Climate Advocates to Mayor Adams:
No Urgency or Transparency on Local Law 97
The Climate Works for All coalition is calling for no delays in compliance, strong tenant protections, no to carbon capture technology, support for affordable housing, and strict limits on Renewable Energy Credits.
NEW YORK, NY (September 12, 2023) – Climate Works for All (CW4A), a coalition of over 25 local labor, faith, environmental, and climate justice groups, is calling for stronger and more equitable Local Law 97 of 2019 (LL97) rules and implementation that does not offer compliance loopholes by pushing back effective compliance dates by two years. That includes providing more tenant protections, support for residential buildings, no to carbon capture technology. The statement comes after the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) released the second set of rules and regulations on Tuesday, September 12:
As we close the summer of choking wildfire smoke, unprecedented and powerful storms, and record-breaking, extreme temperatures, Mayor Adams and DOB have elected to push the implementation of the law by two years, effectively surpassing the urgency of the climate crisis. The proposed rules fail in providing the much needed guidance, outreach, and education on implementation of LL97, which requires building owners to meet emissions reduction targets by optimizing energy systems to make buildings more efficient by the legally mandated deadline. CW4A demands that the Adams Administration and DOB amend the proposed rule to ensure that compliance is achieved beginning in 2024,and that the City provide more programs and services for building owners and tenants to understand implementation of LL97–both the pathways to compliance and all of its implications. We need swift action from the City to extend more training and workforce development opportunities, prioritizing the communities who have historically suffered the most from air pollution.
While we are relieved to see DOB make necessary progress with the release of these rules, we have strong concerns about the overall rollout of LL97 implementation and guidance that we look forward to addressing in greater detail during the 30-day public comment period following the release.
The coalition calls for an equitable implementation of LL97 that prioritizes health benefits, investments, and job creation and development in the communities who have historically suffered from air pollution, including the following:
- Limit Use of Renewable Energy Credits: As per language in Local Law 77 of 2023, DOB, in consultation with the mayor’s office of long term planning and sustainability, is required to promulgate rules on RECs. According to the ‘Getting LL97 Done’ report released by the Mayor’s office, the City is incentivizing the purchase of RECs as a compliance pathway which will cause the proliferation of GHG emissions without ensuring retrofits. We refuse the assumption that the ‘likely course’ of action in compliance with LL97 is penalties as opposed to the reduction of local GHG emissions.CW4A fought to codify the language in LL77 and we call on DOB to release additional rules to limit the use of RECs beyond language on “good faith efforts.”
- Funding incentives and support for residential buildings: The City needs to provide robust financing tools and funding while supplementing the ones that already exist for building owners, especially smaller, independent, and affordable housing property owners, without heavily relying on federal funding programs that are not sustainable nor guaranteed.
- Tenant protections: While the proposed rules acknowledge that compliance strategies should not displace tenants, CW4A urges the administration to go further by, including in the rules, that costs of retrofits are not passed down to tenants.
- Job creation and workforce development: Allowing a delay in compliance would disincentivize retrofits, which in turn prevents the projected 141,000 jobs in the growing green jobs industry that LL97 promises. The City must invest in successful high-quality, career-track employment and union-linked pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, and certification training programs.
- False Solutions: Systems such as carbon capturing technology must not be permitted as a compliance mechanism for LL97 as these systems do nothing to further energy-efficiency and cut down on the promised good green jobs made possible by building-wide retrofits.
- Establish a Green Affordable Housing Fund: Create a fund for building owners to pay into that would deliver approved and additional efficiency and electrification upgrades in affordable housing and prioritize EJ communities.
- Good Faith Efforts: While the process of Good Faith Efforts has been clearly defined and outlined with promising compliance requirements, CW4A is extremely concerned with delay outlined in the proposed rules essentially allowing building owners to push back retrofitting and the start of their compliance to 2026.
- Public awareness and education: The City must expand education and outreach services and programs across all sectors to ensure building owners are engaged to be made aware of the law, their compliance obligations, as well as all the resources available to them such as NYC Accelerator and other funding opportunities.
This set of proposed rules and subsequent ones relating to the implementation of LL97 must meet the law’s objective to effectively decarbonize buildings without offering major alternative compliance pathways if NYC is to meet its carbon emissions reduction goals. The implementation of LL97 must move forward in a fair, equitable way to advance NYC’s climate and economic recovery goals to curb emissions, address environmental injustices, and create good green jobs.
