We all know that famous anatomical ditty: “The head bone’s connected to the neck bone”—and so on. ( I imagine that those indelible lyrics have pulled more than a few aspiring doctors through their biology exams). But when it comes to co-op and condo buildings, there’s no such song to educate board members about the physical skeleton of their building structures. Perhaps there should be.
Besides the obvious physical aspects of a multi-family building—things like the walls, ceilings, windows, roof, etc.—there are the less visible components that are just as vital to the functioning of the building. These are major mechanical components, such as furnaces, boilers, A/C chillers, and so forth. Think of them as organs.
It’s easy to tell when a carpet is cleaned, a storm window is replaced, or a leaky faucet is fixed, but when a boiler is installed, you probably pay no mind. With the proliferation of “green” technology and rising concerns about fuel costs and environmental impact, however, manufacturers are beginning to take the green movement into account when designing and marketing equipment to co-op and condo buildings. So, no, maybe it won’t improve the look of the lobby, but greener, cleaner technology can show up in other ways—like in the form of a decreased utility bill. Now someone should write a song about that.
Water is vital to human existence. It also seems to be the common denominator in these major mechanical components. And according to Gerald Hirsch of the Water Group, LLC, in Brooklyn, recent advances in water treatment technology could offer significant energy and water savings.
“According to national statistics, up to 70 percent of a building’s maintenance costs are related to cooling and heating systems,” says Hirsch. “Even in areas such as New York City, which has relatively soft water, many are not familiar with the energy inefficiencies that typically result from scale buildup on the heat transfer surfaces, cooling towers, and boilers. Building owners are spending thousands of dollars a year in extra costs relating to energy and water wastage. With energy and water prices on the rise, this becomes a much more significant consideration for owners and managers.”