Tag: energy efficiency

EE Solutions Help Carnegie Hall Secure LEED Silver Certification

“My building is just too old, energy upgrades aren’t worth it for me” is no longer an excuse: Carnegie Hall has just secured LEED Silver certification. At almost 125 years of age, this New York icon is a shining example of how every building, new or old, can utilize energy efficiency technology.

In addition to the infrastructure improvements, building automation, low flow plumbing installs, security upgrades, and fire and life safety systems upgrades, the Hall has also tapped into some of its existing architecture for additional boosts. The rooftop now has reflective pavers and plantings, which reduce the building’s carbon footprint. Additionally, the 450 original upper floor windows have been utilized to maximize natural light, reducing the need for additional lighting.

Property Owners Embracing EE Technologies

Building owners are increasingly embracing energy efficiency technologies as a way to improve their bottom line by reducing their energy and operational costs, while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint.

In a recent analysis by Deloitte, the big four firm indicated that building managers’ views on energy generation have matured and “may be past the point of no return” after seeing firsthand the tremendous benefits that installing energy efficiency equipment can have on bottom lines. Of the sampled businesses, 79% view reducing electricity costs as critical to maintaining a “competitive advantage,” and many have instituted formal energy reduction goals. Additionally, cost cutting was cited as a motivation for 59% of respondents, and more than 55% of businesses now generate energy on-site. According to Deloitte, owners are increasingly controlling their own energy eco-systems through instituting better management controls, demand side efficiencies, batteries, and renewable power and cogeneration.

Energy Savings Performance Upgrades

A management decision to install energy efficient equipment is relatively easy to make compared to whether to invest in more costly on-site generation. Reducing energy and operating expenses through energy efficiency upgrades can provide a relatively quick payback. Retrofitting a commercial building with LED lighting for $400,000, for example, could yield a two year payback and save $200,000 a year in operating expenses. Energy efficiency however encompasses a much wider spectrum of options. These include upgrades and replacements of existing and aging facilities such as boilers and chillers, installing control, automation and building management systems, electrical system upgrades, weatherization, advanced HVAC, air handling systems and/or central plants.

Read the rest of this article from the law firm of Sullivan & Worcester, LLP

IMT Case Study Series Demonstrates Value of EE Retrofits

Source: Valuing Energy Efficiency: Beyond the Empire State Building | Institute for Market Transformation

Nearly five years ago the large-scale energy efficiency renovation of the Empire State Building in New York City captured the imagination of both energy efficiency advocates and the building industry.  The $1 billion project was projected to save 38 percent of the iconic building’s energy and $4.4 million in energy costs annually. The first three years of monitoring and verification of the installed energy efficiency measures, however, indicate that the project is already tracking ahead of those targets.

A flagship project that garnered noteworthy attention across the country, the success of the Empire State Building’s energy efficiency retrofit invited others to replicate the significant energy cost savings—which was, in fact, one of the project’s main goals. In the years that have followed, many large-scale energy efficiency retrofits have been completed or are now underway across the U.S., and this market is only expected to grow. Much of the attention around these retrofits, however, has been focused on Class A offices in a central business district, hospitals, and other large public buildings. This could lead some investors and building owners to conclude that energy efficiency retrofits are only economically viable in these building types, given their size, market presence, and access to funding and technical expertise—and that these efforts may not be as worthwhile in other buildings types, which make up the majority of the country’s existing building stock.

Valuing Energy Efficiency, a new package of case studies from the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), breaks down this misconception by examining the financial outlay and impact of energy efficient retrofits on a range of building types across the U.S., to show that building owners do not need a billion dollar budget or a large floorplan to reap all the benefits of energy efficiency. The six buildings presented—including affordable multifamily housing, Class B office buildings, small manufacturing plants, and an old university laboratory—represent the true depth of existing buildings across America.

This summary paper provides an overview of the six projects highilghted in this new case study series.

