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Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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Expanded Gas Conversion, Resiliency Measures, Energy Issues, New Laws

Published: Spring 2014

CON ED EXPANDS GAS AVAILABILITY IN THE BRONX, MANHATTAN & QUEENS
Consolidated Edison has announced 17 new areas for possible expansion of its existing natural gas infrastructure in 2015. Buildings within these zones may be eligible to connect at no cost with one point of entry for its total gas load for what is known as firm gas service (guaranteeing to heat only with gas for a defined period, typically three years). This expansion is contingent on customers in a given zone proceeding with their conversion to gas in accordance with the time line described below, making it important that your building make timely application for high pressure gas service if it is one of these proposed zones.

Con Edison has opted for this zone approach in the hope that by coordinating construction activity, it will reduce disruption and noise in each neighborhood. Maps on the Con Edison website www.coned.com/gasconversion/areagrowth. asp show the 17 proposed areas. They are color coded to indicate application deadlines of June 20, 2014, July 23, 2014 or August 27, 2014 to have applications completed for 2015 eligibility. A click on your area provide full information.

To have your building included as an Area Growth Zone participant, Con Edison must receive from your building

1) An Area Growth Acknowledgment letter for 2015 specific to your applic– able zone, submitted to Con Edison at gasconversions@conEd.com, with the applicable zone indicated in the subject line.

2) An electronic gas service request submitted to Con Edision at www.conEd. com/es with applicable zone indicated in the "Scope of Work" section of the request.

Con Edison recommends starting preliminary work, such as hiring professionals and contractors and conducting chimney inspections while awaiting the ruling on your application, so that you will be ready to proceed as soon as you hear from Con Edison. Con Edison will continue to provide programs like this one in future years. For more information on the Area Growth plan or how to convert to natural gas, visit conEd.com/gasconversions or call 1-800-643-1289 (and press 1). For information about rebates available to Con Ed customers who install eligible high-efficiency equipment visit conEd.com/greenteam.

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE GRANTS FOR STORMWATER CONTROL
Since 2011, the Department of Environmental Protection has had a program of grants available to community groups and property owners in areas served by combined sewer systems. These grants are for projects that soften the impervious landscape and help absorb rainwater that would otherwise drain into the combined sewer system. Projects funded in the first three years include green roofs and community gardens. Applications for this year's innovation of an autumn round of grants must be submitted by October 21st. Grant funding is provided for the design and construction of projects that will reduce or manage a minimum of one inch of stormwater. Projects selected can receive up to 100% of the design and construction costs for the green infrastructure project, with preference given to projects located in priority watersheds. For full information consult the DEP website at nyc.gov/dep.

RETAINING WALL INSPECTION
The Department of Buildings requires that every retaining wall ten feet high or higher that faces a public way must be inspected every 5 years (and more frequently if a safety issue exists) by a qualified engineer with at least three years of relevant experience. Filings for retaining walls in the Bronx are due in 2014, for those in Manhattan in 2015, Staten Island in 2016 and Queens in 2017 and Brooklyn retaining walls in 2018. Reports must be filed electronically with the Department of Buildings, certifying the condition of the retaining wall and identifying any deficiencies. As with Local Law 11 inspections, it is expected that deficiencies will be reported corrected in the next filing.

NEW NYC OFFICE OF RECOVERY & RESILIENCY
Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Sandy have led New York City to take a hard look at recovery and resiliency. In December of 2012, Mayor Bloomberg convened the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency with a long-term focus on preparing for and protecting against the impacts of climate change. Its final report, released in June of 2013 presented multiple recommendations both for rebuilding the communities impacted by Sandy and increasing the resilience of infrastructure and buildings throughout the City. Many of these recommendations have already been implemented or are in the early stages of implementation. Mayor DeBlasio has created the Office or Recovery and Resiliency to further these efforts. Its director is engineer Daniel Zarilli, who played an active role directing the Special Initiative.

Along with measures to streamline post-Sandy rebuilding and hazard mitigation efforts, the Office of Recovery & Resiliency is responsible for a comprehensive coastal protection plan for New York's 520 miles of coastline. It has worked to reform the national flood insurance program to keep insurance available and affordable for New Yorkers (see page 9). It has recommendations for upgrading city building code and operations to protect buildings in the floodplain against floods, wind and prolonged power outages. Following are some of the legislation that affects cooperatives and condominiums.

