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  • Giant Steps | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    a child focused high performance school design guideline developed by NYSERDA and the New York State Education Department All of which makes us question why there is so little in the City s proposed guidelines regarding schools school children and the potential benefits of healthy and high performance green design We cannot at this point comment as to whether the planned impact of Local Law 86 is supportive of children s health learning and well being because there is no detail in the proposed guidelines regarding how schools will comply with the new law We understand the School Construction Authority has been conducting an extensive process to develop their own school design guidelines to comply with the new law We have further found that this process has been closed without the opportunity for public comment or input The law may permit a closed process for schools However for all the reasons outlines above school design is a community issue with implications for public health community development and neighborhood sustainability If any component of Local Law 86 implementation warrants public input then certainly schools should be at the top of the list We urge the administration to make public the SCA school design guidelines and to provide an opportunity for community input Green schools have succeeded where all members of the school community have offered their input on the use benefits and functionality of the school Top down central planning such as is now being demonstrated by the SCA and the administration is not conducive to quality high performance school design We therefore urge the SCA and the administration to publicly disclose their school high performance design guidelines provide ample opportunity for community input provide an opportunity for technical review by high performance design experts the SCA should also provide a side by side spreadsheet style analysis of their green design criteria in comparison to LEED and NY CHPS to facilitate understanding of their proposal We of course hope that the SCA s plan for complying with Local Law 86 is in fact child centered and focused on children and all building occupants and that they are aiming to achieve a healthy and high performance design template that will promote the highest ideals of green and high performance school design However a critically important component to the high performance school design process is community input We hope that a draft of the planned SCA high performance school design guidelines will soon be made available for public comment We welcome the opportunity to work constructively with the SCA and the administration to achieve the best possible high performance design guideline that will not only meet the needs of children and educators throughout the city but also serve as a national model of community influenced green design for schools in a complex urban environment Stephan Chenault Sierra Club New York City Group The Sierra Club New York City Group is supportive of the City of New York s growing commitment toward environmentally sound and healthy building design and construction In this regards Local Law 86 and its adoption of LEED certification standards is a welcome step forward In addition the Sierra Club urges the City of New York to ensure the implementation of LL86 with LEED standards for Material and Resources specifically the following MR Credit 5 1 and 5 2 Regional Materials MR Credit 6 Rapidly Renewable Materials and MR Credit 7 Certified Wood These measures are essential to ensure the City of New York contributes to the conservation of natural resources including forests which are of invaluable ecological cultural and economic importance The Forest Stewardship Council an international certification program supported by environmental labor and human rights groups across the globe is currently the only accrediting body that meets the high standards to protect these ecological human rights and economic values LEED standards call for the use of Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and it is essential that this FSC standard remain intact in LL86 implementation In addition the regional materials credits would support the local economy and businesses Thank you for your attention to these recommendations Chris Garvin Cook Fox Thank you for meeting with me as part of the LL86 Roundtable last week to discuss the implementation rules for Local Law 86 It was an informative meeting and I would like to commend your office s work on developing the draft rules The following are suggestions that we have developed that we believe would improve the rules and the process of their implementation Under the definition for substantial reconstruction the phase the building s floor area should be expanded to the building s floor area of the city controlled portion of the building in order to address significant renovation of leased space in large buildings In addition there may need to be a minimum square footage that is attached to the definition to clarify the applicability This would also address the issue of multi use buildings in which the city funding is for only a portion of the overall building Under the definition for reporting form the requirements should be more specific in order to give the OEC more data from which to understand the values of each project Specifically aligning the reporting requirements to the issues raised by the Mayor s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability specifically CO2 emissions In general basic building data area floor size use type s mechanical system type fuel type LEED checklist when applicable energy reduction calculations and water reduction calculations This will allow the City to quickly and easily measure progress toward meeting the City s Sustainability goals Regarding an alternative not less stringent green building standard in order to meet this requirement any alternative standard must maintain the third party verification protocols that occurs with the LEED programs in order to be equivalent Any other type of standard would be seen as an attempt to subvert the intent of the law Under the Statement of Basis and Purpose second paragraph an additional power and duties of the Director of the OEC should be updating the green building standard to