Building Energy Performance Charts Course to Local Law Compliance

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Michael Berry, New Buildings Manager for NYC Accelerator

Fines associated with local building energy laws are taking effect, requiring New York City property owners and builders to consider installing energy-efficient technology. For new buildings, there are two pathways that projects may take to comply with NYC building energy laws—the prescriptive and performance options.

The prescriptive pathway outlines specific building upgrades for improving building energy efficiency and sets thresholds for building energy law compliance. According to sustainability consultants, it provides architects and engineers with a familiar way to meet the city’s energy codes by simplifying the design and documentation process. However, the prescriptive option only provides a pathway for current law compliance. NYC building energy laws will become more stringent over three major penalty periods: 2024–2029, 2030–2034, and 2035 and beyond.

Additionally, the prescriptive pathway does not test to make sure that the energy conservation measures installed are performing as they should. For instance, the prescriptive code will confirm the minimum level of insulation required for a wall cavity but will not grade the installation to ensure peak performance.

In contrast, the performance pathway helps buildings meet energy efficiency standards that are more stringent than New York City’s local building energy laws. It guarantees effective installation, air and water tightness, and thermal insulation. By using energy modeling and performance testing, the performance pathway helps buildings reduce energy use and cut carbon emissions, lowering costs and avoiding fines now and in the future.

Making an investment in the performance-tested, energy-efficient design features included in the performance pathway can also:

  • Increase property value and make a building more attractive to buyers and tenants for years to come
  • Provide a faster return on investment and enhance long-term affordability
  • Improve indoor air quality and comfort with better insulation, high-performance windows, and efficient HVAC systems
  • Enhance a building’s resilience to extreme weather events with backup power systems, flood-resistant construction, and robust building envelopes

There are resources available to help offset the costs associated with enhanced energy efficiency measures. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers clean energy grants of up to $25,000 for buildings in environmental justice communities.

In addition, NYC Accelerator is a city program that provides technical assistance, resources, and training for building professionals. The program has assisted over 10,000 buildings since 2015 and offers free help with identifying energy conservation measures for new buildings to reduce energy use and enhance health and safety for occupants.

As the city aims for carbon neutrality by 2050, local building energy laws will become more stringent, and fines for buildings that do not meet local energy laws will increase. When it comes to compliance, sustainability consultants are encouraging architects, engineers, and developers to consider building toward the performance pathway. To learn more about energy efficiency measures that can help your building meet local building energy laws, get in touch with an energy expert today at accelerator.nyc/newbuildings.

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