This manual provides a decarbonization roadmap for affordable housing in New York City. Using this document, project teams can develop long term capital plans to meet New York City’s increasingly stringent Local Law 97 greenhouse gas emissions requirements.

Buildings with affordable and rent-regulated housing are not exempt from Local Law 97 (LL97), but are treated differently under the law. Many of these buildings are subject to the “Prescriptive Pathway” which requires buildings to implement a suite of low-cost prescriptive energy conservation measures or voluntarily meet 2030 GHG emissions limits. Other housing, primarily large income-restricted developments, are subject to the “2035 Pathway” and will need to start meeting emissions caps in 2035. With careful planning, owners of affordable housing can strategically decarbonize their buildings to meet LL97 compliance requirements while reducing energy costs, improving indoor air quality, and increasing residents’ health, safety, and comfort.

The intent of this manual and its accompanying tear sheets is to provide guidance on best practices for the entire ecosystem of affordable housing providers in NYC, to inform NYC Housing Preservation and Development’s design standards, practices, and protocols, and to guide NYC’s ongoing policy decisions around the decarbonization of affordable housing.

at a glance: Decarbonization Roadmap for Multifamily Affordable Housing Best Practices Manual and one of five tear sheets

Using the tear sheets and the Best Practices Manual as references, affordable housing stakeholders can proactively evaluate multiple retrofits based on their own projects to inform decarbonization strategies that ensure short and long-term compliance with local laws and reduce the risk of LL97 penalties where applicable.

This manual considers the most common affordable housing typologies in NYC and includes a mixture of pre-war, post-war, and post-1980 low-, mid-, and high-rise buildings as well as rentals, co-ops, and senior housing.

Five case studies are presented in the tear sheets accompanying this manual. Each study includes: an overview of the building’s base conditions, a description of two unique retrofit packages developed for that building’s particular typology and equipment profile, a cost and benefit matrix, and key takeaways.

The Low Carbon retrofit package provides moderate emissions reductions through key systems upgrades and strategic electrification. The No Carbon retrofit package provides deep emissions reductions through more robust systems upgrades and full building electrification, eliminating onsite fossil fuel use. Each retrofit package also includes an optional R-15 EIFS over-cladding scope to show how implementing more comprehensive envelope upgrades provides additional benefits and savings.

Energy conservation measures (ECMs) comprising each retrofit package are organized by specific building system categories, including envelope, heating, cooling and ventilation, domestic hot water, lighting, appliances, and renewables.


at a glance: Decarbonization Roadmap for Multifamily Affordable Housing sample tear sheet

With the resources from this project, affordable housing project teams will not only be able to reduce their building’s emissions and meet regulatory requirements, but also improve their residents’ lives and ensure a more resilient and equitable future.

In order to avert the most harrowing dangers of a changing climate, New York City must reduce the GHG emissions from all of its buildings, including those in the affordable housing sector. This undertaking presents an enormous challenge, but also an incredible opportunity. In addition to meeting New York’s ambitious climate goals, building decarbonization improves local air quality and reduces health risks, like asthma; contributes to the safety and comfort of residents; reduces operational costs for owners and residents; and increases the resiliency of the building and the electric grid.


stream: Decarbonization Roadmap for Multifamily Affordable Housing Presentation, April 21, 2023, at Building Energy Exchange


This resource was developed by Building Energy Exchange, NYC Housing Preservation & Development, and Bright Power, with support from New York State Energy Research & Development Authority.

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