New York City Building Energy Efficiency Rating Labels – What to Expect?

Ece Ersoz

Reporting a building’s energy and water consumption is nothing new for New York City (NYC) landlords. Since 2009, Local Law: 84 Benchmarking has mandated annual reporting on building energy and water consumption. But this year there’s a twist: starting in October 2020, the NYC buildings will receive a letter grade based on their energy efficiency – and be required to post the grades in a “conspicuous location” for the public to see. This is known as Local Law 33 of 2018 and/or Local Law 95 of 2019.

What does this mean?
Very similar to the restaurant health inspection grades, buildings in NYC larger than 25,000 sqft will start posting their energy efficiency grades A-F this October. [We discussed the details of the law in our previous blog: What Building Owners Should Know About the New NYC Sustainability Laws]

Why is this important?
One by one, we will witness the letter grades going up at each building’s entrance. The intent is to provide the building tenants – and the public at large – with an easy way to see how efficiently that building is being operated. However, there are still many unknowns around the requirements of these labels.

What do I post?
Building owners will post their Building Energy Efficiency Rating Labels. The buildings will receive a “rating” based on their Local Law 84: Benchmarking submission. Each eligible building gets an Energy Star Rating as part of filling out the utility and space inputs data on EPA’s Portfolio Manager.

What will my label display?
Based on the preliminary design of labels that was published in a New York Times article, each label will display a building’s Energy Star rating along with the corresponding energy efficiency grade. The labels will also include historical grades and ratings.

When do I post?
The labels will be available for posting on October 1st of each year; owners will have 30 days to put up their labels. The labels must be displayed all year long and replaced each year with the latest issued version.

Where do I find my label?
Building owners will be able to find their labels on the DOB NOW Public Portal website. The DOB states that the labels will not be mailed. Instead, building owners have to access the portal to download and print labels for each building they manage. When the website is updated, there will be a new tab for “building efficiency scores”. There, the labels can be found by entering a building’s borough-block-lot (BBL) number.

How should I print my label?
To print the label whether in color or in grayscale is up to the landlords, however, printing in color is highly recommended. Framing and/or laminating is also discretionary, but all information listed on the label must be clearly visible for the whole year. In terms of scale, a label printed on a 8½” x 11” paper is acceptable.

Where do I post my label?
The label should be displayed internally or externally at a “conspicuous location” near each public entrance of a building, and must be visible to the public. The label must be at a vertical height from the ground of no less than four (4) feet and no more than six (6) feet from the ground or floor.

What is the penalty for not displaying?
Buildings that fail to display their labels will be subject to a DOB violation and a fine of $1,250.

What if my rating is an “N”?
Upon the submission of benchmarking, buildings that are not eligible for an Energy Star score receive an “N/A” and the corresponding grade for that is an “N”. If your property has an “N”, you are not subject to the posting requirement.

Boosting Your Building’s Energy Grade
All is not lost if your property receives an unwelcome grade! By implementing energy saving measures at your properties and reviewing the space inputs on EPA’s Portfolio Manager, a building’s Energy Star rating can increase and lead to a better building energy efficiency label. Even though the labels cannot be replaced during a year, every October the landlords will have the chance to put up the new labels with hopefully better grades.

Conclusion
With the labels decorating the building entrances this October, it will be the beginning of a new era in NYC from the energy efficiency standpoint. It is expected that it will lead to an increase in investments on energy efficiency projects and result in reducing the City’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. However, how the general public eye will perceive the labels is still unknown.

For More Information
David Energy will continue to monitor the Efficiency Grade rollout and provide updates as the rollout begins; contact us at info@davidenergy.com for more information on how your building can potentially improve its grade.

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