Access the full series:

Huge Saving on Heating & Cooling Costs with Advanced Energy Efficiency Controls

via PNNL: News – Electricity use slashed with efficiency controls for heating, cooling.
Frances White, PNNL, (509) 375-6904

RICHLAND, Wash. – Commercial buildings could cut their heating and cooling electricity use by an average of 57 percent with advanced energy-efficiency controls, according to a year-long trial of the controls at malls, grocery stores and other buildings across the country. The study demonstrated higher energy savings than what was predicted in earlier computer simulations by the same researchers.

“We’ve long known that heating and cooling are among the biggest energy consumers in buildings, largely because most buildings don’t use sophisticated controls,” said the study’s lead researcher, engineer Srinivas Katipamula of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “But our tests of controls installed at real, working commercial buildings clearly demonstrate how much more energy efficient air-conditioning systems can be.”

This research was supported by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and the Bonneville Power Administration.

Sitting on the roofs of many commercial buildings are shiny metal boxes containing heating, cooling, ventilation and air conditioning (also known as HVAC) units. These are pre-made in a factory and have all their components inside a box, leading the industry to call them “packaged” HVAC units. Another kind of commercial HVAC, called air handling units, have long used sophisticated controls to ensure they work as efficiently as possible. But packaged units are often allowed to run for hours on end, even if they aren’t needed, and receive little maintenance.

Packaged HVAC units consume the same amount of electricity each year as 8 million U.S. residents, or about 2,600 trillion British thermal units of energy. All those ignored and often-inefficient HVAC systems add up, creating higher power bills and contributing to the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Putting an idea to the test

Katipamula and his PNNL colleagues have spent their careers thinking up ways to reduce energy use in buildings. In 2011, they set out to adapt the controls already found in air handling HVAC units for use in packaged rooftop HVAC units. The goal was to enable packaged units to automatically adjust their operations based on conditions inside and outside a building. Using sensors and variable-speed motors, the controls decide when and how fast ventilation fans should run, and if the units can use naturally cold air from the outside instead of mechanically cooling indoor air.

While the PNNL team was evaluating how these controls could work, they learned a few companies were simultaneously and independently in the process of developing such advanced controls. During the summer of 2012, the team installed one of the commercially available control kits on 66 rooftop HVAC units at eight volunteer commercial buildings in Washington state, Ohio, California and Pennsylvania. The buildings included shopping malls, grocery stores, big-box stores and a medical clinic. The installed devices, manufactured by Transformative Wave of Kent, Wash., were chosen because they most closely resembled the advanced controls PNNL had envisioned.

Real energy savings

Katipamula and his colleagues found that, compared to standard operations, the HVAC units using advanced controls cut their energy use by an average of 57 percent. The actual energy savings ranged from 20 to 90 percent. Larger buildings such as malls, which need bigger HVAC units, saved more energy than smaller buildings. And buildings that ran ventilation fans more, such as stores open long hours, tended to save more energy.

Translating the energy savings into dollars saved depended on local power costs. Nationwide, energy costs an average of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, though areas with abundant and inexpensive power supplies often pay less and large cities with greater energy needs generally pay more. When using the national average, researchers found all the field-tested HVAC units would have saved an average of $1,489 annually per unit. The team calculated it would take a building owner three years to recoup the cost of buying and installing advanced controls with that average cost savings. Commercial buildings often have multiple rooftop HVAC units, so actual savings per building would depend on the number of units used.

But the exact payback period depends on several factors. To help building owners weigh the costs, the research team developed a table that lays out which specific combinations of an HVAC unit’s size, the number of hours its fan runs daily and the local energy rate would result in a three-year or less payback period. The team concluded installing advanced controls in smaller units with a capacity of 15 tons or less could achieve a three-year payback in areas where energy costs 12 cents per kilowatt-hour or more, or where sufficient utility incentives were available.

“I’m proud to see the advanced controls my colleagues and I evaluated not only work in the real world, but produce significant energy savings,” Katipamula said. “We hope commercial building owners will be inspired by these tangible savings and install advanced controls in their rooftop HVAC units.”

