Thursday, December 1 2022

November 1, 2022

Mary Ann Rothmangeneral manager of the New York Council of Co-operatives and Condominiumsis spooked by how few co-op and condo boards are taking the steps to cut their buildings down” carbon dioxide emission enough to avoid fines Local Law 97 of the Climate Mobilization Actwhich start in 2024.

“Not everyone is happy with this legislation,” Rothman told The Real Deal. “What scares me the most is how few New Yorkers are tuned in at this late date.”

Because buildings account for more than two-thirds of the city’s carbon emissions, Local Law 97, which was passed in 2019, set emission caps in 2024, 2030, and beyond. Buildings that do not comply will face heavy fines. Fearing these fines, the real estate industry has sought for years to change the law, but the objections come almost entirely from commercial property owners. Condominiums and cooperatives were virtually absent from the conversation. Many members of this world do not even seem to know the law. Rothman couldn’t recall a single conversation about it with condo or co-op board members in the past eight months.

In this void, the city Buildings Department released draft rules for Local Law 97, which will be open for comment at a public hearing on Nov. 14. The final rules are expected to be submitted to the city council by the end of the year and adopted shortly thereafter.

Older co-op and condo buildings that aren’t as airtight as new construction face a particularly steep climb to get in shape for Local Law 97. Mark Schwartzmember of the 1235 Park Avenue condominium board, considers its 60-unit 1928 building an aging relative.

“My dad is about the same age, and they both constantly need bypass surgery or something,” Schwartz says. Orsidethe building’s property manager, approached Schwartz in 2019 to tell him that the building needed to pull itself together.

The building hired a contractor to identify how it could achieve compliance. Since then, the board has added small efficiencies as maintenance needs arise: better insulation accompany a new roof and modern steam heating valvesfor example.

“A lot of the work we did 10 or 15 years ago now comes back to help us,” says Schwartz. “But if you had to do all of that at once, that’s a big deal.”

Orsid has launched an information campaign to inform the approximately 200 cooperatives and condos it manages of the deadlines imposed by law. “People think, ‘Oh, compliance, I just need to tick one box,'” says Dennis de Paola, a company executive. “That’s not how it works.”

This can be particularly difficult for condominiums, where residents own their units rather than shares in the building and may be reluctant to change. There may also be delays in funding and difficulties in finding contractors. It can even be complicated for public officials whose jobs revolve around housing. Pierina Sanchezwho chairs the city council Housing and Buildings Committeelives in a 75-unit co-op, one of the buildings set to reduce emissions by 2024. Sanchez says they lack engineers to help them get into compliance.

“I personally feel the pain, along with my neighbours,” Sanchez said, adding that raising monthly maintenance even a few hundred dollars could be “catastrophic” for a senior on a fixed income.

Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. As Rothman knows so well, it’s time for co-op and condo boards to get their heads out of the sand and get busy making plans.

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