Residential property owners across the city are seeking out ways to reduce their buildings utility costs and carbon footprints. Between energy efficient appliances, insulation, and solar, owners can patch together solutions, ultimately saving money in the long run. While the costs of new systems and installation may appear daunting at first there are ways to make these upgrades affordable through financing and city, state and federal incentives. Before jumping to any conclusions, it is imperative to conduct energy audits on your building(s). This will give you an idea of what solutions are most feasible based on energy consumption and building characteristics. The most common solutions will be composed of installing new efficient HVAC systems, solar panels and improving insulation.
Cold climate air source heat pumps are a relatively new technology and an integral component to the city’s carbon reduction plan. A study done by NYSERDA in 2019, estimated that 100,00 new residential heat pump systems would have to be installed by 2025 to stay on target with LL97 benchmarking. While heat pump tech has been around for some time, they have been subject to primarily southern regional use due to climate. Some northern building owners have been using geothermal heat pump for years but not every building has the luxury of space that those systems require. Upgrades in the technology have now made air source heat pumps compatible in the North. Similar to an A/C, air source heat pumps pull outside air into the home, manipulating the pressure of the refrigerant, either heating or cooling the air circulating through. Because the system is electric, your buildings footprint will decrease as it will no longer be dependent on oil or fuel. It is important to note that although your HVAC system is electrified, the electricity it pulls will not eliminate your footprint completely. Most of New York City’s energy is pulled from carbon emitting sources and the city currently lacks the infrastructure to bring in renewable energy produced upstate (NYISO). However, your gas bill will be eliminated and you should expect a rise in your electricity bill. Installation will be expensive if your building currently uses old heating tech like hot-water radiator systems. For a full list of heat pump possibilities and their specific considerations visit NYSERDA’s Heating & Cooling systems page here.
Unlike cold climate heat pumps, solar technology has been around for a long time. Because the technology is consistently improving and proven to work, solar tech is becoming an increasingly reliable source of energy independence for home owners across the city. As the cost of energy continues to rise in the state, a home’s ability to offset energy spikes and variability is crucial for saving money on utility costs. To understand what personal solar production could look like for you, check out EcoWatch’s New York Solar: What to Expect 2022.When it comes to solar not every home is equal. From financing to sunlight exposure and roof space/access solar can be a viable solution for some homes but not all. Luckily community solar projects are becoming more accessible giving all homes the potential to reap the benefits of clean energy. To learn about community solar projects in your area and how to apply visit NYSERDA’s NY-Sun program.
Lastly, insulating your home properly and updating your building envelope is the most cost-effective investment you can make. Without tearing apart your units you can save money by controlling the amount of air leaking outside. Air leaks are costly, contributing to higher than needed utility costs and tenant discomfort. To view NYSERDA’s Comfort Home Program click here.
There are many benefits to living in a well managed condo or co-op in New York City. You may find a beautiful apartment with lots of light in a great neighborhood. It’s often more affordable than a building that stands alone in the same neighborhood while offering the same conveniences and culture one loves about this city.
But, there are also challenges to living in a condo or co-op and they are increasing. For example, boards and management have recently faced the COVID-19 public health crisis and the challenges with this specific to residential community living. Hopefully we are emerging from this crisis but the impact it has left is significant.
Elected officials are looking for increased revenues to offset the financial losses caused by COVID-19. Property taxes are being increased at the same time that tax abatements are ending. Also, the state is setting salary levels for employees in buildings where fixed income residents are hit hard by every common charge increase. Utility costs are skyrocketing and the city has imposed mandates that will require most condo’s and co-op’s to retrofit their entire mechanical set up in the next several years in order to avoid significant fines as part of the Climate Mobilization Act.
These challanges are great. But, they also offer opportunities for those buidlings that plan and act in advance to set themselves apart. There are branding and marketing issues in play. 75% of buildings in the city receive a C or D rating for energy efficiency. Those who can improve thier energy efficiency and their rating stand primed to take advantage of a higher maket value. Not only does an energy efficiency rating of an A or B carry a certain “green living” cache the savvy real estate agent and buyer will soon recognize more frequently. It is a sign that common charges, as impacted by utility costs, will be lower over the long term and there will be more money available for other amenities and capital improvements.
In 2019, the DiBlasio administration passed Local Law 97 under the Climate Mobilization Act. In attempt to drastically reduce carbon emissions in the city, LL97 is designed to place emission limits and benchmarking on buildings greater than 25,000 sf. With the city’s ambitious plans to reduce citywide carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, building owners now must either choose to retrofit their buildings to make them more efficient, trade emission rights to meet caps or pay hefty fines.
New technologies, companies, incentives and costs makeup a whirlwind of complexities that factor into a manager’s current approach. Managers should immediately asses the financial feasibility of less intrusive efficiency procedures, such as green roofs or solar. Any amount of work that can be done to save now can go a long way or even save time as the greater 20% of emitters will be the first subject to penalties if they fail to meet standards or trade in phase 1 of the rollout in 2024.
For a comprehensive breakdown on how this law will directly affect various property types you can visit Urban Green’s FAQ page here. Property managers around the city must insulate and electrify outdated and inefficient heating systems or closely monitor emission trading policy news as it slowly comes out. The city’s carbon trading program has yet to be solidified.
With glaring costs and installation fees, intrusive work like electrifying your buildings HVAC system may simply not be financially feasible for most building owners. Luckily new technologies like cold climate heat pumps are becoming more efficient and affordable, and there is help. Startups at the forefront of this emerging market are supplying intermediary services bundling the entire service from start to finish, taking away the pain of contracting different engineers, installation crews, technologies and financing. While initial costs may seem steep financing these projects most likely will generate savings in the long run.
Both the city and the state recognize the financial hardship LL97 places on property owners and managers. For both insulation and heating and cooling the city and state are providing incentives for buildings hoping to improve their energy envelope. NYSERDA has partnered with energy companies, to make obtaining efficiency projects such as green roofs, on site solar systems and heat pumps more affordable. it is imperative to keep up to date with NYSERDA and their offerings. Neighborhoods and areas around the city are continually subject to different and extra offerings based on collective energy demand in the area.