December 27, 2016

Energy Efficiency: It’s All About the People

By Pamela Berns

BENYC Conference

BENYC Conference

After attending four panel discussions and taking several turns around vendor exhibit floor of the 2016 BuildingEnergyNYC conference, one thing became perfectly clear. When it comes to sustainability and energy efficiency, there is no shortage of tools: codes, incentives, certifications, technology, data collection, and some incredibly innovative products and services. But the biggest takeaway was the the need to clearly decipher this complex landscape in order to achieve meaningful behavior change among all the stakeholders involved. Said Saheel Chandrani, Senior Account Executive at Johnson Controls, “The big thing we miss out on is the people.”   The Challenge According to Richard Yancey, Executive Director of the Building Energy Exchange, “The educational issue is a big component” in achieving sustainability compliance among building owners. “People are scared of doing things differently.” Mike Davis, Senior Program Officer at the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), feels it’s especially important to provide a clear understanding of available resources in order to help owners “navigate the space.” Chandrani described things from the tenant’s viewpoint: “How do you use energy data to get people to care? That’s the hardest part.”   Showcasing the success of New York City’s increasingly stringent energy codes is an effective way to reinforce positive behaviors already taking form. Sean Brennan, Research Manager at the Urban Green Council said, “The key is making sure the message gets out to the public, so they know it’s working.” But Roya Kazemi, Director of the GreeNYC program at Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, sees “voluntary behavior change as the missing part as the code gets developed.” Danielle Spiegel-Feld, Executive Director at the Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law, NYC School of Law, is concerned that there’s “very little knowledge in consumer markets that the data even exists.” One reason she says is that “it’s buried” on the “not user-friendly, not heavily trafficked New York City Department of Finance website.”

Photo from DCAS

  Messaging Do’s and Don’ts In addition to creating platforms for more for accessible information, framing the story in a context that stakeholders can relate to is key. Kazemi said that the environmental message isn’t always effective and that “being heavy handed with guilt and fear and shame doesn’t work.” Yancey warned against a “saving the polar bears” message for tenants, and suggested a focus on benefits such as comfort and well-being. Phil Madnick, Program Manager at Con Edison’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency program, cautioned against “go[ing] in there and talk[ing] about climate change” with building managers, who are more interested in the bottom lin. Loic Chappoz, Project Manager at NYSERDA, believes that property owner-managers will “respond to a good business case.” And Kazemi stressed the importance of making “wonky academic speak accessible” to all stakeholders. (more…)

February 23, 2016

Don’t Miss the BuildingEnergy Boston 2016 Conference

By: F. L. Andrew Padian andy PadianIt may be hard to believe, but NESEA’s Building Energy Conference is less than 2 weeks away, March 8-10.  Yes, another year has passed.  We’re sending you a heads up on five session to see at a minimum.  There are other reasons to come, but these are mine.  To sweeten the pot, NESEA has created a special promotion code for you to use. With this code:  FRIENDOFNESEA (note that this code is case sensitive), your friends and colleagues will receive $25 off the non-member workshop, conference and trade show pass pricing (this does not include NESEA Night). The code should be entered into the “discount code” field at the top of the registration page.   Tuesday, March 8 – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm:  Diagnosing and Air Sealing Large Commercial and Institutional Buildings The always interesting, informative and entertaining Larry Harmon’s air sealing in commercial buildings session should be on your calendar. Larry’s session will focus on both air leakage and thermal deficiencies.  He’ll discuss how, when, where and why to test; how to determine if there is a problem; how to fix what is found and finally, how to test again to be sure the problem was solved.  In addition to the building science nitty gritty, topics will include how to choose appropriate materials, safety/OSHA considerations and how to ensure a quality installation. (more…)

March 17, 2014

{Green Careers} March 2014 Recap – The BuildingEnergy Conference

By Gregory Thomas   On Tuesday, March 4th, GreenHomeNYC’s Green Careers group held its third meeting of the year. This time in Boston, Massachusetts during the BuildingEnergy 2014 (BE14) conference.
BE14 - OpeningForum

