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Bronx Co-Op Implements Smart Radiator Covers to Cut Carbon Emissions and Energy Costs

Emily Myers in Bricks & Bucks

University Heights

Cozy Subscription

Fordham Hill Oval is the first to take advantage of a no-money-down subscription payment model for the smart radiator covers.(Photo courtesy Kelvin)

Faced with a projected six-figure annual carbon-emissions penalty starting in 2030, the board at Fordham Hill Oval, a 1,130-unit co-op in the University Heights section of the Bronx, is installing thousands of smart radiator covers to cut fines and save on energy costs. What’s more, the co-op is the first to take advantage of a no-money-down subscription payment model for the technology, making it an affordable way for the complex to meet Local Law 97 regulations.

The custom radiator covers, known as Cozys, are simple metal cabinets with an interior duct and fan, designed to trap heat and release it based on individual settings in each unit. Around 2,400 of the latest generation covers are being installed, which the co-op will pay for through a  monthly $15 fee per unit for 15 years. The cost will be offset by the estimated 24% savings in annual energy bills, amounting to more than $170,000.

The subscription payment model has only been available for about six months and is made possible by a $100 million deal between the manufacturer, Kelvin, and ClearGen, part of a portfolio set up by the Blackstone investment management company to fund clean energy projects. “Based on future revenue from projects, ClearGen will fund the entire project upfront,” says Marshall Cox, Kelvin’s CEO and founder. With other capital projects underway at Fordham Hill Oval, including electrical upgrades, facade repairs and the installation of smart building-wide sensor technology, the low-cost subscription offer was well-timed. “That was why board members were convinced it was the way to go,” says board treasurer Blandon Casenave. 

The nine-building co-op has a gas-fired boiler and a metrosteam system, a two-pipe system installed in campus-style post-war apartment complexes. “Steam rises to the top of the building and filters through radiators as it travels down to the bottom of the building in each line,” explains Matthew Isaacs, Kelvin’s vice president of business development. As a result, these types of buildings are often overheated at the top and very cold at the bottom. “The Cozy system will help balance that out all while providing specific room-by-room temperature control to shareholders,” he says.

A feature of the newest Cozy model is a digital screen showing information about room temperature, humidity, ambient light and air quality. “These additional insights allow us to provide valuable system alerts for management and residents,” says Isaacs. Another benefit of the radiator covers is how they slow the building’s steam condensation rate. With the radiators in an insulated environment, steam remains in the system longer before it runs back to the boiler. This means the system doesn’t have to work so hard in winter. 

The board’s decision to pair the radiator covers with building-wide heat sensors, provided by the heating-system management platform Runwise, produces even more savings, because the boiler is getting more accurate data about demand. With the boiler running fewer heating cycles, its useful life is extended. Through these combined efforts, the board is confident it’s not only made a significant dent in the building’s projected carbon emissions penalty, but also made the co-op competitive with new development projects in the area. “There are new buildings going up around us and by upgrading our offering with climate control in the units, we believe we offer real value in our neighborhood,” Casenave says.

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