October 5, 2013
Countdown to BE NYC!
One of the professionals participating in the conference is Christopher Diamond.
Chris is Director of Engineering and Technical Analysis at the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC), an independent, non-profit financial corporation established by New York City to assist the City in implementing its Greener, Greater Buildings Plan and to advance the goals of PlaNYC. NYCEEC’s mission is to support the City’s energy and climate action goals by catalyzing an energy efficiency retrofit financing market for private building owners.
Chris earned a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) from Manhattan College, and Master of Science (Engineering) and Master of Architecture degrees from UC Berkeley. He will be one of seven industry professionals participating in the panel “Real Financing, Real Quick (Financing for People with Short Attention Spans),” which is part of BE NYC’s Multifamily track.
How did you become involved in this aspect of sustainability?
My career path seems a bit scattered, but there is a progression and along the way I’ve learned a variety of skills and perspectives that influence the work I do today. I started as a civil engineer designing gas stations in Southern California. Much of that work was tied to then-new environmental regulations including Title 24. Since the projects were small and quick paced, by the time I got to architecture school I had built more projects than most of my professors. After graduate school I worked for a boutique structural engineering firm on some high-profile projects, including Simmons Hall at MIT, the expansion to MoMA, and the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City. I then transitioned my career toward sustainability and energy efficiency and worked at an architectural firm and later Steven Winter Associates. The work I do today is integrating energy efficiency design and construction into the financing process. The breadth of my previous experience helps me clearly see the big picture.
What are the main reasons that your panel at BE NYC, “Real Quick (Financing for People With Short Attention Spans),” is important to someone trying to gain a better understanding of the sustainability field at large?
The excuse not to do an energy efficiency retrofit—even one with a great payback—is often a lack of financing. NYCEEC was established to eliminate that excuse and catalyze a financing market for energy efficiency. Financing can be very specific to the type of project under consideration and oftentimes people don’t know what is available. The format and collection of speakers on this panel will give the audience a great overview of the types of financing available for different types of projects. Spoiler Alert: In the end, if there’s a project that doesn’t fit into any of the categories we discuss, people should come talk to NYCEEC.
Can you mention one or two projects you’ve been involved with at NYCEEC that are pertinent to this panel discussion?
I’ve worked on two mortgage products in particular. The first is with the NYC Housing Development Corporation (so it’s limited to affordable housing). Over the summer we closed our first deal—with Franklin Plaza Apartments, a Mitchell Lama cooperative in Harlem—that is providing additional loan proceeds to incorporate energy efficiency into major renovations that were already planned. We’ve even been able to leverage a separate loan to do extra energy efficiency measures. The energy savings of these measures will go a long way to keeping the units more affordable for a long time into the future.
The second mortgage product is now rolling out with Fannie Mae. We’re working with some of their partner lenders to provide additional loan proceeds for energy efficiency improvements at the time of acquisition, refinancing, or even as a supplemental loan on top of an existing Fannie Mae mortgage. We’re fundamentally changing the way Fannie Mae underwrites loans: A portion of the projected energy and water cost savings can be used during the underwriting process.
What other discussions at the BE NYC conference are you most interested in attending?
The ones pertaining to resilience. The steps we’re taking with energy efficiency will only reduce the changes to our climate. Over the course of my lifetime and my children’s, we’ll need to learn to adapt and be resilient as well.
Interested in learning more from Christopher Diamond? Look for him at the Multifamily Track at BE NYC.
Interview conducted by Steve Knight.
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