NYC’s Proposed New Facade Inspection Rules May Increase Costs for Co-op and Condo Owners

While not yet finalized, New York City’s Department of Buildings plans to release a stricter set of requirements for its Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP, also known as Local Law 11), for the 9th Cycle of the law, which begins in February 2020.

These safety regulations address the condition of the facade, balconies, architectural details, etc. of every building over six stories tall. Should the proposed changes take effect, building owners can expect the scope of work and the cost of Local Law 11 inspections to increase significantly. Proposed changes include:

• More comprehensive facade examinations and more detailed reports
• Rather than the single scaffold drop currently required, the new regulations will require scaffold drops every 60 feet on each exterior wall fronting the street or any other area where the public may walk

• Probes will be required on cavity walls to ensure the safety of areas behind the facade
• Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QEWI’s) must now have three years of relevant experience with buildings over six stories, rather than one, as in the past, as well as relevant experience and knowledge of NYC building codes and facade rules

• Building owners will be required to post the building’s facade condition certificate in the lobby in a manner similar to elevator certificates

Once the property has been inspected, the QEWI must submit a report rating the facade as Safe, Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program, or Unsafe. If Unsafe conditions exist, the property must immediately install a sidewalk shed to protect the public walking past, and correct the problem within 90 days.

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The next cycle of NYC’s Local Law 11, or Facade Safety Inspection Program, begins in February, with stricter, more costly, requirements for inspecting building facades.

NYC Climate Advisory Board Appointed in December

New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act, which includes Local Law 97, was passed in April 2019, as part of the City’s goal of making New York City carbon neutral by 2050. In December, the newly created 15-member Climate Advisory Board met for the first time, tasked with providing advice and recommendations toward the implementation of the new legislation.

“Progressive cities like ours must lead the way on climate change, and that’s exactly what this Council did with Local Law 97. The Council is proud of its appointees to the Climate Advisory Board and looks forward to working with them and with the administration’s appointees to continue the fight against climate change,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“We are proud to take a leading role in executing the Green New Deal,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca. “We look forward to working with a broad range of stakeholders to help establish best practices to tackle the largest source of our city’s emissions, our buildings. We owe it to future generations to meet the challenge of global warming head-on.” Buildings currently account for approximately two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in NYC.

The Local Law 97 Advisory Board is made up of architects, engineers, property owners, representatives from the business sector and public utilities, environmental justice advocates, and tenant advocates. In addition to providing guidance, the Advisory Board is also required to prepare and submit periodic reports on the results of implementation once the law is fully in effect.

The City’s goals are ambitious and laudable, but they will take time, effort and expense to implement. We are working closely with all our client boards to start early and budget wisely to meet the target dates set for by the City and to avoid any fines by meeting requirements in a timely manner.

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NYC’s Climate Mobilization Act meets the challenge of global warming head-on. Currently, buildings account for about two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in the City.

Low-Cost Options for LED Lighting

One of the options for reducing your property’s energy budget—and helping to improve the Energy Grade that the City gives it—is to replace existing lighting with LED bulbs. And there are currently numerous incentives being offered by ConEd and other entities to help offset the cost of converting to LEDs.

Increasing your building’s energy efficiency will not only help avoid future fines, as New York City implements the increasingly stringent rules of its Climate Mobilization Act, but will also add value to every apartment, as buyers look to own in those properties that can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint.

As one of the easiest and least costly ways of addressing energy efficiency, converting to LED lighting should be part of your building’s sustainability initiatives.

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Recycling: How to Improve Resident Compliance

Recycling is mandatory in New York City, with the goal of decreasing the 12,000 TONS of garbage that must be exported out of the City every single day. While 77% of this waste is recyclable, only 20% is actually being recycled currently. Since the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island in 2001, there has been no landfill in the City of New York. There is also no incinerator, so all our garbage must be exported for separation, treatment and disposal, at a huge expense to taxpayers.

