Are you a building manager who wants to retrofit your building with energy-efficient lighting? Or maybe you're a board trying to re-do your central air conditioning system, but you don’t know if you have it in your budget? Thankfully, there are rebate and incentive programs to help you with the cost. These aren't necessarily brand-new or cutting-edge initiatives—many have been available for some time, but you do need to know where to look in order to take advantage of them.
Innovation After Crisis
At one time, electricity costs were so cheap that they weren’t even figured into building construction. Then came the energy crisis of the 1970s. Building managers panicked, and a whole new profession—that of the 'energy manager'—was created. Energy-efficient devices, especially lighting and HVAC, began to be put on the market, and these professionals helped buildings put them to use on their properties.
Today, that era of scarcity is over but the impetus to save energy, and thus money, is still there. The creation of the federal government’s Energy Star program in 1992 has been a big help. The program rates household appliances, HVAC systems and other items based on energy efficiency. These ratings are invaluable when seeking to make purchases or to upgrade equipment.
While there are costs to buying energy-efficient equipment, there is an assortment of incentive programs, in conjunction with associated loans and grants available, to help pay for them. Given that the whole idea of installing these items is savings, the measures typically pay for themselves within a few years.
“Some incentive programs in the New York area, like NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) have been around since the 1970s,” says Cecil Scheib, PE, CEM, LEED AP, GPRO, chief program officer of the Urban Green Council, a New York-based advocacy program. “Others, like NYCEEC, or the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (a non-profit allied with the city’s PlaNYC initiative) are new.