Jackson Heights Co-ops Unite to Reduce Carbon Emissions

October 26, 2022

One century ago, Jackson Heights, Queenswas an incubator of new housing cooperatives and garden apartments. Today, many of its century-old housing co-ops are banding together to reduce the cost of cutting down their buildings. carbon dioxide emission – even if they do not come under the imminent requirements of Local Law 97.

“We organized a group of people from all 14 buildings,” says James McIntyrechairman of the board of one of the 14 pre-war cooperatives that Hawthorne Court. “We think it’s extremely important to take advantage of the incentives that exist to reduce carbon emissions, but we wanted a roadmap that gave up options. And we wanted to leverage the economy by integrating multiple buildings.”

They were helped by a local neighborhood group called the Queens Climate Project, whose mission, in the words of one member, is to “share information, education and support network”. The project introduced Hawthorne Court Co-ops to the New York City Accelerator.

This free municipal service helps building owners navigate the maze of carbon-reducing retrofits and incentives to pay for them. The 14 cooperatives were twinned with Ian Becker, an Accelerator account manager. “Our role,” says Becker, “is to help boards, shareholders and property managers make their buildings more energy efficient. Hawthorne Court Co-ops wanted to work with the other buildings in the complex, which are basically the same. They decided to use the Low-Carbon Capital Planning program.

This program, managed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will collect as much as 75% the cost of a energetic audiencewhich must focus on how to move building systems from fossil fuels to efficient electrical technologyor how to prepare buildings for electrification. Boards of co-ops and condominiums can use audits to satisfy Local Law 87 and/or chart ways to comply with Local Law 97. (The former law requires buildings over 50,000 square feet to undergo an energy audit every 10 years; the latter law will require homeowners to reduce emissions of carbon emissions from their buildings below certain ceilings or liable to fines, from 2024.)

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Jackson Heights Co-ops brought in Light poweran energy and water management company, to conduct a Level 2 Audit developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. This level of auditing, which satisfies Local Law 87, will document all existing equipment and its condition, then provide councils with options to reduce both energy consumption and carbon emissions.

“It’s a win-win situation,” says Jeff Perlman, CEO of Bright Power. “Councils can comply with Local Law 87, and develop a plan for Local Law 97. This is a planning exercise, as these renovations will not happen overnight.”

Bright Power is now preparing to carry out the audits and expects a final report to be ready in early 2023. The disbursement of cooperatives is $8,500 – which all 14 cooperatives unanimously approved – and the NYSERDA grant covers the rest of the $34,000 price tag. Then the co-ops will have to agree on their next step. Electrical upgrades? Solar panels? Electric heat pumps? “The audit,” says NYC Accelerator’s Becker, “will allow them to identify measures they can implement.”

McIntyre, who works for a nonprofit lender that funds green projects, knows the incentives don’t stop at the state level. The federal Inflation Reduction Act put aside $27 billion launch a national green bankwhich will help fund renewable energy projects nationwide.

“A lot of buildings in New York currently don’t comply with Local Law 97,” McIntyre says, “but there will be massive incentives to get the work done. I want my co-op ready for that IRA money.” .

MAIN ACTORS — ENERGY CONSULTANTS: Bright Power and NYC Accelerator. PROPERTY MANAGER: Garden Heights Property Management.