the most up to date version as deemed appropriate and that all equal standards are also updated accordingly The current draft rules reference LEED v2 1 for the energy calculation methodology to reduce confusion and ease implementation this should be revised to reference LEED v 2 2 and as subsequently amended Under section 10 07 Exemptions to insure equity and appropriateness of exemptions the City needs to improve the exemption policy by requiring cost analysis and life cycle analysis to any project requesting exemption in order to provide the Director of the OEC with legitimate third party verified data from which to make decisions The City must implement a large scale educational program to communicate the requirements and develop the skills needed to fulfill the promise of Local Law 86 Both municipal employees at all affected agencies and municipal vendors and contractors need to be acting in concert with the spirit of the law for it to truly succeed In the larger context it is urgent that the City Council and Mayor move forward with legislation that requires ALL new construction and substantial renovations in the City meet LEED requirements similar to the recently passed Washing DC legislation Details of the legislation are available at http www dccouncil washington dc us images 00001 20051121092037 pdf Personally I am proud of the City Council and Mayor s Office for developing this legislation and hope that the implementation throughout all of the City Agencies is as successful as possible We look forward to working on future legislation that is even more ambitious to transform the entire building industry in New York City in to an wold class example of Sustainability Eva Hanhardt Pratt Institute My name is Eva Hanhardt and I am an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Planning and the Coordinator of the Environmental Systems Management Program at the Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment I appreciate the opportunity to provide comments about the Local Law 86 draft rules I want to commend the Bloomberg Administration for its commitment to the successful implementation Local Law 86 which will be one of the first major deliverables in Mayor Bloomberg s sustainable development initiative As a Professor of Planning I am particularly pleased that implementation of plans for green energy efficient high performance development will be supported with the force of law Indeed the draft rules offer an excellent framework for implementing Local Law 86 There are several particular areas however where I feel additional clarification would improve their effectiveness In respect to S10 07 Exemptions It would be extremely important to have some identification of findings that the Director of the Office of Environmental Coordination would be using in determining in his or her sole discretion such exemption is necessary in the public interest Such a clarification would serve to make the process more transparent and predictable for all concerned agencies as well as the general public Examples of findings can already be found in considering variances at the Board of Standards and Appeals and special permits at City Planning The draft rules state that Requests for exemption including an explanation of the reason for such request and supporting documentation shall be submitted to the Office of Environmental Coordination as soon as is practicable after the agency becomes aware of the necessity for such exemption The rules should make it clear how the public can have access to the requests for exemption including the stated reasons and the supporting documentation The Office of Environmental Coordination is responsible for publishing findings where necessary on whether proposed green buildings standards are not less stringent than the applicable Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED standard It is important that these published findings are also made available to the public in a timely and relevant manner Finally in determining the green building standards ratings the City should make every effort to take advantage of the economic and job development potential for New York City and New York State in using locally produced green materials and products including FSC certified wood The City should work with the State to modify any State laws or regulations which currently make this difficult Again I want to commend the Bloomberg Administration for its efforts and look forward to seeing New York become the greenest and most sustainable city in America Thank you Tanu Kumar New York Industrial Retention Network Thank you I am Tanu Kumar Director of Business Services for the New York Industrial Retention Network and responsible for implementation of NYIRN s Green Manufacturing Initiative to help New York manufacturers capitalize on the growing market for green products NYIRN is a citywide economic development organization that works with more than 400 manufacturers each year to promote both blue collar jobs and sustainable development Our commitment to sustainable development grows out of the recognition that promoting green business practices is in the best economic interest of both the individual businesses and the City as a whole Increased construction of high performance energy efficient buildings by private developers has already sparked the growth of green manufacturing i e the making of products that cut energy consumption promote a healthy environment or otherwise reduce the environmental footprint left after production and use 71 of the companies participating in a recent study by NYIRN and ITAC reported that their clients were interested in green products NYIRN has launched two initiatives funded in part by the City Council and the Mayor s Office to help companies capitalize on these emerging markets and create jobs NYIRN s North Brooklyn Energy Grant Program has helped 22 manufacturers reduce energy consumption and costs and green their operations The Green Manufacturing Initiative mentioned above builds relationships between architects developers and other potential buyers in the City s real estate community with local manufacturers of green products who tend to be small companies that otherwise cannot reach this market Both programs help prepare New York City manufacturers to participate in implementing and benefiting from Local Law 86 The City Council s passage of Local Law 86 was a landmark in