1. What is Local Law 87?
In December 2009, under New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council signed Local Law 87, which requires covered buildings spanning 50,000 square feet or more to audit their energy consumption and conduct retro-commissioning of base building systems (including building envelope, boiler and domestic hot water, ventilation & lighting). It also applies to two or more buildings on the same tax lot or condo board that together exceed 100,000 square feet.
2. What are the due dates for energy efficiency reports filed under LL87?
Property owners are required to file an energy efficiency report between January 1st and December 31st of the calendar year in which the report is due, and thereafter, on every tenth year. The first set of energy audits were due in 2013, for those buildings whose tax block number ends in 3 (For explanation, see item 5).
3. What is an energy audit?
An energy audit is a formal technical assessment of a building’s base systems, which involves improvement and modifications to mechanical systems, optimizing energy performance through energy efficiency technologies, quantifying energy costs and savings and ultimately reporting the findings to the client. The costs and benefits vary by the level (ASHRAE 1, 2 or 3) of the audit.
4. Do 'virtual' energy audits qualify for Local Law 87 compliance?
Virtual audits DO NOT satisfy the requirements necessary for Local Law 87 compliance. To ensure compliance, a minimum of a Level 2 audit is required, which includes multiple site visits to the facility. This is done so that energy consumption data can be collected accurately for detailed analysis of simple & capital-intensive energy conservation measures. Any auditing firm that offers virtual energy audits should be regarded with extreme caution since these types of audits may be liable to fines and violations from the Department of Buildings enforcement unit.
5. How long does Local Law 87 take to complete?
Local Law 87 takes at minimum an average of 8 months before the December 31st deadline to complete. This time is necessary as the building systems must be evaluated in both the heating and cooling seasons.
6. What is Retro-commissioning?
Retro-commissioning involves identifying and correcting deficient building sub-systems and controls in existing buildings. The process identifies drifts from normal performance and fine-tunes those systems, bringing them back to an optimal level of operational efficiency. Retro-commissioning applies the commissioning process to existing buildings and seeks to improve how building equipment and systems function together. Retro-commissioning can often resolve problems that occurred during building design/construction or address problems that have developed during the building’s life.
7. What is the difference between Retro-commissioning & Retrofitting?
Retro-commissioning applies to existing buildings and seeks to improve the functioning of equipment & controls without relying on the need for replacement. It involves measurement & verification (M&V) procedures, functional testing and diagnostic monitoring (for a list of measures performed under Retro-commissioning, see item 18).
Retrofitting is different in that it can apply to new or existing construction and involves upgrading or replacing equipment such as HVAC (boilers, chillers, vents), lighting (LEDs vs. incandescent), caulking & insulating windows & roofs (building envelope), installing variable frequency drives (VFDs) and other energy-efficient measures.
8. When is the best time to start the retro-commissioning process?
Retro-commissioning testing should commence 9 to 12 months prior to the December 31st filling deadline.
9. When should I start the retro-commissioning corrections?
This should be done immediately upon receiving the retro-commissioning testing results. All corrections should be completed at least 3 months prior to the December 31st filling deadline to allow time to complete the retro-commissioning report.
10. What is the difference between an energy audit report and an energy efficiency report (EER)?
An energy audit may result in several recommendations, some that are critical for cost reduction and others that can be implemented at the owners’ discretion, all of which should be documented precisely in the energy efficiency report. Comprehensive energy efficiency reports will include applicable rebates, grants and incentives identified for the measures proposed in energy audits, as well as any equipment upgrades required during retro-commissioning. EERs are the final reports that are filed with the Department of Buildings.
11. What is Commissioning?
Commissioning is an intensive quality assurance process that begins during the design of a new building and continues through construction, occupancy, and operation. Commissioning ensures that the new building operates as the owner initially intended and that building staff are prepared to operate and maintain its systems and equipment.
12. When should I start complying with LL87?
Property owners and managers can determine when they have to energy audit and retro-commission their buildings by looking at the last digit of the building’s tax block number and comparing it to the last digit of the required year. For instance, if the last digit of the building’s tax block is 3, its energy efficiency reports need to be filed in the Year 2013.
Last Digit of Tax Block
13. What are the penalties from non-compliance?
Building owners and managers that are not aware of energy reporting deadlines will face penalties for non-compliance that could well exceed the cost of a Level 2 audit or even face enforcement actions that could land them in court.
14. What is difference between the various ASHRAE Audit levels?
ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers) proposes strict guidelines for energy audits. The costs, benefits and extent of the analysis vary by audit levels.
A Level I audit is a simple walk-through during assessment during which ECMs are identified but no cost analysis is done.
In a Level II audit, all building base systems are examined for breakdown of energy consumption and some cost-saving measures are implemented.