Building owners interested in upgrading or replacing their HVAC systems can learn more from the Advanced Rooftop Campaign, which was formed by DOE’s Better Building Alliance, ASHRAE (also known as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

REFERENCES: S. Katipamula, W. Wang and M. Vowles, “Improving Operating Efficiency of Packaged Air Conditioners & Heat Pumps,” ASHRAE Journal, March 2014.

W. Wang, S. Katipamula, H. Ngo, R. Underhill, D. Taasevigen and R. Lutes, “Advanced Rooftop Control (ARC) Retrofit: Field-Test Results,” report for DOE, July 2013.


Energize NY Provides First PACE Loan to Affordable Housing in NYS

July 21, 2015

Energize NY™ today announced another milestone achievement in clean energy financing with the completion of the first PACE financing for energy improvements to an affordable housing in NY State. The financing was used to pay for energy efficiency upgrades to an inter-generational home, known as Robson House, in North Salem, NY owned and operated by A-HOME, a not-for-profit based in Pleasantville, NY that rehabilitates, builds and manages affordable rental properties in northern Westchester for older adults, disabled individuals and single-parent families who cannot afford market rate housing. This project involved insulation and air sealing of exterior walls, attic, crawl spaces, and doors.

As result of the upgrades, A-HOME and its residents will reduce their energy bills by 31% annually, and the home will be significantly more comfortable for residents. Like all projects financed by Energize NY, the A-HOME project was cash flow positive on day one, with the energy savings exceeding the cost of the improvements and the financing.

The A-HOME project was even more cost-effective through the use of the $4 million Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) pool made available by Westchester County for energy upgrades to multi-family buildings with low-income tenants and buildings owned by not-for-profits. Utilizing QECBs further reduced the already low interest rate on the financing, making the energy upgrade work even more affordable.

“We are very proud to have partnered with Energize NY’s Westchester Project to provide low cost financing for projects that lower energy costs,” said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. “The A-HOME project is the first of what we hope will be many QECB-funded energy improvement projects which will not only reduce the energy burden on low income residents, but also help not-for-profit building owners better serve their communities.”

Robson House, which was built in the late 1800s and is named for former A-HOME Board President Clark Robson who led a capital campaign that enabled the purchase of the property, is home to senior citizens and single parent families. The residents share the costs of heating, cooling and electric with A-HOME and directly benefit from the energy improvements in dollars saved and increased comfort.

“The energy burden is particularly high for us and our residents as we use over 210,000 gallons of fuel oil annually to heat our properties,” said Debbie Haglund, Executive Director of A-HOME. “We were able to improve the financial well-being and personal comfort of our residents through this project,” she said. “Robson House is the first of our properties to use Energize NY to finance an energy upgrade, but we are planning to upgrade our other properties, where appropriate, since these projects directly reduce our operating costs and improve our bottom line,” explained Haglund. “We can use the saved dollars for things that are important to us our programs and the residents we serve.”

Energize NY makes clean energy improvements affordable and accessible for not-for-profits and commercial building owners in NY State, by offering low-cost, long-term financing for up to the full cost of energy improvements that reduce energy consumption or generate renewable energy. Unlike traditional financing, Energy NY (PACE) financing focuses on the project’s potential for energy savings and is repaid through an annual charge on the property’s tax bill over the financing term. If the property is sold, the energy savings and financing automatically transfers to the new owner.

“It is very exciting to provide the first affordable housing PACE loan in NY State to A-HOME and to incorporate QECBs into our low-cost financing platform,” said Mark Thielking, Executive Director of Energize NY. “Our goal is to help all NY building owners across the state stop wasting energy and use those energy dollars on what matters to them most.”

“We especially appreciate the efforts of County Executive Astorino and the Westchester County Legislature in making QECBs available to further reduce the cost of financing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for multi-family affordable housing buildings and not-for-profits,” Thielking said.

