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  • More Than Hope | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    the meantime building professionals debate the energy efficiency and climate change fighting contribution of LEED certified buildings A recent multi part article in New Solutions argues that that truly climate friendly buildings do cost more to construct but over time will save money by using much less energy to operate As well other experts continue to write about the importance of measuring and verifying the energy efficiency of buildings that call themselves green Some of these buildings are not making the grade For example a federal building in Youngstown Ohio is proving to be an energy hog Had it been a privately owned building such information might not have come to light and now the US Green Building Council is revising LEED ratings to require all new buildings to provide several years worth of energy and water bills But as one knowledgeable wag said The plaque should be installed with removable screws o nce the plaque is glued on there s no incentive to do better Despite setbacks and reservations or perhaps because of them the best design construction and operations practices are rapidly evolving while approaches to energy auditing and performance standards are also the subject of intense professional and regulatory interest After all what get s measured gets managed and today locally and nationally the market for energy efficient building is on the rise The Empire State Building and the Willis Tower are just two of the most iconic older buildings that are going green Mayor Bloomberg s pending legislation would require property owners to amass and file data on their buildings energy efficiency to create a benchmark More complex audits would also be required The great benefit of these efforts would be to provide a body of information based on experience not theory to owners developers banks insurers and tenants about the real value of high performance buildings To go a step further than the current bills go New York City should have a law that requires owners whose buildings fall into the bottom quartile of energy efficiency to develop plans to upgrade their performance As is the case with virtually any law budgeting implementation and enforcement will prove to be the strong links or the weak ones in meeting intended goals Whatever the specifics of the final legislation the NYC Department of Buildings will be responsible for its success Public attention must remain keen to see if the Department will have enough plan reviewers trained in the specifics of the Energy Efficiency Code and a field staff able to carry out new responsibilities on top of such urgent obligations like heat lead paint or elevator safety inspections And that s just the half of it As I ve written before based on the draft legislation circulated last spring the specific penalties for violating the provisions of the deep green quartet are hard to figure out Other provisions of the Building Code require the signature of architects or engineers who are licensed to practice by the State

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2009/09/more_than_hope.php (2016-02-10)
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  • We The People | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    than the auditors own provided equivalent energy efficiency improvements can be achieved by such alternative means In a follow up reply to a Council member s question about the impact of long term commercial leases and automatic renewal clauses EDF questioned what proportion of current leases would run for fifteen years starting from 2009 and emphasized that the provisions of commercial leases can be drafted differently in response to legislation like the audits and retrofit bill which give landlords an incentive to ensure that the benefits and costs associated with energy efficiency retrofits would accrue to the same party The Council of New York Cooperatives and Condos voiced strong objections to both the audit and retrofit bill and the energy benchmarking bill Intro 476A Our experience is that using the online benchmarking tool is neither simple nor cost free and we are not convinced that the major utilities will take the necessary steps to provide this information directly to the City i Turning to Intro 967 Perhaps most troublesome is the absolute requirement that a building implement all measures deemed to have a payback of seven years or less ii This removes from the Board its discretion to run its cooperative or condominium This conclusion ran counter to the Administration s emphasis on the choice retained by property owners as to what specific energy efficiency investments they must make From a housing activist perspective the testimony of Enterprise Community Partners a hands on organization involved in financing and building affordable homes added credibility to the aspirations of the legislation and could help allay the fears of the Condo and Co op Council Through its Green Communities program Enterprise has created more than 3000 green affordable homes for low income New Yorkers Based on its real world experience around the nation Enterprise testified that new and existing properties that achieve 20 percent to 30 percent greater energy efficiency generate substantial cost savings from lower energy and water use Then there was the toothless tiger problem At least two union related witnesses who supported the overall intent of the legislation raised concerns about the lack of explicit enforcement provisions applicable to violators This should ring a bell with Torchlight readers where I wrote The benchmarking bill s explicit enforcement language is unique among the four pieces of legislation It spells out that failure to file mandatory benchmarking reports by the stipulated due date makes building owners subject to a Buildings Department notice of a lesser violation which could entail a Commissioner s Order to correct the problem Property owners are also required to retain relevant documents that must be available for inspection and audit by the Department Curiously there is no language that addresses the filing of false misleading or incomplete data And now I want to go one step further The final version of the benchmarking bill should include a provision requiring building data to be provided to prospective buyers and lenders as a necessary part of any lease sale or

