Green Pioneers At the Cutting Edge of "Greening"

 Going green doesn’t have anything to do with choosing a natural paint color for your kitchen, or  planting herbs in your community garden. But the phrase can have many different  meanings and can be done across a broad spectrum. Turning off lights in rooms  you’re not occupying is a small green move; installing a gigantic wind turbine on  your building’s rooftop is a bigger one. Different communities throughout New York place green  practices and programming at different positions on their lists of priorities—and the steps they take depend on funding, community interest, feasibility and  other factors.  

 A Greener State of Mind

 Co-op and condominium boards are getting the message that green is not only good  for the environment, it is also good for the balance sheet. “Particularly in New York City there is a lot of growing awareness about going  green,” says Marc Zuluaga, P.E., vice president and director of Multifamily Energy  Services for the New York-based energy consulting firm Steven Winter  Associates. “Major benefits include reduced operating costs, mitigation of risks associated  with energy commodity fluctuations, improved reliability of equipment, improved  comfort and improved indoor air quality and resident quality of life.”  

 While associations and boards might want to go green, the city is not giving all  of them a chance, explains Zuluaga. New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP) targets energy efficiency in large  existing buildings. The GGBP was designed, in part, to ensure that information  about energy is provided to decision-makers and that the most cost-effective  energy efficiency measures are pursued. Zuluaga made special mention of Local  Law 84 which requires large buildings to annually benchmark their energy  performance and Local Law 87 that requires buildings conduct an energy audit  and retro-commissioning every 10 years.  

 “There is often a champion on a board interested in green-energy issues,” says Zuluaga. “Sustainability committees are also becoming more common. While these folks can  result in initial interest, all the more mainstream decision-makers on a board  still need to be brought along.”  

 Allan Samuels, president of Energy Squared, an engineering consultant based in  North Brunswick, New Jersey, sees more green opportunities than challenges for  New York City. “New York, and its neighbor New Jersey has fantastic green, sustainable  opportunities that can save buildings lots of money,” he says. Working with multifamily residential facilities, developers as well as  commercial and industrial property owners, the firm provides mechanical,  electrical and plumbing designs, specifications, building performance modeling,  energy simulations and renewable energy services. “Compared to the rest of the country, New York has some of the best incentives,” he says adding that his company is currently working with 20 to 30 multifamily  buildings that are benefiting from tapping into sustainable initiatives.  


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  • You really don't have to buy anintyhg special to use green cleaners. In fact, some of the most green cleaners are not commercial cleaners at all. Baking soda, washing soda, vinegar, borax, toothpaste, and bar soaps (like Ivory), will all do a great job cleaning around the house. The idea that these things don't work as well as the comercial cleaners, or at all for that matter, is simply deeply ingrained marketing. I have often been dumbfounded by how well these simple household things work, almost like magic.When I do buy a green cleaner, my favorite brand is Bi-O-Kleen. I've had great success with their laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner. The best part about this brand is that most of their products are concentrated quite a bit (3x consentrated for both the laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner), so there is less packaging and more product. As a bonus, a bottle of Bi-O-Kleen laundry detergent or all-purpose cleaner cost less than a bottle of their nonconcentrated traditional counterparts. I've used the laundry detergent exclusively for about two years, and my clothes are as clean as anyones. The all-purpose cleaner is truly all-purpose. I've used to to clean the everyday stuff like kitchen and bathroom, and nasty stuff like the oven and grill. We even use it when we rent a carpet cleaner in place of the expensive carpet cleaning solutions. Other brands I buy currently:Seventh Generation -Their products all work really well, but are pricey, so I don't use them as often.Bon Ami Hands down the best scouring agent around, and it's non-toxic. I'm not sure how green it is, but compared to Comet brand, it's a step in the right direction.