Support for this project from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® (HPwES) program includes an energy assessment, and a 10 percent cash-back incentive for air sealing, and attic and exterior wall insulation. The energy improvements were completed by a participating Building Performance Institute (BPI) Goldstar contractor to help reduce energy waste and decrease energy costs. NYSERDA’s HPwES is a market transformation program that uses a whole-house approach, based on building science, to deliver energy savings and other benefits to owners of single family and qualifying low-rise multi-unit buildings.

The A-HOME financing was partially funded with a line of capital provided to Energize NY by First Niagara Bank, N.A. The energy improvements to A-HOME were made by Healthy Home Energy & Consulting, a nationally certified, full-service home energy audit and energy efficient improvement company located in Bedford Hills, NY.

Energize NY finance is one of several programs offered by Energy Improvement Corporation, a local development corporation owned by municipalities throughout NY State who have made a commitment to improve the energy performance of local buildings. Energize NY works with its members, like North Salem, to transform the market for comprehensive clean energy projects by integrating Energize NY programs with local economic development and community-based sustainability efforts.

Energize NY, http://www.EnergizeNY.org, is a NY State mission-driven local development corporation that works with its member communities and property owners to unlock the energy savings in their buildings, saving money, fuel and greenhouse gas emissions. Energize NY drives demand for clean energy upgrades to existing buildings through community-based marketing and outreach and by providing affordable and accessible project financing.

About PACENow:
PACENow is a non-profit foundation funded advocate for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACENow’s mission is to promote improved energy efficiency in buildings and use of PACE. Our strategy is to be a trusted source for information and resources to a growing coalition of PACE stakeholders that includes local governments, businesses, i

Cypress Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat Overview

The worldwide, patent pending Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat (WPT) delivers DDC-like functionality at a fraction of the time and cost of existing legacy systems. The WPT is installed without the need to change out pneumatic pipes, run wires, replace actuators or disturb tenants. It is not necessary to upgrade entire building at one time; installers may selectively retrofit individual thermostats for incremental benefits.

Cypress Envirosystems (Cypress) delivers high-performance, mixed-signal, programmable solutions that provide customers with rapid time-to-market and exceptional system value. Cypress’ offerings include the PSoC® programmable system-on-chip, USB controllers and general-purpose programmable clocks and memories. Cypress also offers wired and wireless connectivity technologies ranging from its CyFi™ Low-Power RF solution, to West Bridge® and EZ-USB® FX2LP controllers that enhance connectivity and performance in multimedia handsets. Cypress serves numerous markets including consumer, computation, data communications, automotive and industrial.

Conventional retrofits of pneumatic controls to DDC typically cost over $2,500 per zone and causes significant disruption to building tenants. The long investment payback (usually four to seven years) and the need to wait for tenants to vacate mean that most legacy buildings never upgrade despite compelling energy and productivity savings.



The new Cypress WPT accomplishes the same retrofit in less than 20 minutes, for less than 20% of the cost of conventional DDC. This means that retrofits can be performed right away, even while a building is fully occupied, and achieve payback periods of about one year. These are key advantages for stimulus funding eligibility.

The WPT is directly compatible with the majority of legacy pneumatic thermostats from Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Robertshaw, and Siemens. It can seamlessly integrate with modern building automation systems from virtually all major vendors via BACnet/IP. Numerous 3rd party systems integrators have successfully implemented the BACnet link including Emcor, ACCO, Johnson Controls, Siemens, RSD-Total Control, Wolf Mechanical, Syserco and others.

In addition, the system has completed compatibility testing with utility Auto-Demand Response systems, developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, and is being used by California utilities to shed electrical load during peak consumption periods.

According to Dan Ginn, General Manager of RSD-Total Controls, a distributor and installer for the WPT, “In today’s challenging business environment, this technology can be a savior to help us implement projects that are otherwise economically unfeasible.”

“The Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat will help unlock an enormous reservoir of potential energy savings from legacy facilities, including older federal buildings,” said Bien Irace, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Cypress Envirosystems.


