WE ACT for Environmental Justice Issues Statement in Response to Proposed Changes to New York City’s Local Law 97 Implementation

Pleased with the Intent, But Concerned About Lack of Details and Enforcement



September 22, 2023
Contact: Chris Dobens, chris@weact.org, 718-679-8542


NEW YORK – In response to the New York City Department of Buildings proposing a new set of rules for the implementation of Local Law 97 of 2019, WE ACT for Environmental Justice released the following statement:

“After a long wait, WE ACT for Environmental Justice is pleased to see the City making progress with the release of an updated set of rules for Local Law 97, which – if enforced properly – will help New Yorkers move towards a more equitable and sustainable future. WE ACT for Environmental Justice recognizes the complexity of achieving the goals of Local Law 97, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 40 percent by 2030 and by 80 percent by 2050. This is critical because nearly 70 percent of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are driving the climate crisis, come from buildings burning fossil fuels. And we are encouraged that the city is taking steps to clarify implementation and find funding pathways for buildings in need, especially those providing affordable housing. However, the rules need strict guardrails and enforcement strategies to ensure local emissions reductions are successful and timely.

“We are glad to see the City’s acknowledgment that a building’s compliance strategy should not displace tenants. We are also glad that the City is incentivizing buildings to electrify ahead of deadlines, and that there are specific considerations for affordable housing in the rules proposal.

“However, WE ACT remains concerned that the Good Faith Effort outlined in the new set of proposed rules is too broad and lacks adequate enforcement plans. We are also concerned that many buildings will choose this pathway instead of hitting the 2030 target, and the City does not currently have adequate budget or staffing to hold these buildings accountable. Additionally, while we are glad renewable energy credits (RECs) are not allowed for buildings in the Good Faith Effort pathway, they must also be restricted for all other buildings, particularly buildings in environmental justice communities which are already overburdened with poor indoor and outdoor air quality from buildings burning fossil fuels.

“After a summer of record-smashing and deadly heat, the City must be focusing on enforcing emissions limits and implementing Local Law 97 in a timely manner, ensuring desperately needed upgrades that both mitigate climate change and improve public health.

“WE ACT calls on Mayor Eric Adams to show that the City can adequately enforce the law to help facilitate Local Law 97 implementation, and to mitigate the delayed timelines currently outlined. This can be done by increasing funding for necessary agencies like the Department of Buildings’ Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance (OBEEP) and the NYC Accelerator. Compliance exemptions should only be made for buildings and affordable housing residents who need it most, not for buildings that want to delay implementation. WE ACT also urges the City to strengthen tenant and anti-displacement protections in the rules, to prevent green gentrification and protect the New Yorkers who have done the least to cause the climate crisis.

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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