June 04, 2018

Local Law 33: Preparing for 2020’s Energy Grade with Yesterday’s ENERGY STAR Score?

Building owners and managers in NYC are scrambling to prepare for the new energy efficiency letter grades – but ENERGY STAR, the scoring metric used to determine the letter grade, is changing and many scores are likely to fall.

According to Local Law 33, passed in December 2017, every building over 25,000 square feet will have to display an energy efficiency grade near each public entrance to the building. The grade will be based on its ENERGY STAR rating, established using the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

Many NYC building owners are already familiar with this benchmarking tool – since 2011, it’s been required for city buildings over 50,000 square feet. This covered only about 4 percent of all buildings in the city but accounted for 51 percent of the square feet.

But here’s the kicker — after August 26 this year, the EPA is updating the performance metrics upon which many ENERGY STAR scores are based –  although residential building are excluded from the revision. For many other sectors, the current 2003 data set used for benchmarking will be replaced by a 2012 set that will reflect the fact that buildings have steadily become more energy efficient.

As a result, since the bar will be set higher, many sectors aing to be tough to ace. Here’s the scoring matrix NYC will be using.

It looks like most NYC buildings that have been well maintained will still squeeze by with a B grade, even factoring in the decrease in the ENERGY STAR grade. However, the new law also requires owners to post a number score alongside the letter grade. There’s a big difference between a 51 and an 89 –  one that tenants and investors will notice.

For mixed-use buildings, the situation is complicated. If your ENERGY STAR score factors in significant retail or office square footage, your score, too, may decline at the end of the summer.

Here at Ecosystem, we’ve been studying the impact of the new law and the changes in the ENERGY STAR rating system – and we’re sure you are, too. It’s too late to take meaningful steps to improve your ENERGY STAR score for the August deadline, but to remain competitive in 2020, building owners will need to make improvements by the end of 2019, and that means planning now. Only a deep energy retrofit approach will achieve the A grade that will let your building stand out from the crowd.

Are you interested in learning more about how you can be ready for 2020? Ecosystem can help you identify opportunities to improve scores while creating savings and achieving other operational goals.


Jaime Pereira
O: 646-692-7800 x 6244
C: 917.587.6884

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