  • Integrates into current BMS platforms with standard protocols
  • Installation time is minimal; Building shutdown not required
  • Makes utility programs such as DR more viable


  • Functionality is only as viable as the pneumatic system it is being connected with.

An Evolving View of Energy Management

By George Belich

I have been in this industry a long time and have seen a tremendous evolution of energy management over the years. The pedal is to the metal now with technology, sustainability and education moving along at a rapid pace. So in the grand scheme of things I would like to offer a personal overall perspective how I now see energy management.

At the core of coarse are metering and sensor technologies along with sophisticated control devices. The IoT will allow for more points of data and control that we ever dreamed about 20 years ago. In another 10 to 20 years these points will be accessed by multiple systems and multiple users in real time.

The next logical process to the view are the building management and SCADA systems that interface with these devices in order to maintain an operational balance between cost effective performance and effective human environments. Equipment failure and human intervention will cause this to go out-of-balance at some point in time.

Then we introduce in solar, cogeneration, combine heat and power, wind, fuel cells, battery storage and more into the operations so now there is a different complexity to the situation. These introductions also bring the utility into the picture with policies and market programs such as Demand Response  and Demand Side Management that provide revenue or savings back to the end customers and their operators.
Now comes the data integration part of the process where the control data, metering data, utility billing data, weather data and facility information data such as occupancy, holidays, utility events, product output  and more must come together and provide analytics and actionable items. These systems are many, operate on many platforms and may be specialized in the particularly facility venue such as schools, manufacturing, office buildings and more. This is where the ‘Big Data’ of energy management begins and where the focus of understanding how to get more out of the operations and controls of the facility. And more. Used wisely  this information can help to lower your peak demands, lower your baselines and most of all lower your costs

Now having said all of the above, how can we manage energy without managing the physical assets being monitored and doing the monitoring (ala, meters, sensors and relays). Maintenance systems have been around a while but I am not sure how much they have been used in the energy management process. Preventative and predictive maintenance of a facilities assets can be greatly enhanced with utility data so if there is a process why not use it and if there is not why not put one in place.  Faulty controls, sensors, meters and relays can cost more in the decision making process than ignoring them.

Over the last several years sustainability programs have been evolving to provide corporations more social visibility and overall view of their environmental concerns and performance. This is where the energy data and performance data provide a great deal of input. Not just on the financial side but on the Green House Gas side of the reports. Sustainability provides an additional case for energy management that did not exist several years ago

This summary can run on with much more detail but is intended only to generate some  larger thoughts on energy management. The above drawing is a clear visual of this process and shows a size and scope of what energy management can be. These circles encompass various levels of personnel and skill sets in an organization that all must be engaged to have what could true energy efficiency. How active are you or you want to be in these functional areas?

179D Tax Break for Energy Efficient Buildings

179D Tax Break

Section 179D Tax Deduction of the IRS Code allows federal deductions for the installation of energy efficiencies in real property.

Designed to incentivize sustainable building in the public and private sectors, §179D permits a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for energy-efficient upgrades to both existing buildings and new construction.  Specifically, the possible maximum deduction is $.60 for lighting, $.60 for HVAC systems, and $.60 for building envelope when those systems exceed ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001 by certain percentages.  Typically, the building owner takes the deduction, but in the case of public buildings owned by local, state, or federal governments, the deduction may be allocated to the designer, such as the architect or engineer, that designed the improvements.  Designers must seek certification from third party firms to ensure that their projects qualify for §179D.

As an example, if a lighting system retrofit that cost $100,000 and services 100,000 square feet of commercial space exceeds the ASHRAE 2001 standards by at least 16 and 2/3 % the owner of the system may be eligible for $60,000 in federal tax deductions in the year it was put in service. The remaining $40,000 of expense would be capitalized and deducted over 39 years.

In the same example, if there was a $50,000 rebate or incentive the deduction would be limited to $50,000… their out of pocket cash payment. The additional $10,000 would not be available and the lighting system would be fully depreciated in the year it was put in service.

