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Don’t Blow Your Cap: Building Emissions Adjustment Deadline

Apply for altered 2024-2029 greenhouse gas emissions limits on your large building before July 2021.

It’s almost energy benchmarking time for New York City buildings. But there’s another emissions-related deadline that some building owners should keep in mind: the deadline to apply for an adjustment on your greenhouse gas emissions cap for 2024-2029.

In accordance with Local Law 97 of 2019, part of the NYC Climate Mobilization Act, all buildings larger than 25,000 square feet (which, according to Urban Green, will affect the most carbon-intensive 20% of NYC buildings) must lower their emissions to the new occupancy-based caps by 2024.

But the law recognizes that certain types of buildings will need to exceed those caps, at least temporarily, in order to function.

With the deadlines to apply closing in within a few months, the DOB has announced a limited window starting April 12, 2021 for some owners to prove their buildings need a cap adjustment, along with long-awaited eligibility guidelines. So, owners who think they need this adjustment to avoid fines for noncompliance should act now.

Here’s what you need to know.


There are two different types of cap adjustments currently available for 2024-2029:

  • Adjustment for Excessive Emissions Due to Special Circumstances (due by June 30, 2021), and
  • Adjustment for Not-for-profit hospital and healthcare facilities (due by July 21, 2021).

For Excessive Emissions Due to Special Circumstances:

Special circumstances that qualify for adjustment include, but are not limited to:

  • Buildings that operate 24 hours;
  • Operations critical to human health and safety;
  • High density occupancies;
  • Energy-intensive communications technologies or operations;
  • Energy-intensive industrial processes typically classified as an un-regulated load under the Energy Code.

However, this will not count if the building’s certificate of occupancy has been amended since December 31, 2018.

In addition to proving that at least one of these special circumstances applies, applicants must prove that the covered building has:

  1. 2018 emissions levels that exceed the planned 2024 emissions limit by more than 40%,
  2. Identical energy performance to a similar building that is in compliance with the 2014 New York City Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC), and
  3. A plan going forward to reduce the actual building emissions to be ready to comply with the 2030 emissions limits.

For Not-for-Profit Healthcare:

The other focus of the adjustments is on not-for-profit hospital and healthcare facilities, which can be extended to both 2024 and 2030 emissions limits.

To qualify, the facility must have existed as a not-for-profit healthcare facility by November 15, 2019 (the date of the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act), and must maintain that status each year an emissions adjustment is sought.

How to Apply

The Building Emissions Adjustments application must be submitted in DOB NOW: Safety, where it will be assigned an Adjustment Request Number. This must be used to label all related forms and supporting documents, including the required EN97A Energy Analysis Workbook and Energy Analysis Report (for more guidelines on qualifications and how to apply, see the Filing Guide.)

It should be noted that the Excessive Emissions application fee is set at $2,450, while Not-for-Profit Healthcare applications are $335. But considering that the maximum annual penalty for going over the cap is the spillover amount multiplied by $268, it might be worth the investment to avoid problems down the road.

It’s important for New York City’s largest buildings to do their part to help lower emissions and improve the quality of their buildings to help the city and greater world. But change can’t always happen all at once, and these adjustments can help ease the transition on high-performing buildings.

Take the opportunity to see if this might be a good solution for your building today. If you need assistance assessing if your building qualifies, or you have any other code concerns, please reach out to the experts at Outsource Consultants.