Matthew Cavanaugh Photography

  BuildingEnergy, run by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (or NESEA, an affiliate of GreenHomeNYC), is a conference and trade show where professionals across the renewable energy and building performance industries gather to build, shape, and share their visions of a sustainable built environment. Attended by educators, emerging professionals, building owners and industry leaders, amongst others, it is an event where people have the opportunity to network, learn about cutting-edge technologies and methodologies, gain continuing education credits, and even grill high-caliber startups on what makes their product better than the competition, as happened at the Opening Forum of this year’s conference. As a relative newcomer to GreenHomeNYC, NESEA, and the building performance industry in general, I was excited to experience every aspect of this conference over the three days it took place, from March 4th through March 6th. Let me highlight just a few of my favorite experiences of the conference.


October 5, 2013

The Green Spotlight on BE NYC: Christopher Diamond

Countdown to BE NYC! With only11days until the conference, GreenHomeNYC is shining the spotlight on the experts who will be making BE NYC an exceptional industry event!   One of the professionals participating in the conference is Christopher Diamond.   Chris-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.  BENYC-featuredimage CLICK HERE to register for BE NYC. For more information on workshop sessions, sponsoring and exhibiting at BE NYC, CLICK HERE.   Interview conducted by Steve Knight.   To know more about GHNYC’s The Green Spotlight, CLICK HERE!  

October 3, 2013

Countdown to BuildingEnergy NYC

For 2013, a bigger, more diverse conference BENYC-featuredimage Discover how your buildings can be energy efficient, resilient and profitable at BuildingEnergy NYC (BE NYC) on Wednesday, October 16, 2013. With 24 fully-accredited sessions (AIA, BPI & USGBC) and five pre-conference workshops on October 15th, you’ll be able to cover timely topics like next steps in renewables, addressing air leakage in large buildings, new NYC Codes for resilience, cogeneration and more.   We’ve got an outstanding group of speakers for BE NYC. Here’s a sample: Les Bluestone, Blue Sea Development Warren Liebold, NYC Department of Environmental Protection Pat Logan, Enterprise Community Partners Dan Rieber, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation Scott Schultz, Advanced Solar Products Steven Winter, Steven Winter Associates   Get equipped with practical information and inspired for a sustainable future.   Register HERE   BE NYC is co-presented by GreenHomeNYC the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, and enjoys sponsorship from such notable organizations as The Community Preservation Corporation, The Natural Resources Defense Council, NYSERDA, ConEdison, NixonPeabody and The Bluestone Organization.   HalfHouseHurricane Sandy: Point Taken – read Conference Chair Andy Padian’s BuildingEnergy Magazine story on urban resilience.          

September 20, 2013

The Green Spotlight on BE NYC: Pat Logan

Countdown to BE NYC!

With only25days until the conference, GreenHomeNYC is shining the spotlight on the experts who will be making the BE NYC an exceptional industry event!

One of the professionals participating in the conference is PAT LOGAN.   Pat Logan jpgPat Logan is Director of Project Finance in the New York office of Enterprise Community Partners, a nationwide nonprofit focused on creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income people through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities.   Pat will be appearing at BE NYC on a panel titled “Real Financing, Real Quick (Financing for People With Short Attention Spans),” which is part of the conference’s Multifamily track.  Pat’s scheduled co-panelists are: John Skipper from Con Edison; Lindsay Robbins from NYSERDA; Chris Diamond from NYC Energy Efficiency Corp.; Sadie McKeown from Community Preservation Corp.; Lou Rizzo from National Grid; and Jesse Elton from LISC.   Pat’s interest in financing affordable housing comes from his longtime commitment to the public sector.  He attended Fordham University first as an undergraduate, then earned a master’s degree there in international political economy and development.  This was followed by a stint as an 8th grade teacher at St. Elizabeths in Washington Heights and an after-school program instructor in the Fordham section of the Bronx, where he made connections that eventually led to a position on the development team of a local nonprofit, the Fordham Bedford Housing Corp.  Pat remains active in local community affairs to the present, serving on the board of the Bronx County Historical Society.   We sat down with Pat and talked about how he hopes to contribute to his BE NYC panel’s mission to introduce the audience to various funding and grant opportunities for retrofits and/or audits leading to energy-efficient renovations: (more…)

