Policy brief: NYC Building Emissions Reduction Bill

How installing solar on your rooftop
could save your business from penalties.


Property owners in New York City have felt new regulatory pressures in recent months due to a recent Building Emissions Reduction bill passed by the City council in May of 2019. The law, officially titled Bill 1253, sets a carbon emissions cap for buildings with a gross area greater than 25,000 sq ft.

While the legislation will help reduce the city’s air and climate pollution, particularly in industrial areas, it does leave the commercial real estate industry in uncertainty as to how their businesses will be affected by it. Luckily, the team here at Ecogy has compiled a list of answers to your most frequently asked questions.

Clouds of smoke rise from industrial buildings in Queens, NY. If these emissions aren’t curbed in the next four years, property owners will face penalties.  Source: Public Good

Clouds of smoke rise from industrial buildings in Queens, NY. If these emissions aren’t curbed in the next four years, property owners will face penalties.

Source: Public Good


What does the bill actually regulate?

The goal of Bill 1253 is to achieve a 40% reduction of citywide emissions by 2030. The City Council found that the most practical way to achieve this is by enforcing a carbon emissions cap on buildings with a gross area greater than 25,000 sq ft.

What will it cost me?

This estimate and calculator are strictly for informational purposes only. Ecogy does not hold any claims or responsibilities for the accuracy of this estimate.**

For more information on your building’s occupancy zone, please click here.

When will the bill take affect?

While property owners are encouraged to begin reducing their emissions as soon as possible, they will not be penalized until January 1, 2024. Starting then, all buildings which have emissions caps will have their energy usage audited.

How will emissions be measured and How much can each building emit?

Emissions will be measured in tons of “Carbon Dioxide Equivalents” (tCO2e). This amount will be determined from a large number of factors including electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and district steam usage. This will be determined by a yearly energy assessment by the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance.

The emissions cap will vary based on two factors: gross area and occupancy zone. This means that larger buildings will have more room to emit. Additionally, city-owned buildings, public/affordable housing, and places of worship will not have to reduce their emissions.

What Are the penalties for non-compliance?

For every tCO2e that a building emits over their emissions cap, a penalty of no more than $268 will be charged to the property owner.

Thus, buildings in occupancy groups with lower emissions caps will face larger fines. These include manufacturing, retail, business, and residential facilities.

is solar an appropriate alternative for emissions?

Yes, Bill 1253 considers “solar photovoltaics” a clean distributed energy source. A property owner will be able to receive a deduction from their emissions limit requirement when demonstrating the purchase of renewable energy credits or through the consumption of clean distributed energy resources.

if i buy solar/wind from upstate, can i deduct that from my emissions?

No, clean electricity must be generated within the New York City limits in order to qualify for an emissions reduction. Therefore, the value of renewable energy credits are expected to increase dramatically in the coming years.

how should building owners prepare for the implementation of bill 1253?

Ecogy believes that two of the best ways to offset fees are through on-site solar production and energy monitoring.

Not only can solar generation offset your building’s emissions, but it can provide you with an additional revenue stream from Ecogy’s site lease payments.

Because Ecogy can fully finance, own, and operate your rooftop system, we have every incentive to use the highest quality technology and equipment in order to maximize the generation from your rooftop.

Our model differs greatly from solar installers who require you to pay large upfront sums. They have no incentive to help you produce the maximum amount of clean energy, whereas Ecogy will ensure your system is as efficient and sustainable as possible, which will lead to greater emissions reductions in the long run.


Additionally, Ecogy is pleased to offer next-generation commercial energy monitoring services through our Econode product.

Using real-time monitoring software, we can help you track your building’s inefficient energy usage and streamline your energy audit experience, leading to increased long-run savings.