Recently, Howard Peskoe and I were invited to speak to the New York chapter of the International Facilities Managers Association on the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan and its impact on IFMA’s members.

IFMA asked us to speak because a major component of the GGBP (the benchmarking law) is about to become effective on May 1, 2011.

We have addressed the GGBP in ZONE previously, but now seems the perfect time to revisit its four laws.

NYC Energy Conservation Code: This new energy code is a local code that is stricter and has a greater emphasis on energy efficiency. The code is currently in effect and perhaps its biggest impact is that it closes the loophole in the State Energy Code that exempts renovations smaller than 50% of a building from the updated code. This is important because nearly all renovations in NYC are smaller than 50% of a building and therefore would be otherwise not be subject to the stricter efficiency standard.

Benchmarking: The benchmarking law deserves the most attention at this moment, as it goes into effect on May 1, 2011. The law requires all buildings over 50,000 square feet to annually benchmark their energy and water usage covering the time period of the previous calendar year. Building managers and owners are required to use a free online tool, provided by the Environmental Protection Agency to input the energy and water consumption data. Those that do not meet the May 1 deadline are subject to Department of Buildings violations and a quarterly $500 fine. The DOB has published a proposed rule that will be debated publicly on March 21. The rule can be found here (pdf). Additionally, Urban Green Council (the NY chapter of the USGBC) has published a checklist for meeting the requirements of the Benchmarking law.

Lighting & Submetering: This bill, also applying to buildings over 50,000 square feet, requires lighting to be upgraded to meet the requirements in the new Energy Conservation Code and also requires owners to install electrical sub-meters to commercial tenants. Both provisions must be met by January 1, 2025.

Energy Audit & Retro-commissioning: The final law requires a once-per-decade energy audit and the subsequent retro-commissioning recommended in the audit. Energy audits are examinations of a building’s base systems (e.g. hvac, envelope, etc.). Retro-commissioning is a “tweaking” of those existing base building systems. It is not retro-fitting, which is a more substantial renovation or replacement of the building systems. Also applying to buildings over 50,000 square feet, this law goes into effect in 2013, with a phasing in over the course of a decade.

At the IFMA presentation, Howard (pictured above) and I spoke about these laws and their impact on building owners, managers, and tenants. Many questions were asked and as with anything new, there is some confusion about requirements.

Should you have questions about the GGBP, please ask them in the comments below or contact us directly.