Energy usage and cost savings are on everybody’s mind these days— especially those of us in charge of running our buildings, keeping them both comfortable and financially solvent. Each building community is unique, and boards and managers must come up with energy-saving programs that are the best possible fit for their residents, their administration, and their budget. Here are three examples of how different building managers and boards have met the challenges posed by today’s high energy costs.
“I’m particularly attuned to insuring that [our building community] makes strategically sound decisions regarding energy use,” says Arthur Zabarkes, managing director of Waterside Plaza, a 1,470 unit residential building on the banks of the East River in Manhattan. “And that our complex continues to be a ‘good energy citizen’ in the broader community,” Zabarkes says.
“As part of an extensive renovation and capital improvement plan, we explored ‘smart strategies’ regarding energy use with the help of ConsumerPowerline, a strategic energy asset management (SEAM) firm based in New York. One result was our decision to participate in the Demand Response program, committing to provide electricity back to the power grid in times of an energy emergency while being paid as if we were a mini-power plant.”
The demand response programs operated by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the reliable, safe and efficient operation of electric transmission and administer the wholesale power market, allows end-users to reduce their energy demands for a short period of time in exchange for payment to help the grid in times of crisis. In 2003, for example, more than $7.2 million was paid to over 1,400 commercial, industrial, and multifamily residential customers, who responded by reducing their peak electricity consumption by 700 MW.
“By partnering with the firm to build our ability to reduce our peak load and bid this reduction into the NYISO Demand Response programs, we generated a new revenue stream. We shared that revenue directly with our tenants to help take the sting out of generally rising energy costs, and to foster a sprit of partnership. We also installed sub-metering, so residents are billed for the actual energy they use. Energy bills typically drop 10 to 15 percent when residents can directly determine how their energy dollars are being spent.”