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2009/07/we_the_people.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Getting Down To Work | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    City s current energy code webpage carries this notice In Spring 2009 the Buildings Department will begin auditing New Building and Alteration applications for ECCCNYS State Energy Code compliance and when appropriate issuing objections and notices of revocation for applications that do not meet these requirements This language suggests that application review by Buildings will be the first line of ensuring compliance with the proposed law This will be a big step forward for the City when it comes to reviewing the information that backs up a permit application under the Energy Code Whether the audit staff at the Buildings Department will have the resources to manage its new and expanding assignments and what standards will be established for selecting permit applications for auditing remains to be seen Since the language of the energy code bill is so specific about its enforcement purpose this is not a small matter The audit and retrofit bill is the most sweeping in its requirements and in the short run is likely to be the most costly to property owners and to tenants as a result of cost pass throughs In a nutshell if passed this bill would require owners of all buildings larger than 50 000 square feet to undertake energy audits once every decade and to make cost effective energy improvements which could entail either upgrading the building s physical fabric and systems retro commissioning to achieve greater energy efficiencies or some combination of these actions Cost effectiveness is to be calculated in terms of the anticipated recurring long term drop in energy consumption that results from investing in improved efficiency in the short run For buildings that already perform at a very efficient level the bill contains provisions requiring only the submission of energy efficiency reports to the Department of Buildings The bill as currently drafted incorporates neither tax zoning nor other measures to nudge forward meaningful public acceptance and implementation Should such measures emerge as the bill undergoes public review it remains to be seen if they will be applicable to all kinds of building or restricted to a subset such as financially distressed properties If a building owner is unable to afford energy efficiency improvements the bill provides that the owner may apply for a compliance extension from the Department This is the only incentive the legislation offers and that may not be enough i In light of the current credit freeze access to funds for retrofits and retro commissioning could be a high bar for many especially for owners of affordable housing and for many co op and condo owners it could also be a tall order Serious and sweeping legislation merits strategic and sufficient resources to get passed Advocates for affordable housing stress the difficulty of providing decent shelter to New Yorkers and are concerned about costs entailed by any new mandates At the same time missing from the legislation as it now stands despite Administration claims to it serving as a labor market stimulus is reference

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2009/04/getting_down_to_work_1.php (2016-02-10)
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  • A Glass Act | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    saw the need for a local industrial archaeology study Such research would contribute to a richer understanding of architectural practices and transformations as New York grew bigger and denser by pinpointing the shift away from locally manufactured building materials like stone terra cotta and brick to more energy intensive materials like iron and steel Reflecting on his Stuyvesant Town choice Hinge praised its architects and engineers for designing apartments that were high quality affordable and relatively simple to operate and maintain After World War II energy wasn t cheap for consumers so energy efficiency in heating cooling and lighting was an important design goal Hinge wasn t willing to put a newer building on his list because he would need at least five years of data to see which green buildings were best able to deliver on the promise of energy efficiency and a smaller carbon footprint As it now stands the US Green Building Council s LEED green ratings for new building are based more on design promises than actual performance This means there is much to learn about the performance of green buildings opened over the last decade Green affordable housing architect Chris Benedict also insisted on the pressing need for data on the energy performance of the City s building stock but she took a different tack in responding to the question what are your two favorite greenest most energy efficient buildings in New York City that have gone up in the last 100 years My favorites are buildings that elegantly and beautifully meet the needs of the people and processes within them while using the least amount of energy to meet the loads created by the use of the building