Jennifer V. Hughes in Board Operations on March 19, 2013
In conjunction with the Multifamily Performance Program (MPP) offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the co-op would be to install a separate domestic gas-fired hot water heater. Currently, the building provides residents with hot water for things like showers and dishwashing by utilizing steam-coilers in the boiler. "That requires the boiler to be operating year round, even in the summer," says Michael Scorrano, managing director at the energy-services company EN-POWER GROUP, which performed work at 110 Riverside Drive.
Using What's Already There
There is a small existing Con Ed line that provides natural gas for in-unit stoves and the building's dryers. Scorrano says it is possible that the line could accommodate a hot water heater, but they are still checking with Con Ed. The savings would be dramatic.
"It would cost about $100,000 and it has a 3.6-year ROI [return on investment]," Scorrano says. An upgraded system would mean the building would use 17 percent less energy annually, easily allowing the co-op to meet its MPP goal.
One project the co-op did tackle was to modernize its elevator system — a project that had begun before the Local Law 87 energy audit and the MPP process. The new elevator system has so-called "regen drives" that use the energy created by the elevators' motion to feed power back into the system. The elevator project, which cost about $1 million, will be paid over a four-year period and comes with a $21,000 annual energy savings.
Co-op board member Carl Valentine says the initial year's cost was paid by a shareholder assessment. Subsequent payments will be made from the board's operating resources.
Another project that helped the co-op meet its NYSERDA goal was a lighting upgrade. Motion sensor bi-level lighting was installed in service stairwells and older fluorescent bulbs were swapped out for better ones. The total project cost was $7,500 and carries a $1,600 savings.
Valentine says the board is also considering options that did not even arise in the initial energy audit. The part of the co-op that faces Riverside Drive is generally much colder than the interior areas, and because of the way the heating zones are configured, when thermostats are triggered in colder areas, they also pour more heat into apartments that are already warm. "It's very inefficient," he says.
To help address that, the co-op is looking to a neighboring building that is trying out a multi-zoned system that would eliminate that inefficiency. The board can't even ballpark the costs yet, preferring to see how it works nearby, but it is an option on the table.
Opportunity, Not Burden
Valentine says his co-op board sees Local Law 87 not as another burden imposed on them by New York City but rather as an impetus to do the types of things that will save money in the long run. He points out how one resident switched his apartment light bulbs to energy-saving models and posted building-wide how much he personally saved on his electric bill.
"It's really about changing how you think about using energy, just as much as changing the way our boiler works," Valentine says. "Changing people's thought process is a big deal. It's hard to do. It can take a while."
llustration by Danny Hellman
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