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ENERGY, NOISE, CONSTRUCTION, RECYCLING & TREES

Published: Summer 2007

ENERGY CRISIS
The fossil fuels that power our vehicles and heat our homes and workplaces are non-renewable resources which are being rapidly depleted. Their combustion creates greenhouse gasses that have contributed significantly to global climate change. Their carbon emissions pollute the air we breathe and threaten our health. As a nation, we must change. We must learn to conserve the resources we have and seek alternate sources of energy, sources that are renewable and that do not threaten the environment.

Both Governor Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have pledged to meet the challenges of global climate change. The governor has announced that his administration is embracing “ambitious energy efficiency standards and renewable energy goals throughout state government [to] ‘catalyze the growth of the clean power industry.” Mayor Bloomberg has pledged to reduce New York’s release of green house gasses by 30% by 2030, with City government leading the way.

All New Yorkers must join the Mayor and the Governor in this endeavor. We must make our buildings more energy efficient and we must personally become more attentive to energy conservation.

There will be a seminar presented on August 1st focused on ways that New York buildings can meet the challenges of global climate change. This seminar is described on pages 1 and 17 of this Newsletter; it should be of interest to your property manager, your building Super, and the chair of your Building Operations Committee.

“Saving Energy is Cool”
The New York State Public Service Commission provides tips on using electricity wisely this summer. Energy conservation and efficiency will help the state meet peak electricity demand, help the environment and help you control your energy costs. Easy-to-implement ideas include:

  • Using fans more and air conditioners less.
  • Using a timer and a programmable thermostat on air conditioning.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (they last 10 times longer and use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs).
  • Choose energy-efficient ENERGY STAR products when buying new appliances.

For more information on energy conservation call 1-888-Ask-PSC1 or visit www.AskPSC.com.

Funding is available through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for building upgrades that improve energy efficiency. See page 6 of this Newsletter for details. For additional information on energy conservation call 1-888-Ask-PSC1 or visit www.AskPSC.com, www.coned.com, or www.NYSERDA.com.

NEW NOISE CODE NOW IN EFFECT
In December 2005, a new noise code was enacted for the City that never sleeps. This first comprehensive overhaul of noise legislation in 30 years became effective in July, 2007, implementing regulations prepared by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). It seeks a balanced approach to noise problems with a strong focus on mitigation and remediation.

The new code requires that every construction site post a noise mitigation plan and comply with its provisions. It addresses noise from motorcycles, from bars, and from air conditioning systems.

Both DEP and the NYPD are authorized to enforce the provisions of the new noise code. As a strong incentive to correct offending noise, no fine is levied at a first complaint; rather, the offending party will be encouraged to expend what is necessary to mitigate the noise problem promptly. If the offending condition is not remedied, multiple violations and very stiff penalties will follow and the offending equipment can be sealed.
Noise complaints can be called in to the City by dialing 311. A pamphlet on the Noise Code is available on the website of the Department of Environmental Protection at www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/airnoise.html.

NEW CONSTRUCTION CODE SIGNED INTO LAW
A new Construction Code was passed by the City Council on June 27, 2007. Mayor Bloomberg signed it into law on July 3, 2007. Its passage culminates a four-year collaborative effort to adapt the International Building Code to the city of New York. Every effort was made to ensure that all interested parties had representation on appropriate ones of the many task forces that worked to make this code reasonable to implement and to enforce. Many hours were devoted to review and discussion and compromise to craft a code that sailed through City Council hearings with virtually no opposition and many expressions of support.

The City now has 12 months to prepare regulations for the implementation of the new code, which will become effective on July 1, 2008. Until then, the current 1968 Building Code remains in force. For the first 12 months of the new Code, applications for permits filed may, at the option of the owner, comply with either the existing code or the new code. Work must begin within twelve months of permit issuance. Buildings filed after July 1, 2009 must be designed to the new code.

