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News & Notes

Greening Your Building

Written by Angela Rivera for Brennan Marketing & Sales.

Why aren’t we taking advantage of the resources provided in NYC?
As a homeowner and landlord I am constantly trying to address ways to minimize overall cost and increase my building’s sustainability. In NYC there are programs provided by the city to help owners implement green energy resources but many of these programs are not operating at capacity. In an attempt to take advantage of some of the programs NYC provides to its residents, my 4-unit Co-op participated in an Energy Audit in 2005 and my 16-unit Condo Association participated in an Energy Assistance program in 2013. In both cases the initiatives were met with mixed reviews and hesitation. The two main obstacles were the total cost and a clear understanding of the program. Because of this, neither building was able to follow through with the energy saving improvements.

After digging a bit more into why owners do not take advantage of Greening their buildings I came across an article from the Citizens Housing Planning Council “All Green Building’s Great and Small”  The article provides 10 industry recommendations that would remove many of the barriers preventing owners from taking advantage of these resources. So I asked myself, Could these 10 recommendations have helped us follow through? To find the answers I focused on 3 out of the 10 recommendations that pertain more to the Co-op and Condo issues.

1. Consolidate and clarify information to make it easier for owners to access available programs by providing a “one-stop shop” for services.

• One website for ALL City programs offering green energy programs and incentives
• Clear Step by Step Guide for entire program process
• A city-wide information initiative at public library’s providing printed materials and program information specialists to talk to about the programs

2. Help owners and managers to integrate good green practices into their existing management practices by providing training for maintenance staff and providing them with easy to use templates as they carry out their routine work.

• Print-outs similar to the recycle pamphlet that provide steps for smaller green management practices
• Short training programs buildings can sign up for to learn exactly how to green their particular building
• More tax break initiatives for maintaining a green building over a certain period of time

3. Design programs that are tailored to the subsectors within the multi-family sector. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work for a market that includes a diversity of owners and building types, and which splits incentives between owners and renters.

• Tailored programs can increase the chances of owners following through with the programs
• Owners and tenants can work together and mutually benefit from the program
• Include an assigned program manager for that building that all owners can reach out to

Although we weren’t able to take advantage of the programs at the time, the Condo Association decided to give it another try and are half way through the process once again! I will be following up with you about what we are doing differently and hopefully the energy saving improvements we make to the building. As in many things in life you may have to try several times before you succeed.

If you are interested in home energy efficiency programs, here are some helpful resources:
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
EmPower New York
Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star



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