moving the City toward sustainability It is clear that part of the Council s intent in passing LL 86 was to stimulate new jobs in local green manufacturing The LEED standards referred to in the local law include a preference for the purchase of locally produced materials and products The intent behind this preference is to reduce energy consumed in transportation create markets for recycled materials and foster local green development However it is not clear that the draft rules allow the City to realize the Council s intent and take full advantage of the potential of Local Law 86 The draft rules omit any provisions to allow the City to specify the purchase of local materials because of possible conflicts with NYS Municipal Law State law requires the award of contracts to the lowest responsible bidder to potentially avoid so called social benefit goals Apparently adding local preference into the procurement process has been interpreted as a social benefit This prohibition obviously undermines both the environmental and economic goals of Local Law 86 and diminishes the impact of this law on New York s long term sustainability initiatives These potential restrictions are based upon a section of the NYS Municipal Law that does not clearly apply to local procurement and other bidding related issues within Local Law 86 The prohibition that a city cannot consider the social benefits of products is only an interpretation of the State Law and one that has been overlooked by other NYS municipalities when purchasing renewable energy and locally produced farm products Local Law 86 mandates that certain City funded construction projects meet the USGBC s LEED Silver or similar standards for green building New York companies have a particular competitive advantage in this green building market since the LEED standards award points to buildings that use a certain amount of locally grown and or manufactured materials and products The rationale behind the local procurement preference point is threefold to cut down on energy consumed in transportation to employ and create markets for recycled materials and to strengthen local economies In conclusion we urge the City to interpret State law to allow a procurement preference pursuant to Local Law 86 Failing that representatives from the business community and labor and environmental organizations have all indicated their support if necessary for a change in State law to carve out an exception to the NYS Municipal Law to allow the City to realize the full benefits that should result from its commitment to sustainable development I strongly urge you to consider the implications of the current draft rules for local economic growth and if necessary to work with us to advocate for change at the State level that would benefit the long term sustainability for New York City Carol Rosenfeld Environmental Defense Natural Resources Defense Council Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to comment today My name is Carol Rosenfeld and I am a Research Fellow in the Living Cities Program at Environmental Defense Environmental Defense is a national non profit environmental organization headquartered in New York City with 400 000 members around the country and over 50 000 members and activists in New York The Living Cities program at Environmental Defense is dedicated to practical solutions that secure clean air water and lands in urban areas like New York My testimony today is on behalf of Environmental Defense as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council NRDC NRDC is a national non profit environmental organization headquartered in New York City with more than 500 000 members around the country and more than 50 000 members in New York and uses law and science to protect the planet s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things Both Environmental Defense and NRDC strongly supported the passage of New York City s green buildings law Local Law 86 in 2005 Even without government mandates and incentives building green makes good sense Owners developers builders and tenants of sustainable developments often cite the tangible benefits they receive in terms of energy savings from lower heating cooling ventilation and lighting costs lower maintenance effort and costs and reduced water usage For example hundreds of green buildings have cut energy use by more than 25 Other benefits include higher worker productivity with lower absenteeism and turnover improved health and a greater sense of well being reduced neighborhood noise and light pollution and improved behavior in institutional settings There are also broader social benefits such as smaller streams of solid waste and water lower use of fossil fuels and the accompanying production of global warming gases reduced air water and ground pollution and preservation of biodiversity For these reasons we fully support the spirit of Local Law 86 and the Proposed Rules being commented on today There are just four areas on which we are commenting the process for allowing exemptions to the law the process for setting an alternative standard to LEED the annual reporting requirements and the importance of promoting sustainable procurement practices Exemption Currently the Rules state Section 10 07 that the Office of Environmental Coordination OEC as a delegate of the Mayor may exempt projects not exceeding 20 of the capital dollars that fall under Local Law 86 if in his or her opinion an exemption is in the public interest Reasons for requesting an exemption and explanatory documents must be submitted to the OEC for review To ensure that as few projects are exempted as possible the criteria for exemptions need to be narrower than this New green building legislation in the District of Columbia for example holds that exemptions may be granted only if circumstances exist that make it a hardship or infeasible for a project to be a green building

