A new report from the Citizens Housing & Planning Council (CHPC) titled “All Green Buildings Great and Small” finds that smaller and older NYC rental buildings are missing out on energy efficiency retrofits and other green opportunities that could make it tougher for Mayor Bill de Blasio to realize his “Built to Last” plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The organization’s Green Building Committee puts forward 10 recommendations that “can provide a bridge for significantly improving the energy efficiency of residential buildings.”
The recommendations are aimed at encouraging owners of small to mid-size rental buildings with five to 49 units start taking advantage of energy efficiency programs. Almost half of NYC’s apartments are located in buildings with fewer than 50 units, and 84 percent of those buildings were built before 1940. Getting smaller and older buildings on board could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions because they offer the greatest energy saving opportunities per unit.
CHPC finds that many of these owners are deterred from utilizing existing energy savings programs “by a lack of information, misaligned financial incentives, or insufficient capital.” In other words, they don’t understand the long-term operational benefits of energy efficiency retrofits.
Here are the ten industry recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of NYC’s rental housing stock:
1. Consolidate and clarify information to make it easier for owners to access available programs by providing a “one-stop shop” for services.
2. Design programs that make it easy for an owner to install energy improvements concurrent with other work that is part of their standard operations.
3. Help owners and managers to integrate good green practices into their existing management practices by providing training for maintenance staff and providing them with easy to use templates as they carry out their routine work.
4. Create programs that encourage owners to focus on the energy performance of their entire portfolios rather than concentrate all efforts on individual building performance.
5. Identify and actively promote carrot and stick approaches to energy efficiency that are well-proven, cost-effective, and easy to implement.
6. Conduct a demand-side survey of building owners to create energy efficiency programs that better respond to owners’ needs, interest, and capacity.
7. Design programs that are tailored to the subsectors within the multi-family sector. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work for a market that includes a diversity of owners and building types, and which splits incentives between owners and renters.
8. Avoid jargon in marketing the message.
9. Coordinate financing and incentive programs to eliminate overlapping and confusing financing and compliance requirements.
10. Use consistent metrics to describe performance results.
Hopefully, the new report will help the city, building owners, tenants and the environment once word spreads.
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