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Published: Autumn 2013

Every year at CNYC's housing conference, CNYC board members Greg Carlson and Leon Geoxavier present an Update of NYC Codes and Rules. Many of the topics listed below will be mentioned in this update. See the chart on page 17 for this morning class.

BENCHMARKING SCORES
In 2009 the City passed a number of Green Laws designed to reduce the carbon footprint of large buildings. Local Law 84 required Benchmarking. This involved entering detailed measurements of the building into the EPA Portfolio Manager along with specific data on electricity, fuel and water use, and forwarding the information to the New York City Department of Finance. In 2011, data was entered for the year 2010, with telephone help available from the City as people undertook this task for the first time.

In 2012, data was entered for the year 2011 and commercial buildings in New York City were given a score, comparing them with one another. This year, the 2012 data has been entered and residential buildings are to receive their scores. There were delays occasioned by EPA's reworking of Portfolio Manager, so these scores have not yet been published. CNYC has been advised that they will be out in September.

Benchmarking scores are designed to help buildings identify areas where their energy performance cal be improved. This will be part of their work to comply with Local Law 87, which is discussed below.

ENERGY AUDITS AND RETRO-COMMISSIONING
Implementation of Local Law 87 begins this year, requiring buildings of 50,000 square feet or greater whose property tax block number ends in "3" to have had an energy audit performed and to retro-commission building systems to improve their efficiency, These buildings must file an Energy Efficiency Report by the end of the year. Local Law 87 provided that an energy audit is not required for the first round of energy efficiency reports if a registered design professional certifies that:

  1. The covered building has received an EPA Energy Star label for at least two of the three years preceding the filing of the building's energy efficiency report.
  2. The covered building has received certification under the LEED 2009 rating system for Existing Buildings published by the USGBC or other rating system for existing buildings, as determined by the department, within four years prior to the filing of the building's energy efficiency report.
  3. If the the building's benchmarking performance is 25 or more points better than the performance of an average building of its type over a two-year period within the threeyear period prior to the filing of an energy efficiency report. [unfortunately not an option for buildings with tax blocks ending in 3 or 4, since these scores will first be provided this year (see above)].

Local Law 87 further provides that an energy audit shall not be required for the first energy efficiency report of a simple building [one without complex HVA C systems, etc.] that is in compliance with six out of seven of the following items as certified by a registered design professional:

  • Individual heating controls (thermostats) in each dwelling unit and sensors monitoring heat in other parts of the building.
  • Common area and exterior lighting are in compliance with the provisions of the New York city energy conservation code as in effect for new systems installed on or after July 1, 2010.
  • Low flow faucets and shower heads on all faucets and showerheads within the building.
  • Pipe insulation on all exposed pipes that are used to convey heat or hot water, in accordance with the standards of the New York city energy conservation code as in effect for new systems installed on or after July 1, 2010.
  • D omestic hot water tanks that do not have built-in insulation are insulated with a minimum insulation value of R-8.
  • A ll common area clothes washing machines are front loading.
  • Cool roof. The roof complies with section 1504.8 of the New York city building code as in effect for new buildings constructed on or after July 1, 2010.

EARLY FILING OPTION
Building that have had qualifying energy audits performed since 2006 can opt to file an early energy efficiency report by December 31, 2013, regardless of their tax block number. Those doing so will not again be required to file until the year of their tax block number comes up again (after 2022). The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) has requested that the City extend the deadline for early filing. CNYC supports this request and will advise members if it is granted.

PHASING OUT #6 OIL
Since July of 2012, the City has not been renewing the triennial boiler permits of buildings that burn #6 oil. Approximately one third of the buildings that used #6 oil have now had to switch, with the others soon to follow. While the ideal situation would be to change to clean burning #2 oil or to natural gas (preferably while retaining the option of using oil if necessary), many affected buildings have found this impossible, due to constraints of time and money. They have opted instead to use #4 oil and to make plans to proceed to an affordable alternative before 2030, when #4 oil will no longer be permitted.

Many buildings fortunate enough to be situated along the existing high pressure gas lines, or in the areas where these lines are being extended have converted to natural gas and are enjoying the much lower current cost of heating with gas. This speeds their payback of the often considerable funds invested in the conversion.

