Green Building Standards Under New York City Local Law 86

Client Advisory

August 3, 2007
by Christine A. Fazio and Melinda Poon

Pursuant to New York City Local Law 86 (2005), which took effect in January 2007, persons who seek capital funds from New York City valued at either $10 million or 50% of the cost of the building construction or reconstruction must ensure the construction or reconstruction meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building guidelines of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). In addition, new buildings and additions constructed by the City that cost more than $2 million must also be energy efficient and adhere to the LEED green building guidelines. Because the City owns approximately 1,300 buildings and leases over 12.8 million square feet of office space, the New York City Council concluded, when enacting the law, that the use of green building criteria would reduce New York City’s electricity consumption, air pollution, and water usage while also improving occupant health and worker productivity and encourage market transformations.

Buildings receive LEED certification by the USGBC if their designs score sufficient points in five categories of performance: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The number of points the project earns determines the level of LEED certification, with LEED Platinum being the highest level followed by LEED Gold, LEED Silver and LEED Certified. Information on achieving LEED certification is available on the USGBC website at under the heading “LEED” or on the website for the New York Chapter of the USGBC at

Local Law 86 required that the Mayor of New York City develop rules to implement the program. That duty was delegated to the New York City Office of Environmental Coordination (OEC). In March 2007, OEC adopted regulations entitled Green Buildings Standards, which are promulgated as a new Chapter 10 to Title 43 of the Rules of the City of New York. Local Law 86 and the regulations are available on the OEC website at, and further information can also be obtained at the New York City Department of Design and Construction’s website at under Sustainable Design.

The LEED certification standard, energy savings and water usage reductions that must be achieved under Local Law 86 depend on the estimated capital construction costs and the occupied use of the project. For example, construction projects for schools and hospitals costing $2 million in City funds must achieve a LEED certification whereas construction projects for all other uses costing $2 million in City funds must achieve a silver LEED certification. A construction project other than a school with construction costs over $30 million must achieve a silver LEED certification and reduce energy costs by 25%. The law and regulations also provide specific requirements for boilers, lighting systems, HVAC systems and plumbing installations or replacements. Stand-alone parking garages are not subject to the green building standards because there is no LEED certification available at this time. Capital projects may also apply for exemptions from one or more green building requirements under OEC’s regulations. 

Questions regarding this client advisory should be directed to Christine A. Fazio ( or Melinda Poon (

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