With its $1.80 per square foot tax deduction, §179D may represent significant savings for building owners and designers of energy-efficient upgrades.  For example, Capital Review Group had one client that received a deduction of over $516,000 for retrofits to its 287,000 square foot auto dealership.  The improvements, which included the installation of a new HVAC system, solar skylights, and LED lights, significantly enhanced both the customer experience and the building owner’s bottom line.  Another CRG client, a large architectural firm, amassed nearly $7,000,000 in deductions over five years after it designed sustainable upgrades for several government buildings.

Please note to take advantage of this tax saving opportunity, the energy efficient systems must have been placed in service between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2014. Also, to claim this deduction there is no need for amending a previous year’s tax filing. Your accounting firm can simply file a Form 3115 – Application For Change In Accounting Method.


For a deeper overview of §179D see the SlideShare below provided by Capital Review Group:

NYC Announces Energy and Water Conservation Program for Multifamily Buildings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                          
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CONTACT: Eric Bederman (HPD): 212-863-5176


New Program Will Assist Owners of Small- to Mid-Sized Buildings with Energy and Water Conservation Upgrades In Exchange for Entering Into an Affordable Housing Agreement

Participating Owners Could See an Average Reduction in Utility Costs of 10% or More Annually

New York, NY – Building on Mayor de Blasio’s comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient city, “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been and New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Gary Rodney announced the new Green Housing Preservation Program to assist owners of small- to mid-sized multifamily properties across the city in undertaking energy efficiency and water conservation improvements as well as moderate rehabilitation to improve building conditions, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and preserve affordability. Based on a typical scope of work, it’s anticipated that owners may see more than a 10% annual reduction in utility costs. The new program and related green preservation initiatives are funded with $45 million in city capital provided by the Mayor in HPD’s fiscal year 2016 budget. Additionally, the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC) created a fund that will be available to participating owners who need assistance in financing the predevelopment requirements necessary for participation in the program.

The new program also advances the goals of the Mayor’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough, 10-Year Housing Plan, to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing,and One City: Built to Last, the City’s ten year plan led by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to reduce GHG emissions from buildings by 30% below 2005 levels by 2025 in order to be on the pathway to an 80 percent reduction in citywide GHG emissions by 2050.

“Rising utility costs have played a significant role in the crisis of affordability threatening our city,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “Many small building owners can’t afford the energy efficient upgrades that would provide long-term savings to help reduce the cost of utilities, which often are passed on to tenants. Our new Green Housing Preservation Program helps to remove these barriers, offering owners the financial resources and technical expertise needed to make their properties more sustainable and energy efficient. I thank HDC, NYCEEC, and all of our partners for their valuable support and ongoing efforts to create a more affordable and sustainable city.”

“The Green Housing Preservation Program delivers on one of the key commitments of the Mayor’sHousing New York plan,” said HDC President Gary Rodney. “The city recognizes that the rising cost of utilities is a threat to the long-term viability of affordable housing. Undertaking retrofits to save energy and water can help owners control operating costs, maintain affordability, and achieve broader sustainability and health goals.  We are grateful to HPD, NYCEEC, and our non-profit partners for their leadership in helping us to create not just a more sustainable city, but also a more equitable one.”

“The New York City Council is committed to building a city resilient in the face of climate change and advocating bold policies that tackle this global issue head-on,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council Speaker – District 8 (D). “New York City is a leader in worldwide efforts to combat climate change, and every New Yorker can play a part in ensuring a greener, sustainable future. The Green Housing Preservation Program connects property owners with the tools and resources they need to make buildings energy-efficient and environmentally-conscious—all while preserving the affordable housing our city so desperately needs.”

