Why You should be Proactive with Complying with Local Law 87

As part of the Greater, Greener Building Plan, Local Law 87 goes into effect next year. The law requires buildings over 50,000 square feet in New York City to file Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning Reports with the city every ten years, based on the building’s tax lot number. Some buildings will have to comply next year and others will have until 2022 until they first have to file. However, the sooner a building complies with the law the better.

If your building’s Energy Audit & Retrocommissioning Reports are due next year, you should start working on them soon. Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning projects can be time consuming. Depending on the size of the building and the systems in place, an Energy Audit could take upwards of 3 months depending what building documentation exists. A thorough Retrocommissioning project can also take between 6 months and 1 year.

If you are one of the lucky buildings who don’t have to file for another ten years, you should still consider acting soon. According to the PlaNY website:

An energy efficiency report, including both an energy audit report and a retro-commissioning report, can be submitted between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2013, in order to achieve early compliance. In such cases, the next required report for the building would be due in the tenth calendar year after the first assigned due date for the report; for example if the due date would have been 2015, satisfying the early compliance would make the due date 2025.

This means that, potentially, you don’t have to worry about compliance for 19 years after filing your initial report, if your tax lot ends in “2”. Furthermore, the requirements of the law could change and become more strict over time.

Additionally, there is currently funding for 50% of the cost a ASHRAE Level III Energy Audit (which would exceed the Energy Audit requirements of the Local Law 87) from Con Edison. This funding has a will expire, so using it to comply with Local Law 87 as early as possible will cost you less money upfront. There are numerous other funding opportunities for implementing the recommendations that come out of an energy audit. Performing the audit now will help you secure funding for upgrades that otherwise might have expired, or allow you a longer time period to budget before making updates.

There is a direct benefit to the owner or manager for the building to comply with the law as well. An Energy Audit will provide you with valuable information on where energy can be conserved in your building. By implementing the recommendations from the audit, you will be able to economically reduce your buildings energy consumption and improve your bottom line. Retrocommissioning ensures that your existing building systems are operating as efficiently as possible, leading to energy conservation and improved occupant comfort. The sooner the Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning Reports are completed, the sooner you can start reducing your building’s energy use.

Don’t forget Local Law 84 went into effect in New York in 2010, requiring the same group of buildings to be benchmarked by filing their annual energy use with the City by May 1st each year for the previous year. Buildings out of compliance will be charged $500 per quarter. To avoid future fines, a building should submit their benchmark report to the city as soon as possible.

For more information on complying with Local Laws 84 and 87, please contact us at 866-382-8628 or info@rcxbd.com.

Deadline for LL84 submittals has passed! Avoid $2000 in fines by acting today.

PlaNYC, introduced to the public on Earth Day in 2007, has established some laws that building owners and property or facility managers in NYC need to be aware of.

LL84 requires annual benchmarking for energy and water for buildings, and the data must be submitted to the City EACH YEAR by May 1st.

Fines are being issued already for non-compliance with LL84! Building owners are to be fined $500 per quarter of non-compliance, beginning May 1.

Have you received this letter?       http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/downloads/pdf/2010_noncomply_violation.pdf

Gather your data and submit as soon as possible to avoid continued fines!  RCx is one of the Energy Efficiency service providers that can help- and we now have an easy to use online form: www.rcxbd.com/request

Also to keep on the radar, LL87 comes into play in 2013.  This law requires the same list of buildings (see www.nyc.gov/ggbp) to have energy audits or retrocommissioning done by certified providers. The deadline year that each of those buildings is assigned to comply is organized by tax lot numbers. This law affects buildings every 10 years, however, having retrocommissioning or energy audits done can be a time consuming process. Also, there are some significant advantages to early compliance!  There is also funding available NOW for building owners to have ASHRAE Level III Energy Audits (comply with LL87) to pay for half of the cost of the audit!  There is also funding to help with any first costs when making any energy efficiency improvements.

For more updates on PlaNYC 2030 and the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, Mayor Bloomberg made an address on Earth Day 2012:

The Difference between Energy Audits & Retrocommissioning

Many property managers have been struggling to reduce operating costs by improving the energy efficiency in their buildings.  For many owners and operators, an Energy Audit or Retrocommissioning project is the perfect starting point. However, it can be difficult to understand the difference between the two processes, and to determine the best option for your building.

An Energy Audit is meant to inform a building manager how well a building is performing from an energy consumption standpoint.  The audit report includes a list of energy-saving measures one may choose to implement, including the payback and annual energy savings associated with each measure. An energy auditor will examine at least one year of energy bills to understand how the building consumes energy throughout the various seasons. Then they will use that data to benchmark the building’s energy use as compared to similar buildings in the area.

The auditor will also analyze all of the building systems in place and their operating schedules, breaking down the building’s total energy consumption by use (i.e. lighting, heating/cooling, outlet plug loads, etc). The scope of an Energy Audit can also be expanded to include a review of water use, if a building manager is interested in reducing water consumption.

The final product of an Energy Audit is a report explaining how the building is currently performing and providing a list of no cost, low-cost, and capital-cost energy conservation opportunities.  Building owners that want to understand and reduce their energy consumption should invest in an Energy Audit.

