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The Light Switch: Board Members Talk CFLs, LEDs and Saving $$$

Abigail Nehring in Building Operations on April 9, 2013

The Normandy, 418 Central Park West, Silver Towers

April 9, 2013

CFLs use between one-seventh and one-third of the power that standard incandescents use, but their biggest benefit is that they can be slipped seamlessly into the same fixtures without any added installation costs.

"We're all converting now, so soon every building will have CFLs," comments Ellen Kornfeld, vice president of The Lovett Group and the managing agent of the 88-unit 418 Central Park West. In fact, Kornfeld says, installing the new bulbs has become so simple and straightforward, "the only time I work with a board is if we're doing a building-wide project."

As for LEDs, Ian Shapiro, president and founder of Ithaca, N.Y.-based Taitem Engineering, says he recently began preferring them to CFLs as LD manufacturing improves and brands become more reliable in independent testing. Elevators, corridors, lobbies and other places where lights are on all the time are where most buildings are installing LEDs, he says. One thing to be cautious about, he notes, is the time delay set by the manufacturer. "If the time delay in a motion sensor is 15 or 30 minutes, then depending on the foot traffic, the lights might never go out," he warns.

Watts the Deal

It's not hard for board members like Larry Weinstein of the Silver Towers cond-op in Kew Gardens, Queens, to remember a time when incandescent bulbs were ubiquitous across New York's residential buildings. He was part of an initiative in his more than 420-unit building that installed over 400 fixtures fixtures with energy-efficient bulbs — only 7½ watts each — to illuminate the hallways. "We got a rebate based on the amount of fixtures of between $25,000 and $30,000, which brought our savings close to $60,000," Weinstein says.

Not all buildings have the resources and know-how to take on a large-scale lighting project on their own. Lincoff explains that it wasn't until he attended a conference with the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums that he found the right connections to propose changes in his building. There, he met Lewis Kwit of Energy Investment Systems, who helped his building initiate a comprehensive energy-reduction project, of which lighting has been a key element. "I learned a lot, and not only about energy issues," Lincoff says.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) also offers a program for multifamily buildings to cut their energy costs through a variety of heating and electricity changes.

The Carnegie House co-op at 100 W. 57th Street recently celebrated its successful participation in the NYSERDA program. In early February, residents of Carnegie gathered under several dozen LED lights in the building's lobby and chatted about the changes they've made throughout the building and the savings they've cashed in on.

According to Cameron Bard, a NYSERDA project manager for the building, the reductions in lighting costs alone have already made a significant difference in Carnegie House's overall energy bills.

"Lighting is a high priority because of its cost-effectiveness," says Bard. "Even if it's not always the number-one contributor to energy-reduction goals, its upfront investment to its end-result savings is very high."

 

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