A Level III audit is an investment-grade technical analysis that provides a granular analysis of energy inputs and outputs, using data logging equipment and computer simulation. The effect of ECMs on building conditions are also evaluated using hourly weather data for a full calendar year.
15. What are the requirements for compliance with LL87?
Buildings spanning 50,000 square feet or more are required to conduct ASHRAE Level II energy audits and retro-commissioning of building base systems. Two or more buildings sharing the same tax lot or condo board that together exceed 100,000 square feet are also required to comply with the Law.
16. Can energy audits and retro-commissioning be conducted in-house?
Audits and retro-commissioning should be performed by only those that are qualified under the criteria set forth by the law.
17. What is the permissible timing of the audit?
The energy audit (and retro-commissioning) should be conducted no earlier than four years prior to the date on which the building’s energy efficiency report is filed with the Department of Finance.
18. How frequently do I need to conduct energy audits for properties?
Energy audits need to occur once every ten years on the year determined by the building’s tax block number and will not be due for the next ten years thereafter.
19. What are the exceptions for LL87 compliance?
No energy audit or retro-commissioning is required if: (i) the building has an Energy Star label for at least two of the three years preceding the filing of the report, (ii) there is no Energy Star rating for the building type and a registered design professional submits documentation that the building’s energy performance is 25 or more points better than the average building of its type over a two year period, (iii) the covered building has received certification under the LEED 2009 rating system for existing buildings published by USGBC or other rating system for existing buildings within four years prior to filing the energy report.
20. What are the benefits of early compliance?
Property owners that decide to file energy reports earlier than required see benefits in terms of higher energy savings realized sooner, improvement in occupant comfort, higher resale value of properties, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and avoidance of possible penalties. There is also the added benefit of incentives, rebates and grants associated with early compliance.
21. What are the main benefits of LL87 compliance for property owners?
Retro-commissioned buildings use less energy, incur lower utility bills, have extended equipment life, higher comfort levels and higher occupancy.
22. Will the City mandate that I implement the proposed measures from the audit report?
As of now, properties are not required to implement proposed energy conservation measures from the audit report, leaving implementation to the discretion of the owners. However, the rules for implementation of ECMs will get stricter with time. If investments in some of the proposed energy efficiency measures have a quick payback period, the City may require that those measures be implemented after the audit report has been submitted.
23. What are the 28 Retro-commissioning measures required to be performed at minimum and filed in the Energy Efficiency Report?
1. Operating protocols, calibration, and sequencing:
1.1. HVAC temperature and humidity set points and setbacks are appropriate and operating schedules reflect major space occupancy patterns and the current facility requirements.
1.2. HVAC sensors are properly calibrated.
1.3. HVAC controls are functioning and control sequences are appropriate for the current facility requirements.
1.4. Loads are distributed equally across equipment when appropriate (i.e. fans, boilers, pumps, etc. that run in parallel).
1.5. Ventilation rates are appropriate for the current facility requirements.
1.6. System automatic reset functions are functioning appropriately, if applicable.
1.7. Adjustments have been made to compensate for oversized or undersized equipment so that it is functioning as efficiently as possible.
1.8. Simultaneous heating and cooling does not occur unless intended.
1.9. HVAC system economizer controls are properly functioning, if applicable.
1.10. The HVAC distribution systems, both air and water side, are balanced.
1.11. Light levels are appropriate to the task.
1.12. Lighting sensors and controls are functioning properly according to occupancy, schedule, and/or available daylight, where applicable.
1.13. Domestic hot water systems have been checked to ensure proper temperature settings.
1.14. Water pumps are functioning as designed.
1.15. System water leaks have been identified and repaired.
2. Cleaning and repair:
2.1. HVAC equipment (vents, ducts, coils, valves, soot bin, etc.) is clean.
2.2. Filters are clean and protocols are in place to replace, as appropriate.
2.3. Light fixtures are clean.
2.4. Motors, fans, and pumps, including components such as belts, pulleys, and bearings, are in good operating condition.
2.5. Steam traps have been replaced as required to maintain efficient operation, if applicable.
2.6. Manual overrides on existing equipment have been remediated.
2.7. Boilers have been tuned for optimal efficiency, if applicable.
2.8. Exposed hot and chilled water and steam pipes three (3) inches or greater in diameter with associated control valves are insulated in accordance with the standards of the New York city energy conservation code as in effect for new systems installed on or after July 1, 2010.
2.9 In all easily accessible locations, sealants and weather stripping are installed where appropriate and are in good condition.
3. Training and documentation:
3.1. Permits for all HVAC, electrical and plumbing equipment are in order.
3.2. Critical operations and maintenance staff have received appropriate training, which may include labor/management training, on all major equipment and systems and general energy conservation techniques.
3.3. Operational and maintenance record keeping procedures (log books, computer maintenance records, etc.) have been implemented.