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2007/01/giant_steps.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Waiting for Godot in NYC | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    policy that is a binding statute Local Law 86 will endure beyond the limits of the Bloomberg Administration but only if it s put into effect What about the Mayor s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability Its job is to coordinate and oversee efforts to develop and implement a long term strategic vision for the city s future development as well as lead the city s ongoing efforts towards environmental sustainability That s quite a mouthful but absent local legislation over the next three years the next Mayor could dissolve the Office This means that Administration inertia now would curdle into a permanent F on the scorecard of this modern management and outcome oriented administration So too inaction or its proxy press releases and blue ribbon panels that lead nowhere would mean losing the vision and energetic contribution of the Sustainability Advisory Board a brain trust of savvy and dedicated environmental and community advocates business and labor leaders architects and academics who meet regularly with staff in the Mayor s Office in an advisory role on urban sustainability The same considerations apply to the Mayor s Office of Environmental Coordination whose responsibilities for Local Law 86 and other major environmental responsibilities are defined by Executive Order is no more inscribed in the permanent structure of City government What are we waiting for At the international scale the November 2006 Kyoto Protocol meeting in Nairobi Kenya saw the emergence of a roundtable of state regional and local governments to discuss sub national initiatives to control greenhouse gases but little progress was made on future climate controls by national governments Federal action in the US on sustainability and climate change are long shots before we elect a new President While New York State s new Governor Eliot Spitzer demonstrated both benchmark environmental leadership and accomplishment as Attorney General often the City does not want the State to tell it what to do As for the prospect of the State acting on green building codes and school construction standards the City wields a local authority in these domains that it would not willingly cede to Albany Yet with the passage of time buildings go up NYC neighborhoods are rezoned and redeveloped clamor persists for additional electricity fuel consumption increases and a dense swarm of other decisions are made that commit capital and transform our urban fabric in a host of ways that will last for decades Vladimir What do we do now Estragon Wait Vladimir Yes but while waiting Unlike Beckett s tramps we don t have much time to lose It is clear that the sunk costs of inaction in carrying on with business as usual while waiting to make NYC a successful model to the world of urban sustainability will have irreversible consequences One glance at the IPCC s model map of NYC in a climate warmed world makes it all too clear that these will not be positive consequences A second glance at James Hansen s complete climate

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2006/11/waiting_for_godot_in_nyc.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Countdown for NYC's Green Building Law | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    technical rules that will get the ball rolling But promulgating rules is itself governed by another law called called the City Administrative Procedures Act or CAPA CAPA specifies detailed rule making timeframes including 30 days between the publication date of draft rules to the date of a mandatory public hearing and another 30 days beween the publication of final rules until the date they go into effect That s 60 days without counting a single day for the City to reflect on the comments it received at public hearings Now the City cannot meet the January 1 rule making deadline Since Rome wasn t built in a day it s a safe bet that building a greener New York will also take some time but that s no reason just to fiddle THE COUNTDOWN 34 DAYS Pass it on February 2016 Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Stay updated via Twitter Google or join our list Recent Torchlight Articles Nancy Anderson Ph D Stuart Brodsky Oct 5 2015 Building Energy

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2006/10/countdown_for_nycs_green_building_law.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Measuring Up to Lord Kelvin | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    200 largest energy consuming facilities is a plus but the cryptic description survey results show at least 30 percent of non process facilities have had partial or full energy upgrades in the past decade fails to deliver the informational goods Nevertheless the 2006 update includes some enticing evidence of future strategic energy planning including a broad based energy management plan to be completed in late 2006 and a study under the auspices of the City s Economic Development Corporation that will analyze the administration s current economic development incentives intended to encourage developments in energy efficiency We look forward to reading the 2007 Status Report to see how this strategic plan is advancing and hope that Lord Kelvin s aphorism will guide it Looking back Torchlight 5 which searched for evidence of sustainable government energy policy and found that the City lacks one But I noted that issuing the Energy Report and enacting the green building law demonstrated that the City was making credible strides in the direction of taming its spiraling energy appetite Only a few months later there is scant evidence that New York City s spiraling energy demand has been tamed in any way According to the Mayor s Office of Energy Conservation figures the City planned to spend more than 614 million on electricity gas and steam in Fiscal Year 2006 more than 18 higher than the previous year s figure get DCAS cite Would the projected 2006 number have been even higher if the City had no conservation programs Based on available evidence no one can say Time to dig deeper The webpage for the Office of Energy Conservation also states only OEC encourages energy conservation at City agencies through a variety of direct and indirect channels Through monthly usage reports and periodic outreach meetings it provides information that agency representatives at both the facility and budget levels can use to identify savings opportunities It participates in intra City task forces in establishing conservation goals Finally it has the contractual authority to implement facility upgrades that conserve energy and have other environmental benefits What OEC doesn t say is whether it set goals to be met and if it s established measurements of the impact of its work This is not a trivial silence At bottom based upon this public information we cannot say which agencies and facilities are now saving energy and we cannot even say whether the City knows the answers The City is already on notice about the need to establish clear and measurable goals for its energy conservation efforts In June 2005 the NYC Comptroller s Office issued an audit FR04 089A that found the City s Office of Energy Conservation has neither developed effective overall strategies for managing energy conservation nor established or attempted to promulgate energy reduction goals for City agencies This is pretty strong stuff Is it justified Is it fair Is it simply outdated It sounds so different than the Mayor s own account of leading by

