What is local law 88?

Local law 88 was enacted in December 2009 as part of the Greener Greater Buildings Plan. It requires upgrades to lighting systems and the installation of sub-meters by January 1, 2025.

What’s the point?

New York City’s council found that non-residential lighting is responsible for almost 18% of the energy used in buildings and roughly 18% of carbon emissions from buildings. Due to rapid improvements in lighting technology—like LEDs, occupancy sensors, and controls—it is possible to dramatically reduce energy use and costs by upgrading your lighting to a modern system.

New York City has set a lot of big goals for reducing carbon emissions. Local laws like LL88 act as a catalyst for building owners and managers to meet these goals by identifying areas of improvement and outlining paths to implement those improvements.


local law 88 lighting complianceFirst, let’s determine if you are responsible. 

You are not responsible if you are: a tenant, a resident, a leaser.

You are responsible if you are: a building or property owner, or co-op/condo association.


covered buildings local law 88Next, does your building need to comply?

To make it easy, if you had to comply with local law 87 (which requires that buildings over 50,000 gross square feet undergo periodic energy audit and retro-commissioning measures), you’ll also have to comply with local law 88. If you’re not sure, keep reading to find out if your building is included in the covered buildings.

(The city also released a list of covered buildings in 2019 that you can download as an excel file here. Buildings are listed by their Borough-Block-Lot (BBL) number. Or, get in touch with us—we’ll let you know if your building has to comply.) 

Here are some general guidelines to help you determine if your building is included.

You need to comply:
  • If your building exceeds 50,000 square feet
  • If there are two or more buildings on the same tax lot that total more than 100,000 square feet
  • If there are two or more buildings under condominium ownership that exceed 100,000 square feet, and are governed by the same board of managers

You do not need to comply:

  • If your building is a 1-3 family residential property.
  • If your property is in occupancy group R-2 or R-3.


  • Houses of worship classified in occupancy group A-3 are exempt from lighting requirements, but still need to file a lighting report demonstrating exemption, and must still comply with metering requirements. 

There’s a good chance that some of the lighting in your building already complies with LL88 lighting requirements from changes made during lease turnovers or renovations. But it’s important to track what lighting is already up to code and what areas still need upgrades.



how to comply with local law 88So what does it mean exactly to be “up to code”?

Covered buildings must demonstrate that the lighting in their building complies with the energy code in place after July 1, 2010. The most recent energy conservation code is from 2016.

There are essentially two parts to energy code lighting standards: energy density, or how much power is used in a given area (measured in watts of lighting per square foot) and lighting upgrades, meaning sensors, timers, control switches, etc.



led lighting local law 88Ok, but what does “lighting upgrade” actually mean?

  • High-efficacy lamps: High-efficacy is determined by the lumens (light emitted) per watts of power to produce the light. The acceptable ratio of lumens to watts depends on the wattage of the lamps. For example, a 60-watt or greater lamp must produce at least 60 lumens/W to be considered high efficacy. Examples of high-efficacy lamps are compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), T-8 linear fluorescent lamps, and LED lamps. Now that LEDs have been around for a while, they cost roughly the same as T-8s and CFLs, but last years longer and will quickly pay themselves back.
  • Daylight zones: A daylight zone is defined as “the floor area substantially illuminated by daylight”. By identifying the daylight zones in your building, you can determine the areas where implementing daylight control systems would be appropriate.
  • Occupancy sensors: An occupancy sensor automatically turns lighting on when motion is detected in a space, and automatically turns lighting off when motion is no longer detected.
  • Time-switch controls: A time-switch control is simply a timer that operates an electric switch controlled by the timing mechanism. Essentially, a clock with different lighting programmed for different times of day. These are required in some spaces that do not have occupancy sensors.


There are exceptions to every rule and exceptions to every exception. The energy conservation code is no different.

For example, if the space is in a healthcare facility where patient care is directly provided, a dwelling or sleeping unit, or where lighting is required to have a specific application control (such as display or accent lighting in a retail space), daylight responsive controls are not required. 

The code is dense and can get complicated. Let us help you find your way! Get in touch with one of Wavelength's LL88 experts today.

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Here you'll find copies of the actual laws, code, and other resources that may help in understanding Local Law 88 a little better.

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