New legislation and a push by the city fathers to make New York City buildings more energy-efficient has thrown the gauntlet down for New Yorkers to also become more energy-conscious. Wouldn’t it be great if residents decided to take the lead and make energy-saving changes in their apartments as well? Of course it would.
Although some residents leap at the chance to save money and conserve energy, apathy and resistance to change are major obstacles for many. The reality is that in a co-op or condo setting, building administrators aren't in a position to force changes in individual units. So while state and local governments implement energy-saving incentive programs and more buildings are being built or retrofitted with next-generation energy-saving devices and technology, the day-to-day habits of individual unit owners and shareholders can have a significant impact on a building’s bottom line when it comes to energy costs. And that’s not always a good thing.
Awareness of Value
To reach residents, experts agree you must first reach ‘their’ bottom line. “Money is a motivator,” says Frank Lauricella, director of business development with The Daylight Savings Company in Goshen, New York. “You create awareness by telling unit owners that your board is looking for ways to reduce your energy costs and making property more valuable.”
In buildings with rental tenants, creating awareness may be a little more difficult. “When it comes to their apartments, renters have a transitory outlook,” says Jerry Pindus of U.S. Energy Group in Fresh Meadows. “The message we try to share is that it’s the planet that matters and that is important regardless of which apartment you live in. We try to appeal to the notion of shared responsibility; but ultimately, since they aren’t directly saving money, it is more difficult to motivate action. However, a lot of New Yorkers care about the environment, and if you tell them how they can help, they will.”
Whether or not residents make changes also depends on whether or not the building is master-metered, which means the residents’ energy costs are included as part of their monthly charge. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), along with Con Edison and a host of other energy providers offer their customers incentives to save. But “in a master-metered building, it’s hard to get a Con Ed or NYSERDA rebate because they don’t get an electric bill,” says David F. Bomke, executive director of the New York Energy Consumers Council (NYECC) in New York City. As a result, there isn’t a great incentive to change, he says.