To comply with the Greener Greater Buildings Plan, large commercial buildings in New York City with multiple tenants will have to install sub-metering. This is a good practice for any high-performing building, not just those which have to meet regulations. Sub-metering means that each tenant will have a separate meter that can be read independently of other tenants' meters. This allows the property owner to see the location of the highest energy sources. It also allows tenants to analyze their own usage.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy and New York State strongly recommend the use of Energy Star appliances. Some appliances can qualify for federal tax credits. Improving insulation, roofs, water heaters, windows and doors are among the measures that can repay an owner 30% of purchasing costs up to $1,500. Certain heat pumps and solar systems are eligible for a 30% tax credit with no upper limit. (More about Energy Star.) Energy Star has several resources for contractors, including information about efficient air sealing, insulation and HVAC systems. (Go to contractor resources.) Building owners can also use Energy Star's Portfolio Manager to analyze their energy performance. (Go to the Portfolio Manager.)
An efficient building will encourage its residents to choose low-energy commuting options. Owners can save on energy costs by emphasizing stair use, which will minimize elevator use. While renovating, owners can consider ways to direct pedestrian traffic towards stairs. A responsible building will also offer facilities for bicycles, an easy addition during renovation. For buildings with parking spots, carpooling and electric vehicle use can be rewarded with preferred parking or other incentives.
New York City encourages building owners to paint their rooftops with a light-colored reflective coating. This allows the building to repel sunlight and also allows it to give off absorbed heat. This will reduce the need to provide additional cooling for the top floors of buildings, therefore cutting down energy costs for building owners. For more information on Cool Roofs, visit New York City's website.
As part of PlaNYC, New York will expand incentives for solar energy. For the first three years of the program, 35% of installation costs will be refunded to property owners in the form of property tax abatements. The rebate will drop to 20% for the fourth and fifth years of the program. New York is also working to increase the electric grid capacity so that more solar power can be connected to it. The state also intends to increase the limit on how much excess solar-generated power a property owner can sell back to the utility companies. (More about solar energy in NYC.)
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy