The latest news on New York architecture.

  • What You Should Know about the Facade Inspection Safety Program

    What You Should Know about the Facade Inspection Safety Program

    The Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), previously known as Local Law 11, requires owners of buildings six stories and up to schedule an inspection of the exterior walls and appurtenances by a New York State licensed architect or engineer every five years. Depending on the building’s level of deterioration, a building owner may be required to coordinate a second inspection so that the architect or engineer may verify the progress of corrective measures.

    Now that you understand what FISP is, perhaps you’re wondering why it exists. Unfortunately, most building code is written because of an unfortunate event. In the case of FISP, this is also true. In 1980, a pedestrian was killed when a piece of masonry fell from the facade of a building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In order to prevent similar tragedies from occurring, New York City Council amended the building code to provide for periodic inspections of street facades and appurtenances. Later, in 1997 and 1998, there were several more exterior wall failures in New York City. As a result, the city passed New York City Local Law 11 of 1998, which required inspections and maintenance of the façades of buildings greater than six stories in height.

    Owners of such buildings are required to have a Registered Architect or Professional Engineer, known as a “qualified exterior wall inspector,” to perform a visual and close-up inspection of the entire building envelope, including side and rear facing walls. This inspection also includes the examination fire escapes, railings, parapets and roof. Appurtenances such as air conditioners, canopies, satellite dishes, and antennae are also subject to inspection.

    After the inspection, the qualified exterior wall inspector will prepare the drawings and file with the Department of Buildings (DOB). Buildings may be classified as safe, safe with a repair and maintenance program (SWARMP), or unsafe. A building classified as SWARMP, must be repaired in a timely fashion, while an unsafe building is dangerous and requires immediate attention.

    Unsafe conditions may include items such as loose bricks, cracked windows, leaning walls, or improperly secured air conditioners, as well as other conditions which may be dangerous to pedestrians below. Unsafe conditions must be dealt with immediately, within a 30-day period, and an amended report must be filed confirming the repairs. Extensions of up to 90 days may be granted if necessary.

    Regular facade inspections help identify potential problems such as water infiltration and heat loss for tenants and keeps people safe on the street below. For more information, please contact us.

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  • Understanding Local Law 84

    Understanding Local Law 84

    If you own a large building, then you should already be aware of Local Law 84, also known as the NYC Benchmarking Law. This law holds you responsible for reporting the water and energy consumption of your property.

    Starting in 2018, Local Law 84 is expanding to include mid-size buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet, but less than 50,000 square feet. This means that a whole new range of properties will now be required to comply with Local Law 84. Because of this, it is very important owners of mid-size buildings are able to understand and provide the necessary information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s online portal, because a failure to comply will result in a penalty.  

    The purpose of this law is not only to help the local authorities understand the consumption of water and energy, but allow for an increased amount of transparency. This is of particular importance because many people, when looking for a place to live, take into consideration the energy efficiency of the building. By collecting this data, the city will be able to provide both landlords and renters with the information they need in order to make more sustainable choices. 

    The Process

    If you’re a mid-size building owner and you aren't sure how to comply with the new annual benchmarking process, we’re here to help. Below, please find the necessary steps we’ve provided, which will help you understand the necessary forms to complete and how to get your building information registered:

    1. Check the Covered Buildings List online for your property every year.

    2. Set up an account in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, if you don't already have one.

    3. Enter or review the characteristics and uses of your building.

    4. Collect every bit of energy and water data from your utilities provider for the entire building.

    5. Record your energy and water usage in the Portfolio Manager® account you created in step 2 above.

    6. Confirm and enter your BBL and BIN information.

    7. Check your data for errors and completeness, and make adjustments as needed.

    8. Submit usage data to the City by May 1 of every year through your profile.

    This process will help the New York City better plan energy uses in the future. Environmental protection remains a priority in the entire city, the stakeholders of which realize the importance of being as responsible as possible with energy and water. By knowing your energy consumption, you can then work towards making positive changes and reduce the energy used by your building. 

    If you own a building, you already know that there are a variety of inspections and laws you need to adhere to on a continuous basis. Local Law 84 is just one of them. But you don't need to panic; instead, simply work with experts that are there to help you navigate through the laws. If you have any questions, or need help in getting started, please contact us.

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