“We demand a successful implementation of Local Law 97 that would provide the city with an incredible opportunity to create thousands of local good green jobs and move us significantly towards meeting our climate goals, while directly investing in the reduction of harmful localized pollution levels in environmental justice communities. RECs, carbon capture technology and other loopholes cannot continue to be a distraction from the direct emission reductions and climate investments that our communities need,” said Shravanthi Kanekal, Resiliency Planner, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.
“Local Law 97 has the potential to be the City’s most powerful tool to lower dirty emissions from buildings and create green union jobs for New Yorkers most affected by the climate crisis. But we have to do it right. Strict caps on renewable energy credit, strong tenant protections, and eliminating carbon capture technology is key to ensuring that New York City is leading on transitioning to a clean, healthy, green energy economy. We’re calling on Mayor Adams to stand with us to ensure that Local Law 97 gives workers, tenants, and our communities the climate protections we need,” said Lucas Shapiro, Interim Executive Director, ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York.
“New York City has the potential to significantly advance the fight against climate change. It’s critical that the regulations on Local Law 97 be fully enforced and properly upheld to ensure the sustainability and viability of our city for all who live and work here. By investing in energy-efficient upgrades, we can create good-paying green union jobs, advance the resiliency of our communities, and strengthen the neighborhoods hit hardest by climate crises. We must act now!,” said Henry A. Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37.
“UHAB strongly urges Mayor Adams to implement LL97 in a way that strengthens access to decarbonization efforts for affordable housing. We acknowledge that the City and utilities have created incentive programs to move buildings away from fossil fuels, however we advocate that more accessible funding be available to affordable multifamily buildings and straightforward guidance be set forth so that they can more easily access upgrades that would help the city meet its decarbonization goals. We also call for a strict cap on the use and availability of RECs for building owners, to ensure that LL97 remains focused on driving on-site improvements in buildings, reducing local air pollution, generating thousands of local jobs and making our homes and workplaces healthier and more comfortable. In the meantime, we urge that the funds created by RECs be invested in accessible programs for affordable housing that allow low-income building owners to incorporate the energy conservation measures required by the law and maintain safe, healthy and sustainable housing,” said Lucia Santacruz and Caleb Weil, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB).
“District Council 9 stands in support of Local Law 97 and the emissions reduction goals it aims to achieve. For it to be effective, it is critical that Mayor Adams and the NYC Department of Buildings utilize strong rules and guidelines for its implementation that include measures to create good union jobs in the green economy,” said Joseph Azzopardi, Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer of District Council 9. “Local Law 97 holds the potential to create hundreds of thousands of good-paying green union jobs right here in New York City and make our communities healthier and more sustainable for all. It is time we become leaders in the transition to a green economy and help the members of our community that need it most by enacting rules to equitably implement LL97.”
“We advocate for the equitable implementation of LL97, one that prioritizes the health of our communities, investments in sustainability, and the creation of good green union jobs. We call upon the City to expand public awareness and education, limit the use of Renewable Energy Credits, provide robust funding incentives for residential buildings, and invest in green job creation. We reject false solutions such as carbon capture and sequestration technologies that do not contribute to emissions reductions and stand for clear, equitable definitions of good faith efforts. For New York City to achieve its carbon emissions reduction goals, LL97 must move forward as a fair, equitable pathway to a sustainable and environmentally just future, balancing the needs of building owners to retrofit with the urgency of safeguarding everyday New Yorkers and prioritizing a just economic transition,” said Rami Dinnawi, Environmental Justice Campaign & Policy Manager, El Puente
“WE ACT for Environmental Justice commends the New York City Department of Buildings for proposing these rules, which are an important step towards implementing this law. However, we are wary of real estate loopholes included in the proposed rules that will weaken critical enforcement mechanisms written into the law and undermine potential benefits to low-income communities and communities of color. Without Local Law 97, our buildings will continue to be the leading local driver of the climate crisis, while poisoning the health of our children, families, and communities at large. It is vital that the Adams administration implement strong rules for Local Law 97 that directly reduce building pollution across the city,” said Lonnie J. Portis, New York City Policy & Advocacy Manager, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
Kyra Armstrong, EJ Staff Attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest offered, “With LL97 enforcement soon taking effect, many unanswered questions regarding implementation of the law remain and New Yorkers are confused and frustrated. NYLPI is thrilled to see further regulations published by the Department of Buildings (DOB), however, there’s still a litany of unfinished work that warrants immediate attention. For instance, DOB’s lack of transparency, coupled with a slow-paced roll-out of implementation guidelines, leave many New York City residents without the necessary information including resources such as financial assistance and associated incentives that put them in the best position for compliance.” Armstrong added, “Prioritization of protecting tenants, ensuring affordable housing residents benefit from LL97 emission reductions, and strong workforce creation and development is still absent from the overall implantation process. DOB must also prevent the use and proliferation of false compliance mechanisms such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage, while also ensuring disadvantaged and other EJ communities are centered and prioritized. Furthermore, DOB must not allow LL 97 to be adulterated via loopholes that benefit real estate corporations at the expense of the people disproportionately impacted by the clear and present climate crisis. NYLPI will continue to press the Adams administration to foster an equitable and expeditious approach in implementation of our nation’s most aggressive municipal-level climate law.”