December 1, 2012

An Invitation to BuildingEnergy NYC from NESEA & GreenHomeNYC Board Member, and Community Preservation Corporation’s VP of Energy Initiatives Andy Padian

By now you’ve probably heard – NESEA and its NYC Chapter, GreenHomeNYC, have assembled a slate of local experts and owners to help those involved with multifamily buildings in New York City get a leg up the new requirements and learn the best, most profitable path forward for their buildings. We’re calling this project “BuildingEnergy NYC”, and it’s this Saturday December 1st at Hunter College in Manhattan from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.NYC has enacted one of the boldest initiatives for sustainability in large buildings in the country. Known as the Greener Greater Buildings Plan, it focuses on buildings over 50,000 square feet. In New York City, many more multifamily buildings than office buildings fall into this category, so the new laws become particularly important to these multifamily owners. We wanted to bring BuildingEnergy to New York City to fill a very critical information gap around this process.This one-day conference combines an understanding of the benchmarking and energy auditing requirements set by the City, with the best technical information and first-hand experience on exactly how to save money in multifamily buildings through reduced energy and water usage. Considering our recent brush with Hurricane Sandy, running your building efficiently, safely, and emphasizing resilience is more urgent than ever. In short, we’ve got the information you need, and  people you really need to hear it from. (more…)

November 7, 2012

BuildingEnergy NYC

High Performance, Low Cost Multifamily Buildings SAT. 12/01/2012 AT CUNY HUNTER COLLEGE The housing and energy efficiency worlds are coming together for BuildingEnergy New York City. Join us at Hunter College to learn from and with other professionals about understanding energy usage and City policy requirements to make better multifamily buildings. If you’re after useful, accessible technical learning and great networking opportunities, you need to be here. Who Should Attend: Building Owners, Superintendents, Building Staff, Energy Geeks, Students and other interested professionals. Conference Agenda 8:30-9:30 – Registration, Coffee 9:30-10:15 – Welcome from Key Sponsors, Short Keynote 10:15-10:30 – Break 10:30-12:00 – First 3 concurrent sessions 12:00-1:00 – Bag Lunch 1:00-2:30 – Second 3 concurrent sessions 2:30-2:45 – Break 2:45-4:15 – Third 3 concurrent sessions 4:15-6:00 – Networking Reception Sessions We honestly couldn’t fit any more multifamily learning into a Saturday (we tried). CLICK HERE to browse the tracks and their sessions below, and remember, you can go to as many as you like with your conference pass. Sponsors GreenhomeNYC NYSAFAH

March 1, 2012

NESEA’s BE12 is Next Week!

It’s almost time for NESEA’s BuidingEnergy – the most established and most cross-disciplinary renewable energy and high performance building conference in the region, March 6-8 at the Boston Seaport World Trade Center,

With an expected 4,000 attendees, this year’s BuildingEnergy has an impressive contingency of people from our state participating in the conference’s 80 accredited educational sessions and high-level trade show. Hailing from NY are 24 Speakers, 7 Planning Committee Members and a handful of Exhibitors.

NESEA Night, aboard the “Spirit of Boston” for dinner and a cruise around the Boston Harbor, presents the perfect opportunity to get to know these sustainable rock stars and other regional professionals – architects, engineers, builders, policymakers, developers and building managers – in the energy efficiency and renewables sectors.

Hope to see you there!

February 1, 2012

Tools to Improve Your Sustainable Knowledge and Business at NESEA BE 2012

Every year around this time, I write to implore folks to come to the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) Building Energy (BE) Conference in Boston, March 6-8. Over the last 35+ years, the best minds in the Northeast have annually gotten together to help building owners, architects, engineers, planners, building scientists, facility managers, and plain old people understand what is happening in the industry of new construction and rehab/retrofit of buildings at BE. You’ll hear from the best people in concentrated tracks talk about the cutting edge in: single family homes; renewable energy; multifamily buildings; campus and community buildings; health care; mechanicals and renewable heating systems; green financing; game changers; an entire track dedicated to working within whole systems in action; and for you smarty pants in the group, a track for you, “What the Pros Wanna Know”. (more…)