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From Blueprint to Bill: NYC Building Emissions Law – How the groundbreaking climate legislation came into effect

One third of the world’s energy goes to light, heat, and cool buildings. To avoid dangerous global climate change we must significantly reduce this consumption by 2030. Building efficiency is not only a climate imperative, but it’s also a crucial piece of the full sustainable development puzzle, worth an estimated $26 trillion by 2050.

However, the fragmentation of the building and construction sectors has made scaling best practices and innovation slower than in other industries. Partnerships and collaboration are therefore crucial to tapping the full carbon-savings potential of a building.

The Cities Climate Action project, supported by the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) and launched by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), equips Green Building Councils (GBCs) to deliver transformational change in building efficiency city policies and action. This project creates a replicable framework through which the public, private, and NGO sectors can collaborate to deliver energy efficiency in buildings at scale.

As part of this project, WorldGBC and Urban Green Council partnered to create a hub for the exchange of the world’s best green building ideas. We aim to accelerate climate action in cities, starting with a joint webinar From Blueprint to Bill: NYC Building Emissions Law.

The webinar covered best practices and lessons learned from Urban Green’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership report, the Blueprint for EfficiencyA collaborative effort from the city’s leading building and energy stakeholders to develop smart climate change policies, the report delivered a groundbreaking framework to cut carbon in New York City’s large buildings 20 percent by 2030.

Recognising the need for extensive engagement to develop the most impactful and thoughtful policy, Urban Green brought together more than 70 individuals from over 40 organizations from the real estate, labor, energy efficiency, nonprofit and government sectors.

The result of eight months of discussion and 85 meetings, the Blueprint provides a practical policy framework to reduce emissions in large buildings by 2030 and create the infrastructure to scale improvements through 2050. There are 21 detailed proposals that shape this world-leading policy, including sector-level energy targets for 2030, a metric that requires smaller reductions from more-efficient buildings, and flexible compliance options like green power purchasing and efficiency credit trading.

Expanding support and financing options to help owners comply, with particular focus on sectors that need more help

On May 18, New York City enacted Local Law 97 of 2019, the most ambitious climate legislation enacted by any city in the world. LL97 sets carbon emissions caps for NYC’s large buildings and reflects many elements of the Blueprint, including more feasible timelines, a green power purchase option, a provision for carbon trading, and future refinement through an advisory board process.

You can watch a recording of the webinar From Blueprint to Bill: NYC Building Emissions Law below and learn about the process behind this groundbreaking law. Hear from leading organisations what lessons and solutions could be used by BEA cities and states working in the Americas towards the same goal: energy efficiency in buildings.


  • Russell Unger, Chief Strategy Officer, Urban Green Council
  • Chris Halfnight, Associate Director of Policy, Urban Green Council
  • Juanita Alvarez, Americas Regional Head, World Green Building Council