THE MAYOR'S CARBON CHALLENGE
In 2007 New York City released PlaNYC, a sustainability plan that commits to reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. The Mayor's Carbon Challenges invites large buildings and complexes to proceed at an accelerated pace, cutting emissions by 30% in just 10 years. Participants receive public recognition for energy efficiency and sustainability operations. They will realize cost savings through reduced energy costs and will have access to technical assistance and possible financial incentives. There is benefit to participating and no penalty for not quite achieving these ambitious goals.

Dramatic carbon reduction can be achieved through upgrading outdated building equipment, or replacement of heavy heating oil with cleaner burning fuels, installation of lighting retrofits and controls, improving HVAC efficiency, window replacement, appliance replacement, improving operations and maintenance of building systems and changing residents habits that are wasteful of energy.

To learn more about the Mayor's Carbon Challenge, visit www.nyc.gov/ carbonchallenges. John Lee and Jenna Taatum of the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability will present a morning class at CNYC's 33rd annual Housing Conference entitled Greening NYC Buildings and Meeting the Mayor's Carbon Challenge (see the chart on page 17).

J-51 PROGRAM VIRTUALLY EXCLUDES COOPS/CONDOS
The legislation that extended the property tax abatement program for home owners in New York City cooperatives and condominiums (see pages 1, 3, 8 and 9) also revived the City's J-51 tax abatement and exemption program for major capital improvements which had sunset on December 31, 2011, but severely limited its availability to cooperatives and condominiums. The J-51 program enables buildings to defray a portion of the costs of building improvements through property tax abatements over a period of several years. The improvement must be made and paid for before the J-51 application is filed.

Cooperatives and condominiums that are converted from rentals, warehouses, lofts continue to be eligible for three years following conversion. However, instead of raising the ceiling on ongoing eligibility for cooperatives and condominiums from an average assessed value per unit of $40,000 that was set in 1992, this legislation LOWERS that ceiling to $30,000. This eliminates from ongoing eligibility all but a very few open market cooperatives and condominiums. Rental properties and limited equity cooperatives and condominiums continue to be eligible.

Questions arise for buildings valued at more than $30,000 and less than $40,000 per unit that have undertaken capital improvement projects with the anticipation of qualifying for J-51 and recovering some of their expenditures. CNYC disputes the City's contention that these cooperatives and condominiums do not need the help that J-51 has long provided.

FIRE SAFETY INSPECTIONS TARGET BUILDINGS MOST AT RISK
The Fire Department regularly inspects all of the buildings in its jurisdiction. Now a new tool helps prioritize these inspections. On May 20, 2013 Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Cassano announced that firefighters citywide are now using new technology that improves the Department's building inspection program by focusing on structures that pose the greatest fire risk. The Risk Based Inspection System application is the first of its kind in the nation. It uses data from multiple sources, to assess and prioritize 50,000 buildings firefighters inspect annually. The new system is part of an ongoing $24 million project to improve and enhance the FDNY s building inspection unit.

This new technology gives firefighters another tool to use in their efforts to save more lives by further reducing building fires in our city.

NYC WATER REPORT FOR 2012
The 2012 Annual Water Supply and Quality Report is now available for viewing at www.nyc.gov/ dep/2012waterquality. This report contains detailed information about the New York water supply and the quality of drinking water. For a translation of the report, or to speak with someone about the information in the report, please call 311. If you would like a paper copy of the report mailed to your home, please call 311 and DEP will mail you a paper copy.

For more information about the New York City Water Supply and to view previous years' reports, go to www. nyc.gov/dep. At CNYC's 33rd annual housing Conference on Sunday, November 17th, the Department of Environmental Protection will have a table in the Exhibit Hall.

RECYCLING EXPANDED TO INCLUDE RIGID PLASTIC
The Department of Sanitation has expanded collection of recyclable materials to include all types of rigid plastic containers. This eliminates from the waste stream a significant amount of material that will now be recycled put to use. At CNYC's 33rd annual housing Conference on Sunday, November 17th, the Department of Sanitation will have a table in the Exhibit Hall and Eve Martinez, director of the Apartment Building Recycling Initiative (ABRI) will present a midday class on Improving Recycling (see the chart on page 17).

 
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