Ask Me Anything: NY Carbon Emissions with Sy Cohen

At Shadow Ventures, we've built a community of tech-focused industry professionals who refuse to accept the status quo. In our community Slack channel, we frequently host Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions on issues that pertain to our ecosystem. Recently, we had the pleasure of talking toSy Cohen, Mechanical Design Engineer at BuroHappold Engineering and Partner at SC Associates. Our topic was the Climate Mobilization Act passed in NYC which introduced several new laws for all buildings over 25,000 sq. ft. Here's what Sy told us.


  • The NYC Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act in the spring of 2019. The intent of the law is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) from commercial buildings. NYC commercial buildings are responsible for emitting 70% of all NYC greenhouse gasses. The goal of the law is to reduce these emissions by 80% in stages by 2050.
  • Implementing the plan will involve electrifying buildings and moving the emissions from the building site to the utility source. A second phase involves the creation of a more renewable utility grid to feed the building sites.
  • The laws: LL97 limits carbon emissions. LL92 & 94 are solar panels and green roof law (all new buildings are required plus any major retrofits). LL95 says every building gets a letter grade that is generated from their annual Local Law 84/133 benchmarking filing. Letter grades must be prominently posted on the buildings starting fall 2020.
  • Carbon limits are set for each building occupancy type (office, hospital, multifamily, etc).
  • The law provides coefficients based on occupancy to determine a building’s carbon cap. The coefficients become more stringent every five years starting in 2025. Exceeding the limit comes with a carbon penalty of $268 per metric ton of carbon emitted. The penalty can be substantial for some buildings.
  • Question: Do you see this new law as an opportunity for AEC firms and startups to provide new services and technology? If so, what are the most immediate? Answer: The first step is to perform a benchmarking of the building to see if there will be any issues related to letter grades or carbon penalties. We can provide a carbon projection report included with your mandatory NYC Local Law 84/133 benchmarking. Battery implementation will be a big thing now that all buildings will try to start moving towards electrifying their systems.

For the entire conversation, check out the Industry Professional Slack or click here to apply.

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