Guide To Building Energy Efficiency Ratings: NYC Building Energy Grades

Introduction – Building Energy Efficiency Ratings

The importance of energy efficiency and carbon reduction in buildings cannot be overstated. As global concerns about climate change and resource depletion continue to grow, the need for sustainable and eco-friendly living practices is becoming ever more crucial. This comprehensive guide aims to inform readers about the building energy efficiency ratings, New York City’s energy grading laws (NYC Building Energy Grades) , and how they connect with sustainable, eco-conscious living.

Local Laws 84, 87, and 95 reflect energy requirements

Understanding Building Energy Efficiency Ratings

Defining energy efficiency ratings for buildings can be a complex process. In general, these ratings provide a measure of a building’s overall energy performance and its impact on the environment. Various rating systems exist to assess energy efficiency, including ENERGY STAR, LEED, and the HERS Index. Factors that influence a building’s energy efficiency rating range from the materials and design used in construction to the heating, cooling, and lighting systems employed.

A higher energy efficiency rating brings numerous benefits, such as lower utility costs, better indoor environmental quality, and a smaller carbon footprint. To reduce energy consumption and improve the building’s rating, owners and tenants can take steps like sealing air leaks, insulating walls, installing energy-efficient appliances, and using renewable energy sources like solar panels.

NYC Building Energy Grades

New York City has been a forerunner in energy efficiency legislation. The city’s energy grading requirements, including Local Laws 84, 87, and 95, place strict obligations on building owners to maintain energy performance transparency and improve efficiency. Local Law 84 mandates energy use benchmarking for large buildings, while Local Law 87 requires energy audits and retro-commissioning to uncover potential efficiency improvements. Local Law 95 stipulates that building owners must post clearly visible energy grade signs based on their energy efficiency ratings.

Local Law 95 – A Closer Look At NYC Building Energy Grades

Local Law 95 aims to create greater transparency and promote energy efficiency in the city’s buildings. Under the law, building owners must display energy grade signs calculated based on the building’s Source Energy Use Intensity (EUI) and ENERGY STAR score.

The grading system assigns buildings with a letter grade, from A (the most energy-efficient) to F. Compliance with Local Law 95 is vital for building owners wishing to avoid penalties and maintain eco-conscious reputations. Here’s a table that outlines what each grade means:

NYC Local Law 95 Energy GradeEnergy Star ScoreDescription
A90-100These buildings are among the top 10% in terms of energy efficiency. They have implemented a wide range of energy-saving measures, and they represent the highest standard for energy efficiency.
B50-89These buildings are more efficient than the median, but they’re not as efficient as Grade A buildings. This category encompasses a wide range of buildings, all of which are more energy-efficient than most buildings.
C20-49These buildings are less efficient than most buildings but are not the worst performers. They have significant potential for energy efficiency improvements.
DLess than 20These buildings are among the bottom 20% in terms of energy efficiency. They are the least efficient buildings and offer the most room for improvement.
FNot SubmittedThese buildings have failed to submit the necessary data to receive an energy efficiency grade. They could face penalties for non-compliance.
NExemptThese buildings are exempt from the grading system. This could be because they are new constructions, undergoing major alterations, or because they serve certain uses that are exempt under the law.

Impact Of NYC Energy Grading Laws On Building Owners, Tenants, And The Environment

The energy grading laws in NYC impact building owners, tenants, and the city’s overall environmental health. These laws encourage retrofitting and upgrading inefficient buildings by exposing their energy performance for prospective buyers and renters. Benefits of improving energy efficiency extend to cost savings on utilities, higher property values, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. With buildings accounting for a significant portion of global carbon emissions, these steps are crucial in the fight against climate change.

Energy efficiency benefits all parties in the long run

Case Studies – NYC Building Energy Grades

Several iconic buildings in New York City demonstrate the potential for outstanding energy efficiency performance.

Empire State Building (2010)

The Empire State Building’s retrofit project is a great example of buildings improved for energy efficiency. The project, carried out in 2010, was a comprehensive overhaul that cost $550 million with $106 million allocated for energy efficiency improvements.

The retrofit included refurbishing all 6,514 windows to create super-insulated panels, installing intelligent building controls, upgrading lighting, and replacing large mechanical equipment with more energy-efficient models. These upgrades reduced the building’s energy usage by a staggering 38% and saves an estimated $4.4 million annually in energy costs.

One Bryant Park Bank of America Tower (2010)

One Bryant Park, better known as the Bank of America Tower, is another great example of energy-efficient architecture in New York City. Completed in 2010, this skyscraper was designed with sustainability at its core. The building has earned LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of recognition by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Bank of America Tower utilizes an array of energy-efficient technologies. High-efficiency lighting significantly reduces energy demand. An on-site co-generation plant, also known as a combined heat and power (CHP) system, produces electricity and captures waste heat for use within the building.

Other noteworthy features include water conservation systems like waterless urinals and rainwater collection for reuse. A high-performance glass curtain wall maximizes daylighting while minimizing heat gain. These features have contributed to the building’s impressive ENERGY STAR score of 87.

One World Trade Center (2006)

As the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Trade Center sets a high bar for energy efficiency. The tower uses ultra-clear exterior glass to maximize daylight and reduce the need for artificial lighting. It also features a fuel cell system that generates clean, reliable energy onsite.

The building is cooled by an innovative ice storage system. During off-peak hours, the system freezes water, which is then used to cool the building during the day, reducing the demand on the electrical grid during peak usage times. This building has also achieved LEED Gold certification, a testament to its sustainable design.

Tips For Eco-Friendly And Sustainable Living In NYC Buildings

For individuals looking to promote eco-friendly and sustainable living in their urban environment, small changes can make a significant difference. Opting for green commuting and transportation options, participating in community gardening, and supporting local eco-friendly businesses can help to cultivate a more sustainable city. Encouraging building owners and managers to adopt sustainable practices benefits not only the tenants but also the broader community and environment.


The journey towards carbon reduction and eco-friendly living begins with understanding the importance of building energy efficiency ratings and New York City’s energy grading laws. By taking personal and collective actions, we can contribute to creating a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable urban landscape.

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