“As the COVID-19 pandemic descended upon the country at the end of last winter, notably taking hold initially and most prominently in New York City’s outer boroughs, which include some of the most diverse ZIP codes in the United States, it quickly became apparent that communities of color were being impacted more heavily and more severely by the pandemic. Part of this outsized impact can be traced to the disproportionate rates of underlying health conditions that exist in such communities, which are in turn a factor of decades of energy policy and infrastructure that placed polluting power plants and toxic waste sites at the doorstep (sometimes literally) of residents.

But now such communities are looking to reverse these devastating trends by prioritizing energy efficiency and public power in their neighborhoods and buildings. In the Bronx, non-profit groups like The Point CDC and South Bronx Unite are flipping the script on traditional energy sources, supply, and even ownership, advocating for and organizing alternatives that produce cleaner, more affordable energy and put the control in the hands of the people who use it. And Bronx co-ops and other multifamily communities are going back to their roots in collective ownership and advocacy by converting to green power sources and infrastructure and sharing resources and information.

Sherman Terrace Cooperative

At 1010 Sherman Avenue, in the heart of the Grand Concourse in the South Bronx, Sherman Terrace Cooperative (STC) is a 67-unit co-op building developed in 1957 that is now ‘dispelling the wealth illusion associated with energy conservation and on-site energy generation by taking responsibility for its environmental impact and making strategic investments in clean energy choices for infrastructure and in building operations,’ according to current board president Derek Jones.

With a majority minority shareholder population since its inception, STC is currently home to a demographic of 74.62% Black, 14.93% Hispanic, 5.97% White, 2.98% Asian, and 1.49% Indian residents, 37% of whom are retired, and nearly 100% of whom are characterized as low to moderate income. The co-op’s seven-member board has set intentions for the building to be ‘a positive, proactive, conscious example for the surrounding community,’ says Jones, who spearheaded the board’s transition to a more progressive-minded governing body focused on lasting and impactful capital improvements and community engagement.

Inspired by the alternative energy initiatives undertaken by the adjacent Melrose neighborhood—the only Certified Gold LEED district in the state of New York, says Jones—STC has taken on several projects recently to reduce its carbon footprint and become a model for on-site energy production and sustainability. After engaging energy consultant EN-POWER GROUP, the co-op retrofitted all common area lighting to LEDs and participated in Con Edison’s Multifamily LED Lighting Incentive Program that allowed shareholders to swap out conventional light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs in their units.

Additionally, STC improved the internal building air quality in common areas, as well as in 24 individual apartments, by completing high-pressure, negative-suction cleaning of all air ducts with commercial-grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums. This project was undertaken before the threat of COVID-19 even surfaced, intended as a preventive measure for the already prevalent respiratory illnesses and allergies that are commonly caused and spread by inefficient or faulty duct systems, where harmful microorganisms, fungi, and viruses can grow. Having the improved duct system during the coronavirus pandemic has surely benefitted both residents and staff of the building.

Recently completed at STC is the installation of a new boiler with an updated Real Time Energy Management (RTEM) system that can control the heat based on indoor temperatures and will provide real-time alerts and analytics to building management. The system also allows for remote control of the boiler from phone, computer, or management system. The burner will function on both gas (primarily) and oil (in case of emergency), reducing the overall building CO2 output. Smart temperature sensors have been placed in more than one-third of the residential units to more accurately monitor whole-building temperatures. A separate 750,000 BTU water heater is also being installed that will result in greater water efficiency and energy savings, especially after wireless Intech 21 Power Meters PM-2104 are installed in each apartment, creating an opportunity for shareholders to become more aware of their personal energy usage.

A recent roof re-insulation and sealant membrane provide energy efficiency by keeping the building cooler in summer and retaining heat in the winter; the co-op is capitalizing on the new roof’s 25-year warranty by adding 301 LG solar photovoltaic modules of 350 watts DC each and SolarEdge inverters with optimizers for the panels. The system is expected to have an estimated annual production of 120,167 kWh AC and complies with the mandates of Local Laws 92 and 94 that require all buildings undergoing roof renovations or replacements, in addition to all new buildings, to include a solar photovoltaic system, a green roof system, or a combination of both.

According to Jones, STC’s boiler conversion has already yielded substantial savings in fuel costs for the co-op. The first four months of 2021 alone saw a $71,892.36 savings compared to the same period in 2020. The co-op has additionally earned $8,407.24 in credits from the solar installation between December 2020 and April 2021.”


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In addition to the lighting upgrades, EN-POWER also provided the engineering design for the new boiler and worked on a sub-metering project for Sherman Terrace Cooperative. Sub-metering can be applied to many components of the building industry, from equipment performance and energy usage to sub-metering individual tenants. The goal is to monitor and visualize consumption, making it a powerful tool for real-time energy and power management and promoting behavioral changes. In New York State, metering is required for a building to participate in a demand response program or install a cogeneration system, and sub-metering is required for compliance with New York City’s Local Law 88.