While the first part of my criteria is subjective the energy use is calculated from a building s energy bills divided by the square footage of the building This calculation yields a number that can be compared to other buildings of the same use Since energy bills are not made available to the public even by the owners of green buildings in New York who make energy efficiency claims I don t have enough information to choose two favorites Let s be clear Modernists and supporters of high performance buildings with transparent facades should not be thin skinned about praise for buildings clad in stone brick or terra cotta or misconstrue the views of Bell Hinge Hanhardt or Benedict Each is a forceful proponent for making much more green architectural progress For Hinge energy audits of green building developments like Battery Park City would provide bundles of useful information on what new buildings are doing right He s a supporter of energy efficient window replacement and on site recharging plug ins for hybrid cars His to do list also includes developing storm water reuse systems and better water conservation appliances The education of staff and residents to support the long term operations and management of green designed buildings is another must Here is Bell s top

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2009/03/a_glass_act.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Don't Get Lost In Translation | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    of almost 83 million Energy efficiency gains in these projects are anticipated to come from lower consumption of electricity natural gas and purchased steam which should mean an annual reduction of 330 metric tons of greenhouse gases In turn associated cost savings should translate into a seven year payback period for the additional incurred compliance costs This is a real opportunity but it must be compared to the overall 1 68 million metric ton cut in greenhouse gas emissions the City projects will be needed to meet its 30x2017 target for its own operations as detailed in the Long Term Plan to Reduce Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Municipal Buildings and Operations Of this targeted reduction increased energy efficiency in its structures will account for a hefty 953 606 tons More on this below Yet even with all the first Annual Report s facts and figures something crucial gets lost in translation the ability to measure and verify how Local Law 86 supports the 30x2017 goal of PlaNYC 2030 As of now even the most careful readers can t compare and coordinate these bureaucratically distinct efforts and neither can anyone else This is not a desiccated quibble about a definition real money s at stake The City as part of a long term energy plan that s an outgrowth of PlaNYC 2030 has launched an 80 million a year program to upgrade the energy efficiency and cut the energy costs of operating its building stock Since the PlaNYC 2030 Progress Report doesn t provide data on the progress of Local Law 86 let s look next into the City s specific plan to boost its own energy performance i The Long Term Plan to Reduce Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Municipal Buildings and Operations issued in July 2008 provides the dominant narrative for how the City s municipal operations which produce approximately 3 8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas GHG emissions per year and consumes about 6 5 of New York City s total energy use will slash these emissions 30 by 2017 and save tax payer dollars on its energy and fuel bills The City proposes to meet these goals by investing 10 of the City s annual energy budget and this could add up to more than 900 million What s not made clear is how the energy efficiency achievements of Local Law 86 will be factored in ii For instance the Long Term Plan recommends building audits to identify energy savings opportunities It also recommends upgrading building management systems and enhancing staff operations and maintenance capacities None of these are actions stipulated by Local Law 86 As the Sallan Foundation routinely advocates the Long Term Plan calls on the City to institute performance measurement and verification programs and to develop a performance tracking and information management database These are estimable aspirations but who is thinking about how to deliver on them in the new and existing buildings designed to meet Local Law

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2009/01/dont_get_lost_in_translation.php (2016-02-10)
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  • The Deep Green Quartet | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    discussion The benchmarking bill could be more far reaching through including provisions to leverage market interest in energy efficiency by stipulating point of sale access to a property s electricity fuel and water consumption data Think of this as a carbon consumption right to know law For residential co ops or condos building management should provide such consumption data excluding electric use within residential units to prospective buyers For commercial and residential renters in buildings obligated to undertake benchmarking the European Union offers a model of building labeling that could be adapted for use in New York City The Council should also draft a companion bill that would make energy consumption information available to prospective buyers of 1 4 family homes Overall costs of compliance would be close to zero for sellers and owners while buyers and renters would benefit from the ability to compare fuel consumption costs on different properties The energy efficiency report and retrofit bill is the most far teaching of the quartet because it has the potential to set into motion a wide array of game changing