November 28, 2017
It’s been five years since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, leaving a trail of destruction in the New York area. During the “Building Towards Resilience” Green Building Tours event, Henry Gifford of Chris Benedict R.A., led a tour through 327 and 334 East 8th Street – two Lower East Side buildings that were affected by the hurricane – providing a firsthand look at renovations that were made in the aftermath of the natural disaster.
The tour began in the noisy basement of 334 East 8th Street, with a description of the damage after Hurricane Sandy, including the conditions that the workers had to endure. The elevator in this building is not counteracted by weights to lift the elevator car, but instead uses oil mixed with other chemicals in a hydraulic elevator machine. As the water rose to about six feet above the basement floor, the oil and chemicals mixed with the flood waters, creating a hazardous condition for workers. The slippery mix of oil, water and sewage caused the superintendant to get a foot infection that landed him in the hospital for three days.(more…)
February 3, 2017GreenHomeNYC launched another year of monthly forums with the annual Green Catwalk, featuring seven speakers who discussed the latest “green” news. From Saudi Arabia to New York City, challenges remain. But, in New York, in particular, much is being done to overcome them. The speakers offered insight into what needs to happen in order achieve our climate goals, the progress we’ve made already, and the programs and opportunities that are in the works right now. Development in the Desert While New York City has its own sustainability goals and initiatives, we can’t forget that the climate crisis is a global one. Duncan Prahl of IBACOS, began by taking the audience to the opposite end of the earth, to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 2015, Riyadh became home to the first LEED-Platinum building in the Middle East. Designed to achieve a net-zero energy balance, it holds 28 kW of rooftop solar PV and has enough batteries to last 24 hours. After two years of serving as a high-level consultant on the project, Prahl shared his thoughts on the challenges of building to such standards in the desert: “I would never recommend doing that again… to anyone.” (more…)
December 1, 2016The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association held their annual Building Energy NYC conference on November 3, bringing together leaders in energy, building maintenance, real estate, policy, product, and new technologies. Many topics were discussed, but three of the main takeaways were long term planning, regional-district planning, and enhanced resiliency for the city of New York. In a talk by Jenna Tatum, Kate Gouin, Benjamin Mandel and John Lee from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the focus was on 80×50, the de Blasio administration’s commitment to reduce GHG emissions 80% from 2005 levels by 2050 (80×50). NYC’s Sustainability 80X50 plan states, “It is the level the UN projects is necessary to avert the most disastrous impacts of climate change.” The plan is essentially a roadmap that is broken into four areas of focus: Buildings, Energy Supply, Waste, and Transportation, with comprehensive reporting and modeling done for each category. Following are the four main takeaways of the plan’s goals in each sector. (more…)
February 24, 2016Reed Shapiro, Director of Business Development at Carbon Credit Capital, started the evening by making a case for integrating carbon offsets in the building industry. To avoid exceeding a global temperature increase of 2°C, broadly seen as the planetary tipping point for catastrophic impact from climate change, we need to look at the critical role that buildings play in greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings make up approximately 40% of the annual 5 BT U.S. greenhouse gas emissions: 15% through manufacturing, 83% through use, and the remainder through design, distribution, on-site operations, and demolition or refurbishment. (more…)
January 28, 2016
Water is a central aspect of all of our lives, and yet the complexities we face with managing it in a city of nearly 8.5 million people, often fly under the radar. Constantly supplying it, managing demand, keeping it clean, protecting ourselves from it (i.e. sewage, storms, sea level rise, etc), using it more efficiently and also teaching people about it, are all critically important to keeping such a massive city running. At a time where one American city is facing a major health crisis due to water contamination, we want to examine what is being done in our own city to keep us healthy and safe, and what we can do to support that. For our February Forum, we will hear about how the City of New York manages water in the present and the plans being pursued for the future.
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 Time: 6:30-8:00pm Place: Hafele America Co., 25 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010
To speak on this topic we are bringing in:
Vlada Kenniff, Managing Director of the Demand Management and Resiliency group in the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. She manages a portfolio of sustainability and resiliency projects that cover a Water Demand Management Program, Climate Resiliency Program, and Green Infrastructure Projects. In the last five years with the agency, Vlada worked on the Sustainable Storm Water Management Plan, Managed the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan, and the Water Demand Management Plan
Michele Moore, Senior Advisor to the VP of Disaster Recovery at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). She oversees over $3 billion in disaster recovery funds to repair and protect from future storms, over 33 NYCHA developments severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Looking at these 33 developments as campuses, Michele is part of a team working to change the way water is managed on these sites through NYCHA’s Stormwater Management Through Placemaking Initiative. Recently NYCHA was awarded funding for this initiative for our Sandy damaged developments on the Lower East Side of Manhattan through the National Disaster Resiliency Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
January 24, 2016Last year was a big one for the climate. Not only was 2015 the warmest year on record, we also witnessed the first universal agreement on climate change, negotiated at COP21, the global climate change talks held in Paris last December. The agreement includes a global warming limit of “well below 2°C”, with “efforts” to limit it to 1.5°C. Chinese President Xi Jinping said of the conference, “It is not a finish line, but a new starting point.” While his tone was optimistic, the language is tough to swallow and leaves many of us wondering why it took 21 years to arrive at the beginning. Meanwhile, our “safe threshold” for global warming has proven to be lower than predicted and our goals and policies remain so disconnected that it’s hard to discern what options remain at our disposal. So it begs the question: how much time do we have left to make the changes necessary to avoid catastrophe and what should be prioritized? (more…)
October 5, 2013days 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 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. 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!