ENERGY & CARBON EMISSIONS OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE
(Source: NYC Task Force)
The most immediate and promising route to reducing building fuel, electricity use and carbon emissions lies in more efficient operation of existing buildings.
Most buildings consume more energy than necessary, often substantially more. The range in performance is enormous: The
least efficient existing buildings use three to five times more energy
than the most efficient buildings. Even among new buildings, marked
discrepancies exist between design expectations and actual energy use.
What’s more, existing buildings are here to stay: It’s estimated that 85
percent of the buildings that will constitute New York City’s real estate in 2030 are already standing today.
Much of the variation in energy use among buildings and between an individual building’s design and actual usage is due to differences in operations. This includes both decisions on when to replace aging capital equipment and day-to-day operating schedules and maintenance choices.
Mismatches between the requirements of efficient operation
and the resources made available are frequent. These occur because
buildings are large, complex entities that require constant control
Building operations are often neglected, and maintenance is frequently deferred, steps that can lead to excessive energy use and high operations expenses.
The reasons are many. For one, building residents and management alike tend to judge a building’s performance by its level of comfort and reliability, rather than its energy efficiency. Also, energy and water costs are modest when compared with such expense as mortgages, salaries and taxes; as a result, these costs are often paid
less attention. In many commercial buildings, there are split incentives: If leases include energy expenses as a mark-up on the utility’s bill, then the owner has little reason to promote efficient operations in the tenants’ spaces. Finally, New York City’s elaborate codes and laws governing buildings have overwhelmingly focused on assuring health and safety, rather than energy efficiency.
That said, there are some initiatives aimed at improving operations
and maintenance in New York City buildings. For example, the U.S.
Green Building Council’s LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and
Maintenance program provides nationally recognized certification that a building is being run efficiently. So does the U.S. Energy Star program for buildings.
On the training front, local labor unions have established a
wide variety of programs, including the Service Employees International Union’s Local 32BJ’s Thomas Shortman Training Program and the associated 1000 Green Supers initiative. Other training programs include Local 94 Operating Engineers’ suite of training courses, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30’s Apprentice Training and Skill Improvement Training courses. These have all provided valuable improvements in the capabilities of New York City’s building operators.
The proposals in this section would increase awareness of energy use
by tenants and building operators. If approved, meters will be required to measure electricity use by major systems and tenant spaces, and automated energy tracking will be required for new, large buildings.
Ready access to this information would increase the attention placed
on energy efficiency and speed the detection of leaks and other
malfunctions. One proposal would establish reasonable limits on heating and cooling temperatures, hopefully putting an end to the need to wear sweaters inside of freezing movie theatres during the dog days of summer.
Finally, the proposals aim to improve building operations and maintenance through the training of building operators, regular
inspections, and periodic tune-ups of building systems.
GREEN Awareness = Efficiency
New York State studies have shown that metering tenant electrical use
in a multi-famliy building can reduce apartment electricity consumption by approximately 17%-27%.
Re-tune Large Buildings
Every Seven Years
Issue: Even the best-designed building systems drift away
from optimal performance over time, due to broken
parts, changes in use, and the accumulation of small
changes in procedures and equipment.
Recommendation: Every seven years, buildings larger than 50,000
square feet must be retro-commissioned, retuning the major building systems to ensure they all work together correctly. A similar proposal was incorporated into the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, which became law prior to the issuance of this report.
Measure Electricity Use in Tenant Spaces
Issue: Because electricity is often unmetered in
commercial tenant spaces, tenants are unaware of
the energy they consume. This, in turn, can lead to
excessive use and waste.
Recommendation: All new commercial tenant spaces of 10,000 square feet or larger shall be metered for electricity. A
similar proposal was incorporated into the Greener,
Greater Buildings Plan, which became law prior to
the issuance of this report.
Train Building Operators in Energy Efficiency
Issue: Current requirements for building operators do
not include training in efficient building operations,
energy efficiency, or monitoring of overall building
Recommendation: In buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, require operators to be trained and certified for energyefficient
operations. Fund a study to establish the
appropriate training and certification requirements.