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“Deadlines are closer than they may appear. For co-op and condo boards that must meet the requirements of New York City’s new Local Law 97, which sets increasingly stringent goals for reducing buildings’ greenhouse-gas emissions in 2024, 2030 and beyond, the time to start their long-range capital planning is now.

… (Mark Chambers, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, says) ‘The first threshold, 2024, is designed to capture the worst-performing 20 percent. The next cap, 2030, is to capture the remainder. The foundation of this effort is carbon reduction.’ He’s referring to carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas. Buildings that fail to meet the goals will be fined $268 for every metric ton of carbon emissions over their limit – which can run into five figures quickly.

‘We don’t want your money,’ Chambers insists. ‘We want your carbon.’

…But what else should your building start doing to ensure that you meet the requirements? What strategy should you employ? And how do you calculate where you stand right now, so that you can set priorities?

Step 1

While a math-savvy board can probably calculate its building’s greenhouse-gas emissions on its own, it might want to leave the job to the same professional who calculates annual energy benchmarking for Local Laws 84 and 133. That’s not only because the formula is complicated but also because it uses the benchmarking figures that get entered into the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s database and measurement tool, the Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

Step 2

Now that you know where you stand, Step 2 is to create a strategy. ‘No one measure does it all,’ says Michael Scorrano, an engineer and the founder and managing director of the energy consultancy En-Power Group. ‘It may be a bunch of smaller measures, or it could be capital-improvement projects – maybe it is time to upgrade your heating system. Maybe it is time to look at your ventilation and air-conditioning system.’

…The specific capital-improvement projects that can help reduce your greenhouse-gas emissions will vary from building to building. A typical project, says Scorrano, includes replacing an absorption chiller, a refrigeration unit that converts heat into energy that drives a cooling system, and cogeneration, a natural-gas power plant in your building that generates both heat and electricity. Another project is a boiler replacement.

Step 3

Once you’ve settled on a multiyear capital plan and figured out a general budget, how will you pay for these initiatives?

… Fortunately, the Climate Mobilization Act itself contains provisions to help manage costs. For one, the city ‘may grant an adjustment of the annual building emissions limit’ to buildings under ‘financial hardship,’ as defined by specific metrics of arrears and taxes, or certain other particular circumstances. For another, the law establishes a sustainable-energy loan program used around the country. Called PACE, an acronym for Property Assessed Clean Energy, the program is available to cooperatives, though virtually never to condominiums. It allows boards to get long-term, inexpensive financing to do qualifying types of renovation projects that have a public benefit such as reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

… And remember, these deadlines are closer than they appear. ‘This stuff is real and it’s looming, so boards need to be prepared,’ Scorrano of the En-Power Group says. ‘Start now contemplating what type of measures you can implement over the next 10 years. A lot of this stuff could overlap with capital improvements you’d need to make in the building anyway. Start engaging now so it’s not a panic to get this done last-minute. Be proactive. Anytime you can save energy, you might as well get the benefits as early as you can.'”

 

To read the full article in the September 2019 issue in Habitat Magazine >>>> click here