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2006/08/measuring_up_to_lord_kelvin.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Greener With Envy | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    there s big room for improvement The City ranked a middling 22 in the number of LEED Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design green buildings with only 1 certified and 21 registered LEED buildings as of April 2005 4 Austin Texas a city of 600 000 had just as many LEED buildings SustainLane also rated its LEED data on a per capita basis As of early 2006 the number one city using this method was Atlanta Georgia with 57 LEED buildings New York ranked 39 And as of the 2005 report Programmatically the city has no incentives for commercial or residential green buildings Since buildings consume more than one third of the energy supply increasing the stock of energy efficient green buildings including buildings that generate and deploy renewable energy will help deliver on the promises of it s energy policy report While as of this writing the New York has 35 LEED registered buildings as well as a number of innovative high performance buildings where developers have not chosen to seek LEED ratings New York should be at the cutting edge of making green building the new normal New York is amply endowed with extraordinarily creative architects designers and builders It s got private sector developers who are building world class high performance skyscrapers and mixed income housing It s not just envy that makes me say that New York can become 1 And building green is worth a lot more than a 1 SustainLane rating It s worth something else that s green money In June 2006 the Harvard Business Review reported on a green office building in Pittsburgh that costs 20 less per square foot to operate than a comparable conventional building and on a LEED Platinum rated corporate headquarters in Cambridge that used 42 less energy and 34 less water again rated against a comparable building 5 A developer of a mixed income apartment building in Harlem described a design target of energy savings at 36 over the benchmark American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers standards but a recent data analysis shows actual energy savings of 60 over the building s first year of operation This translates into a 1 500 a year savings per apartment 6 SustainLane s other big criticism of New York last year was A lack of innovative programs and policies driving the city s performance in areas of sustainable economic development is evident On the macro policy level the city has no guiding sustainability or environmental plan Although SustainLane s harsh judgment should have been backed up by something more than a link to just one page on the City government website it s fair to say that the Mayor s recent sustainability announcements give credence to the SustainLane s conclusion that the City does not have yet have an overall sustainable development policy If and when a sustainable development policy is established here public awareness and accountability must be built in as essential elements This means that

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2006/06/greener_with_envy.php (2016-02-10)
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  • NYC.gov — A Modest Proposal | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    public hearing Since subscriptions to the City Record cost 400 a year or 600 to subscribe to the faxed edition the number of regular readers is likely to be quite limited The full City Record is not available online A CAPA requirement that rulemaking notices be mailed to the City Council Corporation Counsel the City s own legal department community boards the news media and civic organizations is a clumsy add on for achieving an informed public Another CAPA requirement that each City agency annually publish a regulatory agenda simply is not equivalent to substantive information about the content of a particular proposed rule The first initiative of my proposed interactive rulemaking site is that it should launch Law 86 the Green Building law which goes into effect on January 1 2007 By posting CAPA required notices about the Green Building Law s draft rules and meetings and by allowing electronic submission of comments and posting of agency responses on www nyc gov the City would take the next logical step into the electronic era A link to the language of law itself would be another smart move i Free online access to draft rules meeting notices and public comments would both satisfy and expand the good purposes of CAPA and its valuable commitment to open government This material should be posted on the web site of the lead agency responsible for crafting the rules for Local Law 86 Of course existing CAPA hard copy and City Record filings can be retained since access to the Internet shouldn t be the cut off point for an informed citizenry While on the topic of Local Law 86 signed by the Mayor in October 2005 it s worth pointing out that no public meetings about draft rules have been announced yet Nor

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2006/04/nycgov_a_modest_proposal.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Building Energy Performance: What’s Evidence Got To Do With It? | Nancy Anderson, Ph.D. & Stuart Brodsky | Torchlight Column | the Sallan Foundation