energy conserving actions in buildings that might otherwise continue on their current consumption trajectories By game changing I mean efficiency investments on a scale large enough to foster markets for greener goods services and jobs If compliance leads to widespread operational improvements and installation of energy savings equipment and building systems its impact will be felt at a large enough scale to slash New York s overall electricity and fuel oil consumption Simply put it makes good sense to think of the this bill and its companions in the Deep Green Quartet both as investments in the City s future well being and as power tools for cutting its carbon footprint starting now It is distressing therefore that the worrying term low hanging fruit crops up in discussions of the audit and retrofit program s likely impact Typically energy efficient lighting is cited as low hanging fruit sounds good but what about the rest of the building As drafted this bill is unlikely to stimulate any big work on building envelopes major mechanical systems or boilers Why Because the provision that limits energy retrofits to instances where building owners based on their own calculations can achieve a five year return on investment ROI This formulation invites two avoidance schemes The first scheme entails data distortion pegging the action threshold to a five year ROI is an invitation to calculate six year ROI s for contemplated energy retrofits One solution under discussion is to allow for the cost averaging of several energy efficiency options to get to the five year number That might be a workable idea but it s not enough The bill should also establish threshold numerical energy efficiency gains for the ECM s selected by the property owner to ensure that some tree top fruit is picked Finally an easy low cost way to increase an owner s greening incentive without actually requiring any specific retrofit investments would be adding a statutory requirement that building audit results become part of the information disclosure which is part of every property sale or finance application Surely a high value real estate asset is one where operating expenses are kept down through attention to tip top building systems maintenance and where these systems are up to date The second avoidance scheme built into the current bill is to encourage investments that aim no higher than current code requirements Energy efficiency codes reflect the inherent lag of professional consensus that is several years old Spending money now for building upgrades entails decisions that means money won t be available for something else next year Thus it would be good public policy and prudent investment to encourage building owners to exceed code requirements As drafted the audit and retrofit bill also risks a wave of residential market dislocation Since it would apply to an estimated 9 000 large residential buildings the impact on housing affordability cannot be ignored Some have proposed ECM requirement exclusion in rent regulated buildings in order to forestall rent increases associated with work counted as a major capital investment MCI Before going down that road bill drafters should set interim numerical energy efficiency targets based on the building s total size and occupancy rate If that target can be met with fast track retro commissioning and regularly scheduled operating and maintenance improvements which could include technical training for building maintenance staff partially paid for with systems benefit charge and or utility funds the building owner would have five years before undertaking ECM s Parallel programs to encourage installation of energy efficient domestic appliances would be a great way to help bring down overall energy consumption and reduce tenants utility bills In these ways MCI costs can be planned for in an orderly manner Equally important smart aggressive education programs for tenants must be established and regular outreach must become routine practice Let s return to the question of how to mobilize an army of energy efficiency early adapters and examine four of the best ideas in circulation Portland Oregon is considering how to offer incentives to owners whose buildings exceed energy code requirements and are models of cost effective ahead of the curve green building Conventional buildings would have to pay something under this feebate scheme while buildings that performed well above Energy Code requirements could receive valuable zoning bonuses or other incentives to rebate owners energy efficiency expenses New York City s retrofit bill should aim for similar high performance results Offering faster depreciation allowances through New York City s tax code would be an additional sharp tool to encourage early adoption of ECM s Here s a third powerful idea the Dutch auction In a plain vanilla auction an item goes up in price with each bid until a winner is declared A Dutch auction is the reverse with the first high bidder getting the most of the thing desired and lower later bidders leave empty