The Retrocommissioning process systematically analyzes and fine-tunes an existing building’s individual systems as well as all operation and maintenance (O&M) procedures. Unlike an Energy Audit, energy reduction is not the sole goal of Retrocommissioning. The precise goals of a Retrocommissioning project can vary between projects, but can include any combination of the following: extending the life of equipment, improving comfort of a building for its occupants, improving indoor air quality, improving the effectiveness of operation and maintenance procedures (thus reducing a facility manager’s time spent on unplanned maintenance), reducing utility bills, reducing energy consumption, and reducing the number of complaints from building occupants.

The outcome of Retrocommissioning is a more comfortable and efficient building and a guide for operating and maintaining it. Candidates for Retrocommissioning include: buildings where the occupancy and use has changed since the building was constructed, buildings that have occupant comfort issues, and buildings that need to reduce energy consumption.

Both an Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning will lower a building’s operating cost and improve a property’s value. Before taking on any building performance improvement project, it is vital for a building owner or operator to outline the goals s/he hopes to achieve in order to choose the best course of action for building improvement.

The Greenest Building is the One that's Already Built

In talking with building owners and operators at trade-shows, I have found that many people feel as though their existing buildings are too old to become energy efficient and sustainable. They feel as though buildings built in the 70’s, 80’s, or even in the 90’s are too outdated to become energy efficient.  In reality, buildings that are twenty, thirty, or even older have great potential for becoming green buildings. Existing buildings will not reduce their energy use on their own. People need to investigate the buildings and identify where energy is being wasted or used inefficiently. There are numerous energy saving opportunities within existing buildings, that if implemented could yield significant savings.

The Empire State Building is a great example of an older building lowering their energy use and becoming more sustainable. The building underwent a $20 million dollar retrofit over the past two years to lower its energy use. The project included upgrading the building’s windows, installing reflective barriers behind radiators, reducing plug loads, reducing lighting loads, replacing constant air handling units with variable air volume units, switching to demand controlled ventilation, and retrofitting the chiller plant. This may seem like an enormous amount of capital and you might assume that the payback on the retrofit can not justify the high upfront cost. However, prior to the retrofit, the annual cost of energy for the Empire State Building was $11.5 million dollars. The retrofit is expected to reduce the buildings energy consumption by 38%, resulting in an annual savings of $4.4 million dollars. Putting the $20 million investment into perspective shows how financially attractive this project was. For more information on the Empire State Building retrofit project visit www.esbsustainability.com.

Before deciding that a new building is needed to reduce energy consumption, evaluate your existing building to see if it can be transformed into a green building. Think about how much more it would cost to rebuild, rather than retrofit, the Empire State Building. From this perspective, $20 million dollars for a green building could be considered a deal!

Many people consider it to be more green to retrofit and reuse an existing building rather than to build from the ground up. Retrofitting avoids both the demolition of the existing building and the construction of the new one. Even if efforts were made to recycle as much of the existing building material as possible, there would still most likely be a large amount of waste  that would end up in a landfill. Consider just how much material would have to be  manufactured and shipped to the site to build a new building. Reusing a building not only saves a tremendous amount of money, but energy and material as well and is the more environmentally friendly option in the long run.

What is the difference between an Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning?


Energy Audits are very similar to Retrocommissioning and there is significant overlap between the two services.  Retrocommissioning focuses on the existing building systems and tweaking them to operate as efficiently as possible.  Energy Audits analyze the building energy consumption history and identifies both no cost and capital improvements which can be implemented.  The main difference between the two processes is that the final product of Retrocommissioning is a more efficient building and the final product of an Energy Audit is a report that includes a set of recommendations which will lead to a more efficient building along with a set of ROIs for each of the improvements.

How long does it take to have a building Retrocommissioned?


The length of a Retrocommissioning project can vary greatly depending on the scope of the project and the documents available on the building operation and building systems, from 1 month to 1 year.  However, you will not have to wait for the project to be over to start reducing your energy consumption.  Since the system is being tweaked to reduce energy use from the beginning of the Retrocommissioning process, energy savings start as soon as the project does.

My company has already had to cut back operating costs and staff significantly and can’t afford to fund unnecessary projects. How will I be able to afford building upgrades?

Many of our recommendations have a return on investment (ROI) of less than 1 year.  With short payback periods, you will have money back in your pocket which you can reinvest into additional building upgrades, or reallocate into other areas.  According to the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), energy represents the single largest controllable operating expense for office buildings, typically a third of variable expenses.  RCx Building Diagnostics can help you to take control of your energy use and save money.

How much money can I save on my energy bills?

In the U.S., office buildings spend an average of $1.65/square foot on energy each year.  It is estimated that up to 30% of the energy used in office buildings is wasted.  This means that for a typical 30,000 square foot office building, nearly $15,000 is spent annually on energy that is wasted!  Energy Audits and Retrocommissioning can identify and eliminate where your building is wasting energy, so you can stop spending money on energy you are not utilizing.  (Source: Energy Information Administration)

My building is not that old. Isn’t it already efficient?

Having a new building does not guarantee that it is energy efficient.  Many new buildings are not operated as they were designed to be or were not designed with energy efficiency in mind.  New buildings can have great potential for energy consumption savings, especially if they were never commissioned.