BACKFLOW PREVENTION
Local Law 83 of 2013 expands and strengthens the 2005 requirement for backflow prevention devices in the light of additional lessons learned about sewage in Tropical Storm Sandy.

DRINKING WATER
Local Law 110 of 2013 requires certain residential buildings to provide fixtures which can supply drinking water to a common area located above the flood plain in the event that the water pump that serves such building fails. A building must provide one fixture for every 100 occupants. Buildings that have water pumps that are connected to an emergency or standby power system that complies with the Building Code would be exempt from these requirements. Existing residential buildings greater than five stories will have 8 years to make these fixtures available

EMERGENCY POWER
Local Law 111 of 2013 requires that new buildings higher than 125 feel have emergency power systems sufficient to support 1) Exit signs and means of egress illumination, 2) At lease one elevator serving all floors or one elevator per bank when different banks serve different portions of the building, 3) Emergency voice communications systems, and 4) Electrically powered fire pumps. The Department of Buildings will soon undertake a comprehensive review of requirements for existing building and will doubtless include requirements for emergency power.

HR.3370 BRINGS SIGNIFICANT FLOOD INSURANCE MODIFICATIONS
On March 21, 2014, President Obama signed into law , H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, which seeks to make flood insurance more affordable and more widely available, by generally limiting increases in flood insurance premiums to no more than 18% annually. It directs FEMA to review many existing programs and policies, to revise mapping, to designate a Flood Insurance Advocate whose function will be to educate and assist policy holders.

It will take time for the many provisions of Hr.3370 to be implemented. FEMA guidelines are expected by December. It is anticipated that a small percentage of policy holders in high risk areas who were required to pay their full-risk rate after purchasing a new flood insurance policy on or after 7/6/12 will be due refunds, as will those who renewed after March 21, 2014 and whose premium increased by more than 18%. Consult your own insurance broker if you believe that your building may be one of these.

JOIN THE NYC CARBON CHALLENGE
The NYC Carbon Challenge is a voluntary program of the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability which helps residential buildings realize the benefits of energy efficiency. Ten property management firms have joined universities, hospitals, and commercial firms in the program, striving to cut emissions from a portfolio of multifamily buildings by 30% in just 10 years.

Energy use in residential buildings is the single largest source of emissions in the city, accounting for 37% of New York City's total emissions. The Carbon Challenge offers access to tools and technical assistance, financing and incentives, and a platform to exchange ideas. One tool is the Handbook for Co-ops and Condos, which provides an overview of opportunities for energy efficiency, the relevant laws in New York City, and the financing and incentives available to help cover the capital cost of investments. The Handbook is available for download at www. nyc.gov/mcc-multifamily.

Co-op or condo boards that are interested in joining the Carbon Challenge must sign up through a participating management firm. For more information, visit: www.nyc.gov/carbonchallenges.

STAR QUESTIONS PERSIST STATE DEADLINE LIFTED
In 2013 New York State sought confirmation of STAR eligibility. STAR is a state school tax relief program, available to individuals and families with annual income of less than $500,000 for their primary residence. The original deadline for responding was 12/31/13, but the state is continuing to accept these confirmations online at www.tax.ny.gov/ prt/property/star13/default/htm or by phone to 518-457-2036 weekdays between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. All questions on confirmation of past STAR eligibility should be addressed to the State. Only new STAR registrations are done through the Department of Finance of New York City.

CARBON MONOXIDE & SMOKE DETECTOR UPDATE
Property owners – including cooperatives and condominiums – are now required by law to replace carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors at the end of the manufacturer's suggested useful life of each device. Effective in April 2014, all such devices installed must either be hard wired or have a non-removable, non-replaceable battery capable of powering the alarm for 10 years and which emits an audible signal at the end of the useful life of the alarm.

Upon periodic replacement of these devices, certificates of installation are to be filed with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Property owners are authorized to charge residents $25 for each device or $50 for a combined carbon monoxide and smoke detector. Forms and a chart detailing all owner responsibilities in this area can be found on the HPD website at www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/homeowners/carbon_ monoxide.shtml.

 
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