Department of Buildings Commissioner Urges New Yorkers to Realize Maximum “MPG” From Our Buildings


New York University's Puck Building at 295 Laf...

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As chilly winter weather has NYU Wagner students turning up the
heat in their apartments, the recent event “Greening Gotham: The Rise of
Energy-Efficient Buildings and the Road Ahead” was an inspiring reminder to consider
energy use in our homes, offices and the city at large. Introducing New York
City Department of Buildings
Commissioner Robert LiMandri, Wagner Associate
Dean Tyra Liebmann noted the irony of the last-minute change in venue: The burst
pipes that flooded the Puck Building, forcing the event to move to the Kimmel
Center remind us “of the important role that buildings play in our lives, both in
keeping us safe and healthy and in fostering community.”

The importance of the city’s buildings, as well as the work
of the DOB, was a sentiment echoed by first-year urban planning student Scott
Hobbs, who met LiMandri when he was an Urban Fellow working at the department. Hobbs pointed out recent
successes of the DOB as well as new programs it has recently launched, such as
public art installations at construction sites.

Once on stage, LiMandri called on a volunteer to
describe what she considered when deciding to move into her Queens
condo, and while transit access and pet policies were on her list, the types
and costs of the building’s energy systems were not. According to the
commissioner, New Yorkers rarely consider the energy efficiency of our homes
prior to purchase. And while New York City utilizes voluntary programs (such as
LEED certification), mandates (such as the new, greener energy code) and
incentives (like tax abatements for solar roofs) to green the city’s 1,000,000
plus buildings, it is up to individuals to make choices that will move the New
York region toward a more energy-efficient future.

After describing how New York City agencies are working
towards a greener built environment in the five boroughs, LiMandri emphasized
that while energy-saving strategies such as cool roofs, street trees and solar
energy
save money, more importantly, they enhance livability in our cities. He
made clear that the choices we make today, both about our overarching policies
and our individual actions, will affect the health and well-being of future
generations.

When the commissioner took questions from the audience,
there were multiple concerns about the efficacy of the LEED building rating
system, which awards points based on predicted, rather than actual, energy
savings. In response, LiMandri recommended retro-commissioning every 10 years,
likening it to regular car tune-ups: “It’s not only how you drive, but how well
you maintain your vehicle.”

The commissioner’s remarks demonstrate that the DOB, far
from being an agency stuck in the ways of the past, is forward-thinking and
actively engaged in the most pressing problems facing our built environment.
But he was quick to note that “it’s not about over-regulation, it’s about
enabling.”

We are all able to take a stand and do something about
sustainability in our cities. Volunteer to paint a roof white as part of the
Cool Roofs Program, plant a tree and talk to your landlord about the energy
efficiency of your building–after all, you’re paying for it!

Listen to a podcast of the event and check back for a slideshow presentation.

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2 thoughts on “Department of Buildings Commissioner Urges New Yorkers to Realize Maximum “MPG” From Our Buildings

  1. I live in an unusually green building: the coop just installed a co-generation plant and green roofs, replaced all of the windows and uses compact florescents bulbs in the common areas. Yet, the new windows aren’t quite good enough. They’re double pane instead of triple pane, aluminum ( which transfers heat) and were installed poorly. Also, we air condition our hallways 24/7 (for 30 seconds of use!) and still don’t use timers on the lights. Maybe I’m too rigourous. It just seems classic: conservation is ok as long as everyone is still cold in the lobby during the summer. Also, the coop stopped because it ran low on funds, but it wanted to increase power to each apartment because some people complain that they can’t have their sub-zeros and multiple flat screen TVs. It’s class example of being more energy efficient so we can maintain the cost and increase the use.

  2. Not allowing multiple TVs even if they are LCD flat screens are too much.
    They only take 50 watts or less in power.
    It would be better to just install solar panels in the roof instead of replacing all the windows to save energy.
    -Anna

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