3.4. The following documentation is on site and accessible to the operators: the operations and maintenance manuals, if such manuals are still available from the manufacturer, the maintenance contracts, and the most recent retro-commissioning report.
24. Do I have to conduct an energy audit of my building if it has an EPA Energy Star Label?
An energy audit is not required for a building if it has received an Energy Star Label for at least two of the three years before the filing of the building’s energy efficiency report. A retro-commissioning report would still need to be completed.
25. Do I have to conduct an energy audit of my building if it has received a LEED-certification?
An energy audit is not required for a building if it has received certification under the LEED 2009 rating system for Existing Buildings published by the USGBC (U.S Green building Council) or other rating system for existing buildings, as determined by the NYC Department of Buildings, within four years prior to the filing of the building’s energy efficiency report.
26. Do I have to conduct a retro-commissioning study if my building has received a LEED-certification?
No retro-commissioning report is required if the building has earned the LEED certification for Existing Building Commissioning investigation and analysis and the LEED certification for Existing Building Commissioning implementation. The NYC Department of Buildings view LEED buildings as ones that save energy and resources.
27. I received notification from the Department of Finance that I must comply with LL87, but my building is less than 50,000 square feet.
If your building is on the list of covered buildings, and you believe it is inaccurate, please contact the NYC Department of Finance (DOF) to dispute building square footage or the number of buildings on a tax lot directly.
28. If a building is less than 10 years old, is it automatically exempt from both the energy audit and the retro-commissioning?
Buildings that are less than ten years old should not automatically defer submitting an Energy Efficiency Report. For the building to defer the submittal of an EER until the next reporting date, all of its base building systems must be in compliance with the New York City energy conservation code as in effect for new buildings constructed on or after July 1, 2010. This will only apply to the building’s first Energy Efficiency Report (EER) if it is a new building.
29. If a building has multiple tenants and all of those tenants have triple net lease agreements, is the building owner required to submit an EER?
If the building lessees do not have lease agreements for a term of 49 years or more (in which case they assume the responsibility for reporting), the owner of the building is still required to submit an Energy Efficiency Report (EER) that addresses the remaining base building systems after deduction of those that are owned by, or for which a tenant bears full maintenance responsibility, and that is within the tenant's leased space and/or exclusively serves such leased space.
30. What are the filing fees for LL87?
The fees for submitting Energy Efficiency Reports (EERs) are as follows:
Initial filing - $375
Extension Request - $155
Amendments - $145
31. For Simple Buildings, if a building cannot satisfy one of the seven, how many of the remaining 6 have to be satisfied?
Six of the items listed must be satisfied. If a building does not have washing machines, or they are unable to have a cool roof, that does not satisfy those requirements.
32. If a building has unoccupied tenant spaces, where normally the tenant owns and bears full responsibility for the operation and maintenance of those systems, must the building owner include those systems in their building audit/retro-commissioning along with the systems for which the owner has responsibility?
No. Equipment within tenant spaces that is normally owned and maintained by a tenant when the space is rented, would not need to be included in the owner’s audit/retro-commissioning.
33. What is required from the retro-commissioning agent to satisfy the item “critical operations and maintenance staff have received appropriate training, which may include labor/management training, on all major equipment and systems and general energy conservation techniques.”?
The aim of this is meant to increase assurance that the base building systems are operated efficiently. If people receive training on how to operate a piece of equipment, they will operate that equipment in a manner that drives more efficiency than if they do not receive training. The retro-commissioning agent should inquire with the building staff whether they were trained to operate the equipment for which they have responsibility and they should document the level of training that the staff has received. If the retro-commissioning agent feels the level of training is insufficient, the retro-commissioning agent will note that in their report, and recommend to the owner that the operator receive training. Each situation will vary depending on the complexity of the equipment involved. For some, reading the operations manual for a piece of equipment, or on the job training may be all that is needed. For others, it will be much more comprehensive.
34. Do steam systems have to be balanced?
Per the rule, a steam system would fall under a major system, and would require balancing, if the system as a whole serves more than 10,000 square feet. Noting the ubiquitous difficulties regarding balancing steam systems, and the lack of a generally accepted procedure or guideline that may be referenced at this time, steam systems are deemed balanced when the retro-commissioning agent has documented that the system is operating in accordance with current facility requirements, when the retro-commissioning agent has, at a minimum, checked the near boiler piping and Hartford loop, inspected the master venting, inspected a representative sample of air vents at the terminal units and replaced those that are malfunctioning, and assessed even heating conditions, when conditions have been noted in the report, and it has been documented in the report that in the judgment of the retro-commissioning agent, additional repairs and/or testing, adjusting, and balancing would not result in a level of sufficient increased performance that could be achieved cost effectively. Further, the retro-commissioning agent has documented in the report, the recommendation for conditions warranting further attention to be addressed in an energy audit as an energy efficiency measure.