New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community
The Habitat Article Archive includes the full text of all of our magazine articles dating back to 2002. You can view 3 articles per month for free. (Repeat views of the same article don’t count against your monthly limit.)
To read more, purchase a print subscription or a daily or yearly All-Access Pass and get unlimited access to the Archive. Prices start at 1.95.
Already a subscriber? Sign In to access!
To read this article and gain unlimited access to the Habitat Article Archive, which includes the full text of all our magazine articles dating back to 2002, purchase an All-Access Pass.
Already a subscriber? Sign In to access!
Don't let deadlines for energy retrofits intimidate your board.
We’re not afraid to admit it. Our condo board is scared witless about the approaching deadlines under the Climate Mobilization Act. This situation is way more complex and momentous than what we’re used to dealing with. It’s probably going to cost a fortune whether we try to meet the requirements or choose to pay the fines. And we dread explaining this to unit-owners. We know we should get moving, but we haven’t. It just seems too daunting. How can we get over our fears and onto a path of action?
—Frozen in Flatbush
In the face of a daunting challenge, many forces can make you freeze up. Two that might loom large for you are uncertainty and the belief that you won’t be able to solve a problem this huge and complex. I advise you to start chipping away at both of those forces now. Try these steps:
Recognize that you’re not alone. Most of your co-op and condo board peers in New York City are facing the same problem. But the fact that so many buildings have to act has an upside: A lot of people out there can help.
Hire a professional ASAP. Unless this is your specific area of expertise, you should engage a professional. (And even if it is your area, you will benefit from having outside expertise.) Do this now. If you wait, you might find that your first choices are unavailable.
Get a clear picture of your situation. Don’t speculate about the size of your problem or what it will take to solve it. End that uncertainty now by having a professional assess your situation. Partner with them to create a strategy and a detailed project plan that are appropriate for your building and its goals.
Break it down. Your plan will probably or most likely include a very long list of tasks. Many of these will be interdependent and may require coordinating a lot of moving parts. But there will also be some standalone tasks that you can start doing right now. Work on them as soon as you can. Accomplishing tasks — however small — can boost your confidence.
Divide and conquer. Keep your building on a steady course by setting up a “climate committee” of board members, your managing agent and your resident manager if you have one. Non-committee members can focus on normal board work. Note: This may be a good time to postpone or outsource nonessential projects.
Find a buddy or support group. Can you team up with a neighboring building to share ideas, learn from each others’ experiences or at least commiserate? Can your managing agent hook you up with a building similar to yours? Or can you find other buildings that might even share the cost of a professional consultant?
Start talking to your unit-owners. Don’t wait until you have all the answers. Start by briefly outlining the overall issues, listing what you do and don’t know right now and describing current actions and status. Let them know you’ll keep them posted — and then do so.
Yes, the Climate Mobilization Act feels overwhelming. But a few basic steps can reduce uncertainty and help you gain the confidence you need to get moving now.
Mary Federico serves on the board of her 240-unit Upper West Side condominium. Through her consultancy, Organizational Behavior Strategies, she helps leaders use behavioral science to improve their organizations.
Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments
Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise
Got elected? Are you on your co-op/condo board?
Then don’t miss a beat! Stories you can use to make your building better, keep it out of trouble, save money, enhance market value, and make your board life a whole lot easier!