A 60 year old co-op on the Upper East Side, spent $33,000 on a new building management system that the co-op board said now keeps the entire building’s temperature in balance. But the board sees that as only the first step toward bringing the building in compliance with the city’s energy standards enacted four years ago, but becoming effective in 2024.
The Climate Mobilization Act, Local Law 97, a package of ten bills that was passed by the city council in April 2019 and signed by then Mayor Bill DeBlasio, requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to meet new energy efficient and greenhouse gas emissions limits by 2024. With that deadline fast approaching, Parity Inc. an HVAC consultant, has been working on a solution with a co-op located on the Upper East Side at 201 E. 79th Street.
By April 2022, Stefan Unger said knew the old building, built in 1963, needed to have some major adjustments done in terms of energy efficiency. “We knew the best way to balance the systems in the building was with a building management system (BMS) system, which operates 24 hours a day. It does things on a peak basis when things aren’t being utilized like hot water, heat or A.C. When the demand isn’t so great, it can dial those back, which automatically saves the building costs,” Stefan Unger, former president and current member of the co-op board said.
In May of 2022, Unger got in touch with Managing Director of Parity, James Hannah, after a referral from an architectural engineer Ed Rollins. “I asked if Rollins knew James Hannah, and—bingo, he sure knew who he was. That is all we needed to go ahead with Parity,” Unger said.
Parity is a company devoted to maximizing the efficiency of HVAC systems in multifamily buildings remotely. “We are always trying to get these systems to operate at a point where there is no wasted energy to still deliver the same amount of heating, cooling or ventilation that the building needs at any given time,” Hannah said.
“The amount laid out was maybe $32,000 or $34,000 and we are guaranteed a flat saving every year of a minimum of $27,000 and if we don’t recognize that savings, parity will write us a check for that.” Unger said. “To me, this was a no-lose situation.”
The investment was also worth it considering the influx on energy prices recently, Unger adds. “Knowing the fact that ConEd raised their prices 4.4 percent a year for the last 3 years, which is a cumulative 14.414 percent, we know that our bills are 11 percent less when you factor in all of those increases based on the prior baseline,” Unger said. “So, the savings is significant.”
201 E. 79th Street suffered some overheating problems in building during the wintertime. Parity installed sensors and from there the co-op board was able to figure out the areas that were being over cooled, and they were able to reduce some flow of water in the building to balance it out.
Anthony Maldonado, the resident manager was able to experience the benefits of the changes in the building firsthand. “I had an issue where my hot water was fluctuating during the wintertime,” Maldonado said. “It was fluctuating between 1 and 3 a.m. I wasn’t getting complaints at that time because the demand for domestic hot water was not huge, but because of the parity platform that operates for 24 hours seven days a week, it was showing that the hot water would drop between 1 and 3 a.m. Without Parity’s platform—I would have never known what was going on. With their platform we were able to find out that one of our steam valves was leaking.”
“The biggest pro to Parity is that they can see problems before I or the shareholders get the complaint—that’s made my life much easier,” Maldonado said. “From the first handshake to the last drive that was installed, everyone on their team has been cooperative.”
In terms of innovations for energy efficient co-ops, Hannah is looking into grid interactive buildings. Hannah says those buildings will interact with the electric grid that may not only pull electricity off the grid, but maybe reduce electricity at certain times. “I think there will be different opportunities in the future to focus on not only how much energy a building is using, but also focus on when that energy is being used. If the end game here is to reduce the carbon footprint of the building, it’s got to be both of those things. We are just at the very early innings of scenes for policy and innovation on the ‘time of use’ side of things,” Hannah said.
Hannah says that buildings are now thinking about whether or not to replace gas or oil-fired boilers and other equipment with electric equipment. Buildings are thinking of going from a boiler to a series of heat pumps.
“As the city is trying to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions, the whole world is trying to do that. What people don’t realize is, globally, around 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. They don’t realize what a contributing factor buildings are to global emissions—so energy efficient co-ops are very much attacking that piece of the pie,” Hannah said.
“The amount laid out was maybe $32,000 or $34,000 and we are guaranteed a flat saving every year of a minimum of $27,000 and if we don’t recognize that savings, parity will write us a check for that,” Stefan Unger, former president and current co-op board member said. “To me, this was a no-lose situation.”