Last week, New York City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced new mandates — aimed at existing buildings that are 25,000 sq. ft. or larger— to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In his official statement, the mayor noted that, together, the worst-performing buildings in New York City produce 24 percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The mandate could impact as many as 23,000 buildings in total. These buildings will need to reduce greenhouse gasses by 7 percent by 2035. The mandate is also expected to create 17,000 ‘green jobs.’
While the mandate is commendable, many major news outlets have been quick to point out that the programs guidelines are still vague. The methods to be used by buildings to reduce carbon emissions are, at this point, undefined. It’s also unclear as to whether the initiative has the support of New York’s City Council, which will be needed to pass the legislation. We’re still in the early stages of this mandate becoming a reality. That being said, it’s still encouraging to see that efforts are being made to encourage change and promote increasing efficiency of existing buildings.
The mayor provides an example of how the new outlined targets could be met:
“In order to meet these targets, building owners will make improvements to boilers, heat distribution, hot water heaters, roofs and windows, requiring deeper changes during their replacement or refinancing cycles over the next 12 to 17 years.”
Mandating equipment retrofits is an easy decision. It helps drive commerce, labor, and is very visible. It’s also only a partial solution that leaves a lot on the table that could be achieved, coincidentally, at a much lower cost. BuildingIQ’s 5i Platform can greatly reduce energy and emissions, it’s cloud-based, and requires little to no change to existing infrastructure, which could be the reason why it’s commonly ignored during capital-intensive retrofits.
For a mandate like the one being proposed in New York City, the initial step of retro-commissioning building controls and adding cloud-based intelligence to help tune and guide the operations of a building can make a huge and lasting impact. It’s the beginning of the BuildingIQ 5i journey, which equips a building, or portfolio of buildings, with a future-proof strategy. The 5i Platform is capable of providing simple ticketing and monitored commissioning assistance and evolve to a level of service sophistication all the way to closed-loop, automated HVAC optimization with built-in measurement and verification of savings. The journey to constant optimization means that, with the BuildingIQ’s 5i Platform, it doesn’t stop at retrofits. Because the platform knows how a building cools and heats and how it uses weather predictions it is able to get the building to its most comfortable, lowest energy cost state, before the outside temperature takes its toll.
Even with the best equipment retrofit, every single building ever constructed drifts over time, in terms of energy, and not it a good way. Building operational programs can quickly become outdated as occupancy changes, operations shift, maintenance issues occur, etc. Building setpoints —which were initially perfectly commissioned and tuned— cease to be optimal for the facility as equipment ages, processes evolve, and tenants change. We’ve seen a LEED Gold-certified building nearly double its energy consumption in less than five years. Optimization, and fine-tuning controls are an ongoing process, not a one-time event. This is what our 5i cloud-based, intelligent energy management platform can do for building owners.
While the mandate is not enforceable yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t be. Implementing the BuildingIQ 5i Platform is a proactive measure that can be taken and scaled up to meet energy efficiency and emission reduction goals in the future, while complying with NYC Local Laws 84 and 88 today. The platform is offered on a subscription basis, with no up-front costs, so buildings just have to sign up to reap the benefits of continuous energy and operational savings. Having the 5i platform in place to visualize energy consumption and get a pulse on the health of a building will prepare it for any target reductions that may be mandatory in the near future.
Kevin Debasitis is Director of Sales at BuildingIQ, covering the Northeast. Kevin has worked in commercial construction, EPC and development of renewable energy, distributed generation, and energy efficiency for over 25 years.