The new Code includes new requirements for high rise residential buildings which enhance safety but add somewhat to the cost of construction. It eliminates the City’s arcane Materials and Equipment Acceptance process in favor of the use of national standards for these items, and will require some additional controlled inspections and has tighter administrative and enforcement requirements. New requirements include:

• Additional smoke alarms in each bedroom as well as outside the bedrooms;
• Interconnection of all alarms within the unit;
• 44’ wide stairs in buildings greater than 125 feet in height;
• Emergency communication within each unit and within the stair wells;
• Emergency generators although they may be gas powered and loads are less than those for commercial buildings;
• Impact resistant elevator and stair enclosures;
• Piping design of the standpipe system and water storage requirements have increased.
On the plus side, installing automatic fire pumps instead of manual pumps will result in a savings.
Existing buildings, for the most part, may continue to be altered in accordance with the 1968 (current) code or, if built before 1968, with the earlier codes. The exceptions to this include fire safety requirements, inspection and enforcement requirements, and accessibility mandates.
Of interest to cooperatives and condominiums and their residents who plan alterations of their units is the fact that the new code requires that one bathroom in every apartment be wheelchair accessible. Once the new Code becomes an option in July, 2008, this would enable a shareholder or unit owner to renovate a second bathroom in an apartment where one bathroom is already compliant without needing to make the second bathroom wheelchair accessible.
Once this Code is implemented, the Department of Buildings will turn its attention to updating its regulations for construction in existing buildings. CNYC will take an active role in that project.

RECYCLING HELP
Condo and Co-op Boards looking for ways to better understand the city's recycling rules have a new ally in the Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE) which offers a free service. OROE’s staff of recycling coordinators are available to help educate Board members, residents and building service staff on what can be recycled and how to go about meeting the city's requirements.

OROE was created when the New York City Council adopted the Mayor's Solid Waste Management Plan and is housed in Council on the Environment NYC (CENYC)--a non-profit dedicated to improving New York City's Environment. OROE's mission is to help New Yorkers increase the amount of recyclables diverted from the waste stream and promote waste reduction, materials reuse and composting efforts.

OROE has boro-wide outreach coordinators who will train and educate building service personnel and occupants on the methods, requirements and importance of recycling. The office will also provide information and training on other waste reduction, reuse and composting programs offered by the City and various not-for-profit organizations, while looking to ensure that recycling and waste prevention remain an integral part of the City's overall sustainability efforts. To learn more about OROE and to take advantage of this free training, visit www.CENYC.org.

PURCHASE RECYCLED MATERIALS FROM “BUILD IT GREEN!”
Build It Green! NYC , is a project of the Community Environmental Center, a not-for profit organization promoting energy conservation and eco-friendly construction. Located in Astoria, Queens, Build It Green! works with developers, building suppliers and homeowners to salvage high quality materials, when buildings are gutted or demolished. The rescued cabinetry, hardware, doors, lumber, piping, appliances etc are then sold to the general public at prices 30% to 70% less than what they would cost new.

Build it Green! welcomes contributions of old cabinets and appliances from individuals who are remodeling. Recycling this equipment with Build it Green! saves dumping fees and keeps good, usable materials out of New York’s over-burdened waste stream and recycles them. Furthermore, people who donate these re-usable items earn a tax deduction for their donations.

The Build it Green! NYC warehouse also receives new surplus materials directly from manufacturers, including hundreds of gallons of paint, doors, trim, tile, brand-name windows and kitchen cabinets. Film and television productions also donate barely used materials from sets, such as carpet and lighting.

Build It Green! NYC is offering members of CNYC a discount on the prices of materials purchased at their warehouse. To learn more about Build It Green! call 718 777-0132 or consult their website at www.bignyc.org.

REQUEST A STREET TREE
The Flatiron Partnership is coordinating a district-wide tree planting initiative through the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation's Street Tree program, which plants trees free-of-charge, on sidewalks in front of homes, apartment buildings and businesses throughout the City.

Any property owner may request a street tree by submitting this form.

For more information, contact the BID office at 212.741.2323 or by e-mail to info@flatironbid.org.

 
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