Making it Easier to be Green
Green design includes energy conservation, but that's not what it's all about. It's about having good air quality both indoors and outdoors, making the environments in which we work, live, study and play healthier and more comfortable and conserving all of our natural resources.
This site will provide a balanced, holistic view that includes advice about saving energy, water and other natural resources, improving indoor air quality, using environmentally responsible design and construction techniques and minimizing waste.

I will be focusing on interiors for three reasons:

  • We spend about 90% of our time indoors.
  • Buildings in the United States annually consume about 30% of our total energy and 75% of our electricity.
  • As a New York State Certified Interior Designer and a LEED Accredited Professional, I want to share my knowledge and expertise with you.
Sustainable design and construction can be done in many different styles and using a wide variety of materials. There are examples of healthy, sustainable, comfortable and inviting interiors for commercial, not-for-profit and residential clients on the web site for Interior Design Solutions.
You can use the labels on the sidebar to locate entries that you want to read. For instance, most people might want to look at the entries for "Green Homes," but "Green Finance" would be of more interest to professionals involved in the design, construction, management, financing and marketing of buildings.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New York City Energy Conservation Legislation

On Wednesday the New York City Council enacted legislation to dramatically reduce the energy use and carbon footprint of buildings. These bills are a cornerstone of PlaNYC, because building energy use is responsible for nearly 80% of total CO2 emissions.

Three out of the four bills only apply to buildings over 50,000 square feet, and do not apply to individual residences within those buildings. While it might seem fairer to enact bills that affect all building sizes and types equally, such legislation would be virtually unenforceable. Although only 2% of buildings in New York City are over 50,000 square feet they account for 45% of the total energy used by all buildings, so just focusing on these buildings for most of the legislation actually makes a great deal of sense.

The bills include:

1. Int. 564-A. This is the only one of the bills that applies equally to buildings of all sizes and types. It creates a New York City Energy Conservation Code that is more stringent than the current New York State Energy Code. This bill closes a significant loophole in the New York State Energy Code by requiring that all renovations must comply with the Code and meet greater efficiency requirements, not just those that impact at least 50% of a building subsystem. It is extremely important, since most renovations in New York City typically happen on a piecemeal basis, rather than building-wide.

2. Int. 0967. This requires auditing and retro-commissioning of buildings over 50,000 square feet every ten years. Buildings that have demonstrated superior efficiency, such as Energy Star Buildings, will be exempt, and tenant spaces within residential buildings will not be included in the auditing and retro-commissioning. This bill is effective immediately, but the first reports are not due until 2013. Energy audits are comprehensive evaluations of energy efficiency, broken down by system, and normally include recommendations for cost-effective changes. Retro-commissioning is a process of testing building systems and controls and identifying those that are not functioning properly. Retro-commissioning identifies maintenance and operations issues, and making the recommended changes often results in a significant payback in a matter of months.

3. Int. 0973. This requires buildings of 50,000 sq. ft. or more to upgrade lighting systems to meet energy code standards and to install sub-metering when non-residential tenant spaces 10,000 square feet or greater are renovated. The bill does not require sub-metering to be used as that basis of allocating energy costs, but a tenant who will be sub-metered and who will be incorporating energy efficiency measures into the new space will be likely to want to be billed for electricity based upon actual usage, rather than on a square foot basis. Lighting retrofits typically pay for themselves within two years. Lighting of all areas other than those occupied by residential tenants must meet energy-efficiency requirements by the end of 2022.

4. Int. 0476-A. This requires owners of buildings 50,000 sq. ft. or more to conduct an annual benchmark analysis of energy and water consumption and to report the results. The primary tool used for benchmarking will be the Environmental Protection Agency's Portfolio Manager. While the potential impact of this bill may not be immediately apparent, the City of New York will make the results available to potential tenants, purchasers, and lenders. So this fairly innocuous looking piece of legislation may make energy retrofits a financial, if not a legal, necessity.