New York City has publicly posted energy and water benchmarking data for 2,065 large commercial properties covering more than 530 million square feet. The data was gathered under the New York City Local Law 84 (LL84) benchmarking ordinance. The ordinance, which was passed in 2009 and is part of the city’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP), requires owners of privately-owned properties with an individual building of over 50,000 square feet—or with multiple buildings with a combined square footage of over 100,000 square feet—to annually measure and report their energy and water use.

Buildings are responsible for 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city, which is almost double the proportion in the U.S. as a whole (39 percent). To address this, the city passed the GGBP, which is comprised of four regulatory actions: LL84; Local Law 85, a New York City Energy Conservation Code; Local Law 87, addressing energy audits and retro-commissioning; and Local Law 88, addressing lighting in non-residential spaces.

Under LL84, building owners must submit energy and water usage data each year by May 1 each year. Starting in 2013, LL84 disclosures will apply to both residential and non-residential buildings.

Metrics for LL84 are collected via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager tool and relies on self-reporting. Data collected includes energy use intensity (EUI), greenhouse gas emissions, Energy Star ratings, and water usage per square foot (or water use intensity). Approximately 75 percent of properties covered by LL84 complied with the benchmarking requirement by the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline. Of the 2,065 properties benchmarked in 2011, 1,298 are in Manhattan, 283 are in Queens, 281 are in Brooklyn, 153 are in the Bronx, and 50 are in Staten Island.

Key findings of the 2011 report include:

  • Property owners could achieve significant reductions in energy and greenhouse gas emissions by making cost-effective improvements to the most energy-intensive buildings, which use three to five times as much energy as the least energy-intensive buildings. 

  • Bringing large buildings up to the median EUI in their building type category could reduce energy consumption by 18 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent 

  • On average, buildings in New York City are in line with Northeast United States averages but use less energy than national averages, with a median Energy Star score of 64 (out of 100). 

  • Newer office buildings in New York City tend to use more energy per square foot than older ones. 

  • Larger office buildings tend to be more energy intensive than smaller ones, but smaller multifamily buildings tend to be more energy intensive than larger ones.

The full 2011 Local Law 84 Benchmarking Report is available in PDF download.