Month: October 2014

Benchmarking The Way of the Future?

The Way of the Future?

By Danielle Braff

Energy is money. And in big co-op apartment or condo buildings, energy is big money—we’re talking thousands upon thousands of dollars in waste…or savings. Most folks know that turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, taking shorter showers, and turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees can help save energy—and by extension, money. Helping an entire building cut costs and reduce its carbon footprint can be a little trickier, however—which is why many co-op and condo buildings hire professional energy consultants to assess their energy profile and make recommendations as to how it might be improved.

It is very important for boards and management to understand what the energy consultants are looking for when assessing their building, and how they work with the boards and managers to suggest and to implement greener, money-saving measures for buildings of every size. There are also legal issues that must be taken into account when dealing with residential buildings in New York City.
Local Laws Enacted

In 2009, former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg enacted Local Laws 84 and 87 as part of his New York City Greener, Greater Buildings Plan initiative. New Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is committed to continuing the reforms in the PlaNYC initiative.

“The overall goal of these laws was and is to promote a citywide reduction in energy consumption,” says George Crawford, principal of Green Partners, a New York State Energy Research & Development (NYSERDA)-approved energy efficiency consultant company specializing in cost-effective strategies for buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. “Benchmarking information and scores can be helpful in evaluating a buildings’ energy performance,” Crawford says. “Below-average benchmarking scores can signal excessive energy consumption.”

Respectively, Local Law 84 requires the annual benchmarking for precisely these buildings, and applies to multifamily buildings, as well as commercial and not-for-profit properties. Failure to file reports results in violations and fines. Local Law 87 requires that buildings greater than 80,000 square feet perform an American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Level II energy audit and a retro-commissioning once every 10 years.

The timing for these audits is based on the last number of the block for each building. For example, says Crawford, a building with a block number ending in a 4 must file an audit report by the end of 2014. If the block ends in a 5, the report has to be filed by the end of 2015. The reports must be performed by a properly credentialed and licensed energy professional such as a professional engineer (PE) with a certified energy manager (CEM) accreditation.

Together, these two laws are meant to demonstrate to both the state and the building itself how much energy, the building is using. If it’s using too much, it should be corrected, says Frank Lauricella, director of business development with The Daylight Savings Company, an energy-efficiency engineering company based in Goshen, New York. “By collecting current utility data and using the EPA’s Portfolio Manager, a building’s energy consumption score can be evaluated relative to similar facilities,” Lauricella says. “Benchmarking can provide a cursory view of potential savings.”

If the building has a very high energy use intensity—or a low score—it suggests that energy improvements are very likely to have a high impact, he explains.

By virtue of Local Law 87, which is a very comprehensive energy assessment, the building will be able to identify energy saving measures and opportunities that may range from low cost (i.e., changing thermostat set points) to very capital intensive options (installing a new boiler, for example), Lauricella says. “The report will include the cost to implement, the energy savings, the cost savings and payback periods for each measure,” he says….


Top 10 Energy Tips

Top 10 Energy Tips
Good Advice Makes Saving Simpler

By Keith Loria

There’s probably not a condo, HOA or co-op board that doesn’t worry about money at some point or another, which is why staying on top of the latest money-saving opportunities is vital for any building or community to be successful. One of the biggest ways to save money is to cut energy costs, and there are a number of things that can be done to achieve that.

“Probably the most important thing an existing building can do to improve energy efficiency and sustainable strategies is to get buy-in and an overarching commitment from the owners or management company,” says Kelsey Mullen, director of residential business development for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). “If sustainability is a priority, the building owners will have a better time justifying the initial expense of green measures. Yes, these measures do cost additional money, but the payback time can be very attractive.”

It’s not just those in charge who can make a difference. Individual residents can do their part in saving energy and money, and at the same time reduce their carbon footprint and help to preserve the environment.

“If residents ask for greener buildings, the industry will respond and create more,” Mullen says. “We are seeing a difference in demand for green in the new home and new apartment market. More of this type of demand will create more supply of what tenants want.”

Here are 10 tips from top energy experts that can help with energy cost savings.

1: Get an energy audit: An energy audit is an assessment of your building’s insulation, heating/cooling equipment, and overall “envelope” can help you figure out what improvements to make first. A professional will analyze the building and recommend a set of measures to improve energy performance.

“These might include the commissioning of mechanical equipment (and tuning the equipment to operate optimally), air sealing the exterior, replacing inefficient fixtures or bulbs, etc.,” Mullen says. “This audit is the best strategy for making the best decisions. Without this you might make some good decisions but with an audit you’ll better understand the most impactful things you could be doing.”

