New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine December 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Electricity Evolutions

As an energy consultant, your job is basically to help co-op and condo boards cut their energy use, save money, be good to the planet. One of the big ways of doing that is electric submetering, which of course makes everybody pay as they go. You're doing a big project now in Manhattan. Tell us about that.

We’re working on an electric submetering project at London Terrace Towers in Chelsea, a 700-unit co-op. Over the course of the last year, Con Ed had replaced some of the master meters in the building, and the electricity consumption has gone up pretty significantly. So they’re interested in metering the electricity consumption of the residents in order to fairly charge back the electric costs associated with each individual's apartment. They're not only looking to decrease those costs but also to better understand how they’re using electricity, both in the residential portion and the common areas of the building.

 

If everybody pays for what they use, consumption has historically gone down. Is this co-op board doing other things to enhance savings?

Yes. Initially, the scope of the project was just to install those residential submeters to see how much each apartment was using and then charge the residents back for their actual electricity consumption. As I mentioned, because of the increased usage throughout the building, there is also a need to uncover where that electricity was being consumed. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority offers funding that covers 30% of the cost if you install a Real Time Energy Management system, or RTEM. That isn't just tenant submetering; it includes the metering of common area loads, both electric and natural gas. So we’re able to do the project within the initial budget because that RTEM program covers 30% of the hardware and installation costs.

 

This Real Time Energy Management program allows you to drill down and find out exactly where energy is going, what time of day and how much of it is being used. Do I understand that correctly?

Yeah, that's absolutely correct. By installing meters on individual pieces of equipment – pumps, motors, elevators, or in gyms, pool areas and other common elements – you can understand when those things are using electricity or gas, and also how much they're using. And then by getting that information, you're better able to manage that usage and ideally reduce the associated operating costs.

 

A lot of construction projects in town have slowed down or stopped during this pandemic. Are you doing this job, waiting to go, ready to go?

At this time, we're holding off on starting the project. As soon as the moratorium on nonessential construction is lifted, then we'll move forward. This project couldn't have come at a better time, especially now with folks transitioning to working from home and spending more time in their apartments. Installing a submetering system with Real Time Energy Management is really going to be beneficial for London Terrace.

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