided outreach and help desks to facilitate the benchmarking process and subsequent energy improvements (See Retrofit Accelerator on page 11).

On December 19, 2017, the City Council passed Int. 1632, requiring buildings covered by Local Law 84 to post at the building entrance their Energy Star score and the letter grade to which it corresponds. This system is expected to trigger more energy efficiency improvements as owner and boards strive to make their building as competitive as possible to energy conscious tenants. No building that submits benchmarking data gets a failing letter grade. Some building are not subject to the Benchmarking law and some building categories are not covered by the Energy Star program. There is a special "N" grade for these properties to post. The grade scale is as follows

Letter Grade Energy Star Score
A 90 or higher
B 50 to 89
C 20 to 49
D 0 to 19
F No Data submitted
N Not required to Benchmark

Local Law 87 of 2009 required that buildings of 50,000 or more square feet commission an energy audit every ten years (predicated on the last digit of the property block number) and perform the tuning or retro-commissioning of energy equipment recommended by the audit. Between the more efficient operation of the building that results from these recommendations and the increased public awareness of energy costs and energy efficiency, it is anticipated that building owners, boards, tenants and prospective purchasers will look favorably on continuing upgrading of building systems for even more increased energy efficiency.

The final piece of the Greater, Greener Building Plan is Local Law 88 of 2009, which requires lighting upgrades and sub-metering of unit electricity, with a report to be submitted to the City on or before January 1, 2025, prepared by a registered design professional or licensed master or special electrician to confirm lighting compliance with Local Law 88 and certifying that a submetering system is in place. Buildings required to comply with Local Law 87 must also meet the requirements of Local Law 88. A list of these buildings by borough, block and lot number can be found on the NYC website by searching 2018 LL87 covered buildings.

Although this list clearly includes cooperatives and condominiums, the terms of Local Law 88 are directed to commercial buildings, and there are no regulations yet to clarify the responsibilities of co-op and condo boards. CNYC has requested that these regulations acknowledge that shareholders/unit owners are responsible for the interior of their apartments and has requested that boards therefore not be required to report on lighting inside those units.

But that leaves all common areas, stairwells, basement, roof, etc., making it practical to begin planning soon for Local Law 88 compliance, particularly if electricity is not currently submetered in your building. It is suggested that a tracking document be developed now, covering all areas of the building and listing what is known of the status of its lighting.

Local Law 88 specifically requires the installation or modification of the lighting system of a covered building to comply with the standards established by the Section 805 of the Energy Code established July 1, 2010 for new systems, including all of the following elements: lighting controls (interior lighting controls, light reduction controls and automatic lighting shutoff), tandem wiring, exit signs, interior lighting power requirements and exterior lighting.

No individual component of the lighting system that already meet those standards need be upgraded.

Additionally, Local Law 88 encourages electrical submetering and requires that tenants occupying 10000 feet or more must be individually submetered. Adapting this to cooperatives and condominiums, CNYC strongly suggests submetering for all apartments so that individual residents pay for the electricity used in their unit. Finally, Local Law 88 mandates that from January 1, 2025, owners must send tenants monthly statements showing their electricity use.

Submetering technology is advancing rapidly and can already pinpoint the brief period of highest use. This information can help tenants participate in 'flattening the demand curve' which currently is a major component of electricity bills from master meters and is likely to continue to be a factor. If planning now to submeter or to upgrade simple mechanical meters, do consider these options.

As part of the Greater, Greener Building Plan, the Mayor's Office of Long- Term Planning and Sustainability established the Retrofit Accelerator program as a resource to help guide buildings and their owners or boards through energy retrofit processes. The program offers free, personalized advisory services that streamline the process of making energy efficiency and water conservation improvements to the building and help buildings currently burning #4 heating oil to convert to cleaner fuels, thus reducing operating costs, enhancing tenant comfort, and improving the environment.

Retrofit Accelerator advisors provide one-on-one assistance to help buildings understand the requirements of the Greater, Greener Building Plan, to interpret the results of their energy audits and identify upgrades best suited to the building and its budget. They can help with contractor selection, securing necessary permits, analyzing costs and explaining financing options, connecting with education and training programs and monitoring the results of each project. Often the success of one project will produce savings to help finance the next.

At CNYC's 38th Annual Housing Conference on Sunday, November 11th, representatives of the Retrofit Accelerator will participate in classes on energy topics and will have a table in the Exhibit Hall. The Conference brochure will be posted on the CNYC website in August.

There is no cost to consult with the experts at the Retrofit Accelerator. Your building may need only an hour or two of their time, or may enter into a relationship of weeks or months as they help you analyze your energy needs, prioritize your projects and then turn plans into reality.

You can reach the retrofit Accelerator by dialing 311 or calling 212 656-9202 or at

Each day, more than 1 billion gallons of high quality, fresh, clean water is delivered from large upstate reservoirs – some more than 125 miles from the City—to the taps of nine million customers throughout New York State, including all boroughs of New York City.

The City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shares with the New York State Department of Health and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the responsibility for maintaining the quality of New York City water. DEP monitors the water in the distribution system, upstate reservoirs and feeder streams, and wells that are sources for New York City's drinking water supply. The 2017 Drinking Water Quality Testing Report shows that the quality of New York tap water compares very favorably with all alternatives.

Water for New York City residents comes from three upstate reservoir systems which include 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes with a total storage capacity of approximately 580 billion gallons. The three water collection systems were designed and built with various interconnections to increase flexibility by permitting exchange of water from one to another. This feature mitigates localized droughts and takes advantage of excess water in any of the three watersheds. In comparison to other public water systems, this system is both economical and flexible. Approximately 95% of the water is delivered to the consumer by gravity. Only about 5% of the water is regularly pumped to maintain the desired pressure. As a result, operating costs are relatively insensitive to fluctuations in the cost of power. In drought conditions, additional pumping is required.

This complex system of tunnels, aquaducts and reservoirs culminates in two tunnels, opened in 1917 and 1936 respectively, that bring water into the city. Concern about the age and condition of these tunnels prompted the decision to construct City Water Tunnel No. 3.

Begun in 1970, City Water Tunnel No. 3 is being built in stages, and is one of the largest capital projects in New York City history. Already it enhances and improves New York City's water delivery system and is creating redundancy to enable the City to inspect and repair City Water Tunnels No. 1 and 2 for the first time since they were put into service.

The 13-mile Stage 1 section of City Water Tunnel No. 3 went into service in August 1998. It runs from Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers, through the Bronx, down Manhattan across Central Park, and into Queens. Stage 2 consists of the Manhattan and the Brooklyn/Queens leg. Tunneling on the 9-mile Manhattan leg began in 2003 and was completed in 2008. Since 2008 ten new supply shafts have been constructed to integrate the new tunnel section with the existing distribution system. The Manhattan leg was activated on October 16, 2013. The Brooklyn/Queens leg is a 5.5 mile section in Brooklyn that connects to a 5-mile section in Queens. The City completed the Brooklyn/Queens leg of the tunnel in May 2001, and substantially completed the shafts in 2006. The project is scheduled for completion in the 2020s. When activated, the Brooklyn/Queens leg will deliver water to Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens.

For additional information concerning drinking water visit safewater and see a map of the NY watershed system at dep/html/drinking_water/wsmaps_ wide.shtml


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