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A Fifth Avenue Co-op Sees the (Energy-Efficient) Light

Abigail Nehring, with additional reporting by Kathryn Farrell in Bricks & Bucks on August 28, 2013

51 Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village, Manhattan

51 Fifth Avenue

51 Fifth Avenue recently underwent a lighting upgrade.

Aug. 28, 2013

Needless to say, the monthly electricity bill was an eyesore. With lights on around the clock in the lobby, corridors, elevators and staircases, the super felt he should take a serious look at what the building could do to eliminate unnecessary electricity costs.

Lightening the Load

At the time, Papp was taking a course in energy efficiency offered through his union. After consulting the building's managing agent, Papp and the building staff decided to replace incandescent bulbs with more cost-effective varieties throughout the building, and to install dim-down lighting — an umbrella term for controls that lower and raise light levels as activity is detected — in the staircases and motion detectors in the backyard. He consulted with Hank Wisner, a sales representative with National Maintenance Supplies, who suggested the dim-down lighting and shipped samples to test out.

According to Papp, installing dim-down lights in the building's two staircases has been one of the smartest decisions the building board has approved. Previously, the staircases had two separate fixtures: an emergency light and a regular one. As part of the project, the building staff replaced both with a single dim-down light on each floor. Placing a photocell next to a window allows a light to turn off during the day when natural light is sufficient. Additionally, timers and motion-sensors ensure that lights only turn on when someone is in the room.

Slashing the Bill

Ellen Kornfeld, the building’s managing agent and a vice president at The Lovett Group, notes that building staff completed the installation in two phases. Although the board was not actively involved in the project, getting them to sign off on it was easy. The cost of each individual dim-down fixture — which also serve as emergency lighting — plus battery backup was nearly $300, leading to a total project cost of over $8,000. Con Ed offered a rebate of $75 per fixture.

The old-style bulbs are almost completely phased out of 51 Fifth’s public spaces now, and the building is seeing dramatic changes in its monthly electricity bill. “The savings are mind-boggling,” says Papp. “The lighting lasts longer, it costs less money, and we save electricity.”


Project start date: September 2012

Project completion date: July 2013


  • replacing incandescent bulbs with cost-effective fixtures throughout building
  • installing dim-down lighting in the staircases
  • installing motion detectors in the backyard




Zoltan Papp, building superintendent

Ellen Kornfeld, vice president of the Lovett Group and managing agent

Hank Wisner, sales representative, National Maintenance Supplies


Estimated market value: $21,791,000

Assessed value: $9,032,310


07/17/2013 $502,000

06/18/2013 $900,000

02/21/2013 $2,900,000

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