2: Think of Common Areas:It is essential that board members develop energy conservation plans for common areas and administration facilities that address sustainability and economy. “Install switch plate ‘occupancy sensors’ in proper locations to automatically turn lighting off when no one is present, and back on when people return,” says Deborah Fleischer, president of Green Impact, a leader in helping communities with sustainability methods. “This can be done in community rooms, hallways and any common areas that aren’t always in use.” Additionally, installing a programmable thermostat for heating and air conditioning in these areas will help save as well, as they can be lowered during downtimes. Fleischer adds that eliminating “vampire energy” by unplugging printers, electronics and other devices when not in use can save five to 15 percent in energy charges per month.

3: Install LED Lighting:A decade ago, installing LED lights got a lot of pushback because of their unpleasant bluish hue, and because the bulbs didn’t provide the brightness necessary to light hallways and rooms effectively. They’ve come a long way since however, and most experts see light-emitting diodes as the future of lighting. LED is an energy-efficient, semi-conducting light source and uses 75 percent less electricity than the standard incandescent light bulbs, and LED bulbs last 50 times longer than standard bulbs, saving you money. “This is really a revolution we are seeing,” said Terry McGowan, director of engineering and technology for the American Lighting Association. “LED offer more energy savings compared to other types of bulbs, which means it doesn’t consume as much power. Furthermore, it is offering years of service since LEDs will last a maximum of…

NYREJ-25 Year Anniversary Q&A: Carmelo Milio, CPM

NYREJ-25 Year Anniversary Q&A: Carmelo Milio

Name: Carmelo Milio, CPM

Title: President & Director of Property Management

Company Name: Trion Real Estate Management

Year Founded: 2002

Years with Company: 14

Years in real estate industry: 20

Q: The approximate number of years you have been a subscriber and/or how the NYREJ has been a benefit to you and/or your business.

A: I have been a subscriber since 2009. NYREJ has been a benefit to us by helping us expand our management portfolio through advertising and also has been a platform for me to share my real estate management expertise with the rest of its subscribers through the many articles that I have written for the NYREJ.

Q: The approximate year you discovered the NYREJ and what business you were in at the time:

A: 2009 Trion Real Estate Management-Property Management.

Q: Your most memorable “15 minutes of fame” in the NYREJ:

A: Executive of the Month June 2014.

Improving your properties marketability

Improving your properties marketability and value by improving its reputation

by:Carmelo Milio, Trion Real Estate Management

Marketability, defined as in demand by buyers or renters; salable. It is the responsibility of all the residents, owners and managers to maintain your properties marketability and value. Association Times’ Staff Writer| Residents often forget that their property is a business, their home a product of the business, and that they have the power to affect the value of their property, not just by paying to maintain it but by how they interact with their residents and neighbors. Experts say that most people buy from an emotional perspective. That is why the environment of a property is so often a factor when buying or renting a unit. Buyers and renters want to like their property, no matter if their property is an apartment building, co-op or condominiums. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to help build a strong and positive property reputation – it helps owners market and sell their home!

When criticism grows and people are careless with the tone and content of their complaints, the word gets out that the property is full of “negativity” or “poorly run”. It gets out through Realtors, rental agents, employees and contractors – and the residents themselves as they chat with their friends and co-workers. Before we know it, the property that, for all intents and purposes is well run and well-funded, is not popular on the real estate sales and rental market. Why? Because buyers want to like their neighbors and management. They want to come home to a peaceful environment, so they move on and search for a place they find more peaceful.

I would like to use an example that has taken place at a condominium community where the overall marketability has been affected. The most common target for inappropriate and often unnecessary criticism is the board of directors or management. We often receive calls from owners (usually right after a maintenance fees increase) who are so unthoughtful in their communication it’s hard to believe they live next door or down the block from the people to whom they are referring. While it’s understandable to be concerned with the operation of the property, it is also interesting that all the hard work expended by the board to create the budget and foster a spirit of harmony can been negated by a few harsh words. Why the personal and very negative response? Probably because our emotions are attached to the value of our homes and we forget it is also a business investment.

How do we take the emotion out and focus on the business? We have found that education and shared experience help. Owners are often not aware of the time and research that goes into the business decisions the board makes. The board has probably gone to great lengths to explore all options before deciding on rule changes or the increase or changes to a budget. Concerned owners who wish to contribute to the value of their property should take the time to educate themselves first and then offer “constructive” input thereafter. Your managing agent, if applicable, is always there to help the owners understand the particulars of a problem and/or decision.

As manager, owners and board members it is very important that we put the property and community 1st at all times. The reputation that follows your property plays a major factor in its overall marketability regardless if your unit is for sale or for rent. Residents, management and ownership are all affected by a negative reputation so we must all work together to keep our buildings clean and address all concerns. At Trion Real Estate Management we take curb appeal and resident complaints very seriously. It is our #1 priority to be responsive to all the resident issues and maintain a friendly environment and efficiently ran community. If we all remember that our communities are also businesses and that our home is a “product” of the business, it’s easy to see…