“Green development has been a hallmark of my administration since day one. From requiring developers who seek capital funding from my office to build in environmentally-friendly ways, to the creation of our Bronx Green Development Fund–which will leverage public and private funds to retrofit older housing stock–we have always placed a heavy focus on cleaner, green development. This new program will not only help make our city cleaner, it will help keep rents affordable as well. A cleaner environment makes for a healthier, happier city, and I thank Mayor de Blasio, HPD and HDC for continuing to show their commitment to a greener New York through this new program,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

The Green Housing Preservation Program was designed to address the triple threat of rising building costs, a growing affordable housing crisis, and the looming risks of climate change. Many owners of small- to mid-sized buildings are being squeezed by steadily rising energy and water costs and would benefit from weatherization and other efficiencies that would aid in reducing those expenses. Unfortunately, these owners may find it difficult to secure the financing necessary to perform the needed improvements.

Utility costs account for roughly 25% of the average operating budget of a rent-stabilized building – costs that have exacerbated the affordability crisis for both tenants and owners.  As rents and utility costs have outstripped wages, the demand for affordable housing has grown dramatically, along with the number of New Yorkers suffering from rent burdens: 56% of households are rent burdened and paying more than a third of their income in rent and utilities. In addition, three in ten households are severely rent burdened, paying half or more of their income to rent and utilities.  At the same time, almost 75% of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings and 35% of emissions come from residential buildings.  New York City is still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This alone is powerful evidence of the risks posed by climate change and how high the stakes are for New Yorkers and for the world.

The Green Housing Preservation Program aims to achieve the following goals:

  • Ensure the physical and financial viability of properties by controlling operating expenses;
  • Preserve affordability by providing low- and no- cost financing in exchange for a commitment to affordability; and
  • Reduce emissions by encouraging buildings to undertake improvements.

Buildings across the five boroughs that have at least 5 units and fewer than 50,000 square feet (approximately 50 units) are eligible for the program. The Green Housing Preservation Program provides 0% interest, evaporating loans for energy efficiency and water conservation improvements and 1% repayable loans to help cover the costs of moderate rehabilitation improvements that go beyond the energy efficiency measures.  The new program is projected to assist 475 units in the first year, and approximately 3,780 units will undergo moderate rehabilitation.

Examples of energy efficiency improvements include insulation, efficient light fixtures, weatherproofing windows, and the installation of efficiency controls on systems such as boilers and low-flow water fixtures.  Based on a typical scope of work, buildings may reduce utility costs by approximately 10% or more annually. This represents an average savings of approximately $1,500 for a 10-unit building and $3,000 for a 20-unit building.

In exchange for city financial assistance, properties will be required to enter a regulatory agreement to keep rents affordable.  Additionally, the improvements will result in lower overall utility costs, which will further safeguard affordability and promote the sustainability of the City’s housing stock.

HPD will provide direct financing, and encourage owners to leverage private financing and other incentive programs where feasible. This could include utility incentive and public programs for energy efficiency, and private funding through the Program’s participating lenders – the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), Enterprise Community Partners, the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), and the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC).

“We are pleased to support the City’s sustainability and housing goals and partner with HPD on this exciting new initiative,” said Susan Leeds, CEO of NYCEEC.  “Our predevelopment loan fund advances NYCEEC’s mission of providing financing solutions for projects that save money, conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gases.   With a NYCEEC predevelopment loan, all eligible building owners can now overcome upfront cost barriers, and realize the benefits of the Green Housing Preservation Program.”

“The Green Preservation Program will make energy efficient upgrades within reach of small landlords by providing low- to no-interest financing and technical expertise to assess their needs. In return, the City will help improve housing quality for the long term, keep rents stable and more affordable, and make progress on its goal to reduce carbon emissions,” said Rafael E. Cestero, President and CEO, The Community Preservation Corporation. “With two thirds of New York’s 2.1 million rental apartments in buildings with 50 units or less, small multifamily buildings are an important source of housing. We commend Mayor de Blasio, HPD Commissioner Been, and HDC President Rodney on preserving these buildings to ensure they continue to be an affordable resource for generations of New Yorkers to come.”