“Our organization, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, is dedicated to providing affordable housing to low-income communities in the South Bronx. As a part of our mission, we advocate for sustainable development. The South Bronx is heavily impacted by air pollution and other environmental health risks, and it’s essential that affordable housing owners have access to resources that support their ability to decarbonize their portfolio in efforts to improve the quality of life for all. Unfortunately, the current administration and DOB have not provided adequate guidance and transparency on the implementation of LL97, despite the upcoming compliance deadline of January 1st, 2024. We are concerned about the impact this will have on our community and urge for a more inclusive approach that includes outreach, education, accessible funding, and incentive programs to help nonprofit owners retrofit their buildings without adding financial burdens.To prevent harmful loopholes, we also recommend stricter limitations on the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and clear definitions of ‘good faith efforts’ at compliance. It’s crucial that the most impacted communities are included in the implementation of LL97 for a more sustainable and equitable future,” said Jessica Clemente and Basil Alsubee, We Stay/Nos Quedamos.
“Urgency and transparency are the cornerstones of meaningful change. As we navigate the climate crisis challenges, implementing Local Law 97 becomes a pivotal moment. Mayor Adams and the DOB must lead and prioritize tenant protection, equitable investment, and job creation within our communities. Let’s ensure that LL97 remains resolute in driving on-site improvements, reducing pollution, and delivering green jobs while rejecting false solutions like carbon capture. Together, we can shape a future where buildings stand as beacons of sustainability, health, and justice.” said Daphany Rose Sanchez of Kinetic Communities Consulting.
“For 30 years the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA) has implemented solutions to advance equitable building decarbonization. The New York State and New York City nation leading climate laws provide pathways and compliance mechanisms to transform New York’s buildings to clean, healthy, and safe environments for all New Yorkers while creating good jobs in the growing clean energy economy. AEA appreciates the Dept. of Buildings diligence in rulemaking. To ensure full equitable compliance, we advocate for: limiting Energy Credits (RECs) as a compliance mechanism, creation of an Green Affordable Buildings Fund as an alternative mechanism, a minimal definition of good faith effort to comply, clarification of environmental justice compliance, inclusion of tenant protections, and clarification of the 321-compliance path. AEA continues to develop technological solutions and advocate for funding and financing necessary for LL97 compliance.” said Martha Sickles of the Association for Energy Affordability.
The Climate Works for All coalition is a group of labor, community, faith, environmental justice, and climate organizations that have come together to fight climate change and inequality in NYC by demanding a Just Transition for workers and Environmental Justice communities. Our campaigns move us towards an equitable economy, a resilient, livable and healthy climate, and must prioritize justice for low income Black and Brown communities across New York City.
Climate Works for All Membership in alphabetical order includes 350 Brooklyn, 350 NYC, AFSCME DC 37, ALIGN, El Puente, GOLES, IBEW Local 3, Jewish Climate Action Network NYC, People’s Climate Movement NY, Professional Staff Congress CUNY, THE POINT CDC, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, New York State Nurses Association, Nos Quedamos, Sierra Club NYC, TreeAGE, UPROSE, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.