Landlords could choose to pass along fines to grocery stores or avoid leasing to them, according to a lobbying letter sent to council members this week by Richard Lipsky, who represents DAgostino and Gristedes supermarkets and others.

DAgostino is hoping grocery stores can receive their own category that would set reduction goals based on their power needs, without penalizing the building as a whole. The group has asked Councilman Keith Powers of Manhattan to bring the issue to the council.

The Climate Mobilization Act was historic and meaningful legislation to address climate change, and Powers was proud to vote for it, said Liz Peters, a spokeswoman for the councilman. He is reviewing the concerns of grocers. 

Environmental groups in support of the climate legislation have acknowledged that meeting its goals will be difficult for some buildings. The nonprofit Urban Green Council called this summer for the city to introduce a cap-and-trade program that would allow those landlords to purchase emissions credits from other building owners at a cheaper rate than the citys fine.

If [landlords] are suddenly getting fines because of energy usage, they are going to come to me and ask how to cut down, DAgostino said. I could stop selling fresh food, but that does not sound reasonable.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study in 2015 described grocery stores as the most electricity-intensive type of commercial building due to the need to keep food chilled, with refrigeration systems accounting for 40% to 60% of a stores electricity consumption. 

Other energy-intensive businesses fought for changes to Local Law 97 before its passage last year. They included hospitals, which representatives said require constant energy usage that cannot easily be cut. Because of that, the city Department of Buildings, which this year launched eight separate working groups to study how to implement the law, included a working group focused on helping health care facilities comply.

The groups, which have been meeting remotely since May, are scheduled to provide a report to the council by Jan. 1, 2023, on how the law will be enforced and what measures the city will offer to help building owners cut energy consumption.

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