“Given the escalating price of energy and water, the Green Housing Preservation Program provides a model of collaboration among government, building science experts and affordable housing providers. This is an important step forward in connecting financial and environmental sustainability in affordable housing,” said Sam Marks, Executive Director of LISC New York City.

“This public-private partnership will not only provide innovative financial tools to help transform affordable housing developments into energy-efficient and water-efficient homes, but is also a bold solution that will serve as a catalyst for health, economic, and environmental benefits to low-income New Yorkers,” said Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. “Investing in green housing is an investment in the future of New York City by helping to reduce high asthma rates, generate energy savings, create new jobs, and position New York as a leader in the fight against climate change. We commend the City, HPD, and HDC for their continued dedication to green housing solutions.”

“The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) applauds Mayor de Blasio, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York City Housing Development Corporation on launching the Green Housing Preservation Program,” said Kirsten Shaw, LIIF’s Director, Eastern Region. “The program enables LIIF to use its capital to address both housing affordability and sustainability in New York – issues that are core to our mission of creating healthy families and communities.

In conjunction with the launch of the Green Housing Preservation Program, HDC and HPD released a rolling Green Physical Needs Assessment (GPNA) Request for Qualifications (RFQ). The RFQ aims to identify a roster of qualified firms that will perform a comprehensive assessment of buildings’ capital improvement and energy needs. The initial ten firms for the pre-qualified listwere released in early May.

This assessment tool will help simplify the process for building owners and consolidate the number of steps they need to undertake to secure public or private financing.  Qualified firms will provide building owners in the program with technical assistance in addition to the comprehensive assessment. This will include scope of work development, help navigating the bid process, taking the project through construction, training managers and on-site staff in order to maintain improvements, and issuing a follow up report. This support can help owners achieve maximum energy efficiency savings.

In addition to supporting individual building owners assisted through the Green Housing Preservation Program, the GPNA guidelines and qualified firms will be used across all HPD and HDC preservation finance programs. It is projected that this will provide comprehensive assessments for up to 12,000 units a year. The agencies will also institute a benchmarking process to measure the success of the improvements in reducing energy consumption.

Thanks to the support from NYCEEC, the costs associated with necessary predevelopment work will not be a burden to building owners who are interested in participating in the Green Housing Preservation Program. The NYCEEC fund will provide favorable financing terms to help with predevelopment requirements that may include the GPNA, property appraisals and surveys, lead and asbestos testing, engineering studies and other activities as required by HPD or private construction and permanent lenders.

The new green program builds on existing HPD and HDC tools and initiatives that are already in place. Starting in 2011, all new construction and substantial rehabilitation projects that received funding from HPD have been required to comply with Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, the only comprehensive green building framework designed for affordable housing. This uniform green building policy provides proven, cost-effective standards for creating healthy and energy-efficient homes, and helps to ensure that the City’s investment in affordable housing goes towards buildings that achieve deeper affordability through lowered utility bills and healthier living environments.  HDC’s Program for Energy Retrofit Loans (PERL) is a partnership between HDC and NYCEEC to finance energy efficiency improvements for eligible projects. NYCEEC’s other programs also provide financing for these types of improvements.

For more information, visit http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/developers/private-site-preservation.page

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)
HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs, and enforcement of housing quality standards. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough Ten-Year Plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable units for New Yorkers at the very lowest incomes to those in the middle class. For more information visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/nychpd and www.twitter.com/nychousing

The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC)
HDC is the nation’s largest municipal housing finance agency and is charged with helping to finance the creation or preservation of affordable housing under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan. Since 2003, HDC has financed more than 120,000 housing units using over $13.7 billion in bonds, and provided in excess of $1.6 billion in subsidy from corporate reserves. HDC has been the #1 issuer in the nation of mortgage revenue bonds for affordable multi-family housing in each of the last three years on Thomson Reuters’ annual list of multi-family bond issuers. HDC again achieved this distinction despite issuing bonds for only one city, compared to the statewide jurisdictions of the other ranked agencies.  For additional information, visit: www.nychdc.com.