    used trumps any single design standard investment in and use of any single technology or combinations of technologies or the energy efficiency rating of nearly any individual piece of equipment In brief here s the key to the knowledge rooted in benchmarking data discoveries Some new buildings and even some buildings with green certifications are energy efficiency leaders but some are not Some buildings with 100 glazed facades are surprisingly efficient Building and energy codes are necessary but not sufficient to produce an efficient building Once buildings achieve a rate of energy efficiency they won t stay that way unless operational excellence if not continuous commissioning keeps them running at their best especially as building occupancy changes over time Nevertheless for all the hopes LL84 would create comparative building performance information that would rapidly lead to energy performance upgrades and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions evidence to support these hopes remains elusive It s hard to see benchmarking if information has influenced the owners of assets outside an elite investment universe and this is worrying because the ticking clock of climate change will not slow down for laggardly carbon cutting As well while good public policy must be guided by evidence of its intended impact we are not persuaded that we have such evidence in hand for LL84 Defining discovering and deploying evidence in making public policy as well as private choices is no small achievement Too often aspirations and anecdotes take the place of evidence but they do not fill the void Understanding the impact of benchmarking laws is an ideal test bed for tackling methodological issues because the building energy use and building ratings that are common to benchmarking laws are relatively straightforward In this test bed we define progress as the ongoing search for evidence that benchmarking data is being treated as actionable information by those responsible for improving a property s energy performance As well evidence should be sought to determine whether that information gets aggregated within the industry as good practice and affirmed by the public sector as good policy Public policy makers assert that NYC s benchmarking data is providing them with detailed real world information that will help the City advance toward its goal of cutting its carbon footprint 80 by 2050 We are heartened and await outcomes at a scale and speed that make a difference We are also cautiously optimistic Owners who know the energy efficiency rating of their building s and have put to rest the myths of energy efficiency have a path to action and a system to track their improvement Here s our guide for a place to start An owner of a building with a disappointing efficiency rating has high potential to capture a 5 to 10 savings in energy use through measures that require little expenditure even if they do require some oversight in scheduling of maintenance and operations personnel Time clocks occupancy sensors and thermostats can drive over 50 of the energy consumption in a

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Torchlight/2015/10/building_energy_performance_whats_evidence_go.php (2016-02-10)
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  • Historic Preservation & Passive House Working Together In NYC | Ken Levenson, A.I.A. | Snapshot Column | the Sallan Foundation
    July and August The windows leak even the new ones the walls leak and lack insulation and ventilation is spotty at best making drafts insufferable in winter and with windows wide open in the summer an interior coated with city soot dust and pollen The historic building while culturally invaluable can and should be made functional for the 21st Century Breathability is the most unhelpful myth and ultimately a case of mistaken identity Breathing indiscriminately is as dangerous for buildings as it is for people what you inhale matters Air flow across the wall enclosure is a building s biggest liability Air flow can carry tremendous amounts of water with it easily saturating wall assemblies and potentially leading to freeze thaw wall destruction and failure mold and rot Air tightness protects the insulated wall assembly from water damage Air tightness has other benefits too protecting the occupants comfort and health and is essential for energy efficiency With our Brooklyn Heights Passive House renovation the full effect of air tightness was made dramatically clear this past December The structure had been made air tight but was still completely uninsulated with no heat source other than the workmen work lights and the sunlight With temperatures in the teens the inside was still comfortable the workmen in fact had to take off their coats and sweaters Sitting on site they d marvel at how a house without any insulation could be so warm in such cold weather The answer is air tightness While air tightness is a clear benefit the decision exactly how to insulate these old buildings is likely the most critical one to make We will insulate these old buildings as comfort economics and the climate challenge demand it but because we are insulating on the inside face of the exterior walls they do become colder and less able to dry The more insulation we add at the interior the greater chance of destructive masonry freeze thaw cycles Luckily freeze thaw is dependent on several bad things happening simultaneously including moisture saturation and extreme cold so that with proper water shedding from functioning cornices and sills air tightness and carefully calibrated insulation levels we can responsibly insulate these buildings Fortunately given the relatively moderate climate here and the optimal surface to volume ratio of townhouses and multi family buildings dominating New York City the insulation levels can be very moderate yet still achieve Passive House level optimization Breathability often mistakenly attributed to air flow is really about water vapor flow Historic building walls should breathe water vapor not air Due to humidity and pressure differentials between outside and inside water vapor moves into wall assemblies generally moving outward in the winter and inward in the summer iii Once there is water in the wall it must be able to get out making vapor barriers often not only unhelpful but detrimental to the wall construction Today everyone installs air conditioning without giving much thought to its effect on the building and this

    Original URL path: http://www.sallan.org/Snapshot/2011/02/historic_preservation_passive_house_working_together_in_nyc.php (2016-02-10)
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