Residents in multi-family buildings recycle at just half the rate of those in single-family homes, for a variety of reasons, ranging from anonymity of disposal to lack of information, poor communication and lack of financial incentives.

Some buildings have had great success in their recycling efforts, using a variety of strategies, including the following:

• Communication: Be sure to provide clear signage and well-marked receptacles in all garbage rooms. The Department of Sanitation will provide free signs to display. Inform existing residents as well as new buyers who are moving in. Hold an informational/social event to inform residents, such as a lobby drop-in to hand out organics pails and recycling bags.

• Education: Take advantage of all 3 additional Department of Sanitation curbside collection services for buildings of 10 units or more: organics, clothing and the e-cycle program for electronics. Inform residents of all these programs and provide bins in the basement for these specialized items.

• Containers: The City gives out free organics pails that can be distributed to residents.

• Enforcement: Gentle enforcement is key to compliance. Some buildings impose fines after a third offense. The board should decide what is the best strategy for your building.

• Rewards: Thank people for good recycling efforts. Some buildings have even held a pizza party for staff and residents as a thank you for good recycling compliance.

• Create a Team: Create a team of owners, residents, managers, and building staff to work together to make the system work. The board may want to appoint a committee to research and implement a plan to improve recycling in your building.

• Convey the Benefits: Saving money on chute cleaning, reducing policing efforts by staff, avoiding fines, preventing rats, improving staff morale if recycling rules are followed—these are some of the benefits of recycling. Collecting organics can help cut down on rats because all the food is placed in completely airtight containers, and not in garbage bags that can rip and leak and that rats and other pests can bite through. And the long-term goal is to reduce the City’s waste removal costs…which will save taxpayers money.

• Education: Free training for staff is available through Union 32BJ and also at the Department of Sanitation.

• More Information: Visit ManhattanSWAB.org to download recycling guides and info and to learn more about how to educate your staff and residents to help improve recycling in your building.

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The former Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island was closed in 2001 and has since been reclaimed as a beautiful public park. Reducing NYC’s waste stream through recycling can help reduce the 12,000 tons of garbage we export daily…by as much as 60%, if New Yorkers are committed to the program.

Energy-Reduction Strategies

With deadlines looming for New York’s stringent new energy use regulations, building owners, boards and unit owners are looking at ways to make their properties more energy efficient. Unit owners can initiate some important energy saving measures that will have significant impact on the entire building’s consumption. Such as:

  • If you have through-the-wall or window-installed air conditioners, make sure they are the most energy-efficient models available. Be sure to seal them during the off-season.
  • Upgrade to high efficiency windows
  • Install thermal window shades, plastic insulation, weather stripping and/or draft stoppers to keep the heat in during cold weather and the AC in during hot weather.
  • Install low-flow toilets and showerheads to reduce water consumption
  • Replace incandescent or coil style light bulbs with LED bulbs
  • Change air filters semi-annually
  • If you have an in-unit water heater, turn the thermostat down when you are out of town, or year-round as long as the temperature remains comfortable
  • Shut down computers and other devices when not in use, and unplug chargers from the wall
  • Turn off lights and air conditioners when not in use
  • If you have an in-unit washer and dryer, use cold water only, and be sure your unit is an energy-efficient model
  • When it comes time to replace your dishwasher and/or refrigerator, buy the most energy-efficient model
  • Put rugs or carpeting on at least some of the floors
  • Use “smart” power strips that shut down when not in use or flip off regular power strips when not in use
  • Consider a “smart home” system, such as Alexa or Apple Home, which allows you to control appliances from your smart phone
  • Seal the door to the elevator or common hallway to keep heat or air conditioning from escaping
  • If you have ceiling fans, change the direction depending on the season: push warm air down in winter and up in summer
  • Vacuum and dust refrigerator coils; this can increase efficiency significantly
  • Be sure AC units and heaters are not blocked by furniture or other barriers
  • Inform your Super or Manager of any leaky faucets or running toilets to reduce water consumption.
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Energy efficient appliances and fixtures can drastically reduce your property’s energy consumption.

