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A Queens Condo Finds Energy Savings in Preventive Maintenance

Tom Soter in Green Ideas on March 4, 2014

Winston Tower, 143-51 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing

Energy Savings in Preventive Maintenance
March 4, 2014

The Winston Tower condo, at 143-51 Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, is of relatively recent vintage: Built in 1987, it houses mostly singles or working couples who recognize the condominium is, in Haberman's words, "very, very well located." It is within walking distance of the subway and a short ride to Manhattan. A 24-hour concierge guards the door of the 15-story, 135-unit building.

Three Clues

If its background is fairly typical of a certain type of New York high-rise, its board's philosophy is anything but. The first clue: Although it wasn't yet required, the condo board went ahead anyway and performed its Local Law 87 (LL87) energy audit — required every 10 years to discover problem areas, followed by an energy-efficiency report submitted to the city and then retro-commission the property, i.e., implementing the findings of the audit.

They definitely are very careful

in making sure things are

up to city standards and

up to energy-efficient standards.

The second clue is that the building is in good shape, which iAG's Grumet attributes to the conscientiousness of the board in this self-managed property. Although they have a full-time superintendent and porter, the board members are involved in everything. That includes the care and upkeep of the structure.

"They definitely are very careful in making sure things are up to city standards and up to energy-efficient standards," Grumet notes. "The obvious things — the elevator motors, the boiler, and things like that — are all in good shape and mostly everything has really got a passing grade. There are very few things that they have to change."

And the final clue is the unusual attitude of the board, as articulated by Haberman, the 14-year veteran board member: "We decided it would be prudent to go through the process now [ahead of a city-imposed deadline] to see if are cost savings on whatever it is that they find."

When Boilers Go Bad

That isn't to say they have unlimited financial reserves. By managing the property themselves, they save on third-party management fees, and they employ a part-time accountant as their "back office" to keep on top of bills.

Haberman admits, "It's a balancing act; we are always trying to stay ahead of the problems" by paying for preventive maintenance with a combination of common-charge increases, assessments on the unit-owners, and state grant money. "We would rather do regular tune-ups of the boiler than not because, invariably, boilers break down on Christmas Eve at midnight, and you have to bring in a repairman at double the normal rates because it's an emergency."


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