In a densely populated, cultural and financial capital like New York City, the initiative to reduce carbon emissions has gained momentum, making sustainability and resiliency a point of focus in everyday living. With various incentives and rebates offered by utilities and government agencies, buildings – especially residential rental buildings, cooperatives, and condominiums – are able to embrace green practices and "go green" at a lower cost while enjoying ongoing energy savings as a result. 
The most informed and eco-conscious property management companies have in-house energy experts dedicated to assisting boards, building owners and property managers in effectively navigating the incentives programs and rebate process.
While some energy upgrades are offered on a limited-time-only basis, there’s no need to feel pressured or overwhelmed. With the right guidance, you will be able to identify applicable energy incentives and learn how to take full advantage of these programs to benefit your building. We’ll give you a quick tutorial on finding an appropriate solution for your building and making the most out of the different energy incentives currently available. 

1. It’s never too soon to start.

The range of energy incentives is always in flux. That’s why it’s a good idea to start now. Have your building evaluated for its current energy use, and pin down what areas are good candidates for energy conservation measures, or ECMs. With this list in hand, your board can partner with an engineering firm to help determine in advance which will be the best program, or programs, to join. This removes any sense of rush or panic and allows the board to act strategically rather than reflexively. A proactive property management company will have additional resources and energy experts available to support their clients and help the property go green. For example, FirstService Residential has a dedicated subsidiary, FirstService Energy, to effectively guide boards on the range of energy incentives.

2. Know the two types of measures.  

For the most part, programs offer two ways of receiving incentives – through prescriptive measures and custom measures. Here’s the difference: Prescriptive measures offer a pre-determined incentive amount based on energy reduction actions such as installing LED lights, chillers, variable frequency drives and more. With custom measures, your incentive amount is based on the energy you save, which means these measures require an engineer to document the overall energy reduction. Boards and managers should work closely with the engineer to make sure the incentive is maximized by making upgrades that save the greatest amount of energy possible. Look to the program guidelines to see if the incentive you’re interested in requires prescriptive or custom measures.  

3. Follow the process.  

Unfortunately, reaping the rewards of your energy reduction program won’t happen overnight. In fact, there are a few important steps to take before your retrofit even begins. For the most part, a program will require a pre-inspection of your building to assess current equipment and facilities, followed by a desk review of your application. This could take upwards of two months. After that, you’ll receive a letter from the program in two to six weeks. Although it’s ideal to wait to begin your energy upgrades until after this letter arrives, sometimes you must proceed with the work due to system requirements or downtime. If this is the case, you should understand that until the incentive offer has been received, you are not confirmed to receive the funds. Further, the program administrators may require a post-inspection before issuing an incentive. A seasoned property management company can help you navigate this process from beginning to end.  

4. Location matters.

How do you know if your building qualifies for a program? Well, most program administrators – such as Con Edison, National Grid, Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) – base qualifications on utility provider and geographical location. Incentives offered by Con Edison are available to electric and firm gas customers in all New York City boroughs. National Grid offers programs to firm natural gas customers in selected areas of Queens and Long Island. Likewise for PSE&G. As for NYSERDA, eligibility is typically determined by project size and overall energy reduction – with the further requirement that you consult with your local utility for available programs first. If the project isn’t covered by the local utility, then NYSERDA will consider offering you an incentive.  

5. Always check for updates.  

Since programs are always changing, it’s difficult to include a definitive list of possibilities. But utilities are typically pretty good about keeping updated information on their websites. Check in with ConEdison on their Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program (MEEP). PSE&G keeps updated information on their rebate programs here. National Grid offers a vast array of rebates based on qualifying equipment upgrades – visit their website for the full list. Finally, you can find the full details on NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program here.  
Knowing these basics will save you a different kind of energy: effort. With these practices in place you’ll be poised to take advantage of the incentive programs that will help you save the most – in a way that is strategic. For more information on how to go green, contact FirstService Residential, New York’s leading property management company. 
Monday May 23, 2016