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2008/10/the_deep_green_quartet.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Memories of Next Summer | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    press release Today we know about the perils of climate change and the sky high cost of energy but these stories demonstrate that in some important ways we re still behaving as if it were a retro carbon carefree era The good news is that at the same time our thinking and our commitments are shifting to the realities right ahead of us Since climate policy should be just as creative as fashion let s preview some of the hottest new ideas about urban sustainability SEQRA and Climate Change A major consequence of the US Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v E P A 127 S Ct 1438 April 2 2007 holding that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant under the terms of the Clean Air Act was to give states and cities a firmer basis for controlling this major contributor to global warming Despite the EPA s failure to promulgate CO2 emissions regulations civic professional and environmental activists have been developing far reaching ideas for advancing climate policy and greenhouse gas rules at the sub federal level New York s Municipal Arts Society MAS with the input of a working group drawn from diverse expert arenas is circulating a working draft of SEQRA and Climate Change SEQRA is New York State s decades old environmental review statute As a major tool for assessing the environmental impact of a wide array of proposed actions inclusion of provisions for assessing the climate impact of a project s greenhouse gas emissions makes good sense SEQRA and Climate Change identifies the value of this kind of review in helping government agencies project sponsors and the public to understand the climate consequences of a proposed action and will help address future impacts related to the largest actions taken in New York State in the land use energy industrial transportation and other sectors This working draft sets out a detailed framework for analyzing climate change in an environmental impact statement under SEQRA and it is compatible with the goals of PlaNYC 2030 As Mayor Bloomberg said when describing the impetus for his plan We soon realized that you can t formulate a land use plan without thinking about transportation and you can t think about transportation without thinking about air quality You can t think about air quality without thinking about energy and you certainly can t think about energy or any of this without thinking about global warming This rightly puts land use and public policy front and center of State and City climate efforts It would not be a great stretch for the New York City s own Environmental Quality Review law to adopt analogous requirements nor would it be the first time in the U S that environmental reviews were expanded to incorporate climate impact considerations The MAS report builds on leadership in Massachusetts California and Seattle Washington where analysis of climate impacts is a routine part of public review and approval Presently the MAS is circulating its report among experts civic

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2008/08/memories_of_next_summer.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Can't Wait | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    2017 and the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability is looking into how to get there it s more than changing light bulbs Consider the Energy Efficiency Program a product of plaNYC development The City estimates that by improving the energy efficiency of its own buildings its CO 2 emissions could be cut by 50 60 In December 2007 the administration announced several short terms actions and promised to issue a long term plan by the end of June 2008 It has pledged to conduct base line energy audits of ten municipal buildings as a pilot for a larger audit program Audit findings could be invaluable both for the efforts of municipal government as well as the advancement of LEED standards for existing buildings and other high performance building projects outside the LEED protocol That s the kind of potential impact Mayor Bloomberg calls leading by example In September 2008 expect an update on the City s 2007 carbon footprint report And not to be overlooked if the City issues an in depth annual report this fall about Local Law 86 its two year old green building statute we d have an opportunity to learn from the laws on the books Don t expect all the findings to be upbeat either in terms of performance or cost There remains much to be learned about high performance building design construction and operations A 2008 New Buildings Institute report found a disturbingly wide range of energy performance for new LEED rated projects around the US While on average LEED buildings are 25 30 more energy efficient than non LEED construction of the 121 buildings in the study 30 performed better than expected 25 performed worse than expected and a few had serious energy consumption problems What to make of this As the Sallan Snapshot Sustainability In Commercial Buildings Bridging The Gap From Design To Operations argued As more actual energy performance data on high performing buildings becomes available clearer and more realistic expectations will help to establish confidence within the building design and construction industry about costs and savings Especially because energy cost savings are often cited as offsetting additional first costs of green buildings it is important to narrow the gap between the predicted energy benefits and actual measured savings Accurate reporting of the actual performance of green buildings is important will help the industry to calibrate its expectations and move towards more consistent results and confidence in projections Sharing operating results and lessons learned earlier rather than later can avoid repeating potential mistakes as the green buildings movement proceeds plaNYC 2030 of course is more than a directive to our building stock Trees have been planted schoolyards are open for play after 3 pm and congestion pricing has gone down to defeat But these developments cannot predict the degree to which the Plan will succeed because as Tom Angotti writes The real test is whether the ambitious goals of creating a greener and healthier New York will be achieved

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2008/06/cant_wait.php (2016-02-10)
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