 

 

City Code Compliance Update

Keeping up with New York City’s ever-changing building regulations is a full-time job. That’s why our compliance department is constantly on top of new Local Laws and other safety issues that impact the properties we manage. Due to the expansion of the City’s Façade Inspection regulations, properties need to inspect and repair their exteriors on a regular basis to ensure the safety of balconies, parapets, brick, stone and other materials that overhang the sidewalks. The City’s Benchmarking program continues to expand in an effort to reduce carbon emissions throughout the five boroughs. Starting in 2020, buildings will be given “grades” from A to D, based on how energy efficient they are. These ratings may impact property values, adding to the incentive to improve energy conservation efforts in areas from lighting to heating and air conditioning.

Another new City regulation requires that all automatic elevators have “door lock monitors” installed and operational by January 1, 2020. The purpose of the monitors is to prevent elevators from operating unless the all the doors are closed on every floor of the elevator shaft. It also prevents the exterior elevator doors from opening if the elevator cab is not at that floor. The new safety requirement is designed to prevent anyone from being caught in an elevator door while the car is moving, or from falling into an open elevator shaft.

At Douglas Elliman Property Management, client safety and building compliance are of paramount importance. Your building manager is working to ensure that your property meets all City regulations. If you have any questions about building code compliance, don’t hesitate to contact your manager or our office at 212-370-9200.

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A new City regulation requires that all automatic elevators have “door lock monitors” installed and operational by January 1, 2020.

NYC’s New Climate Mobilization Act

On April 22nd, 2019 Mayor DeBlasio signed into law the Climate Mobilization Act (CMA), affecting all buildings over 25,000 square feet throughout New York City. This is the City’s third significant piece of legislation designed to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in New York City by 80% by the year 2050. The CMA follows “plaNYC2030” in 2011 which eliminated #6 oil and spurred the oil-to-gas conversions in NYC buildings, and the “oneNYCplan” in 2015, which introduced Local Law 84 (Benchmarking) and Local Law 87 (Energy Audits and Retro-commissioning), both designed to further incentivize buildings to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions.

The first year of enforcement is 2025, and will be based on each building’s energy usage in 2024, compared to a citywide baseline of 2005. Most buildings will require significant capital expenditures to become compliant with these new regulations. In an effort to help building boards and owners finance these upgrades, the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC) is creating a low interest, long-term funding program that will hopefully be available to all housing sectors.

It’s imperative that all buildings begin now—if they have not already—to learn about their current energy efficiency level and to plan and begin to implement a long-term strategy of compliance in order to avoid paying fines when the enforcement period begins in 2025. Every CMA Plan should begin by reviewing the building’s LL84 Benchmarking report, which will reveal its EnergyStar score and upcoming Letter Grade, which will be issued in 2020. By verifying the parameters used in the Benchmarking report, buildings can be sure that the score is accurate; scores take into account number of units, number of bedrooms, square footage and other facts about the building, so it’s important to be sure the City has the correct information. Each building’s Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning Report also includes a series of Energy Reduction Measures, with projected savings, estimated budget, and payback period. This is a key list of where to begin to reduce energy consumption and improve the building’s score.

We will keep all of our properties apprised of the ongoing developments of the Climate Mobilization Act. The goal of reducing emissions is a worthy one, but it will certainly take time, effort and significant investment. At DEPM, we will work continuously with our building boards and owners to help meet these requirements as they continue to evolve.

For more information on this legislation, visit this link:

Climate Mobilization Act

Multifamily Solar Array

It’s imperative that all buildings begin now—if they have not already—to learn about their current energy efficiency level and to plan and begin to implement a long-term strategy of compliance in order to avoid paying fines when the enforcement period begins in 2025.