As of May 12, 2020, the New York State Energy Conservation Code (NYSECC) and the New York City Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC) were updated. The current NYSECC is more aggressive than previous code editions regarding energy savings. New York City uses the NYStretch Energy Code, aligning both the state and city documents with pursuing additional energy consumption avoidance for code minimum buildings.
Westchester County is experiencing challenges due to the gas moratorium, which began in 2019; the decommissioning of Indian Point Energy Center nuclear power plant; and the challenges to building energy performance as a result of the global pandemic. As of March 2019, Con Edison no longer accepts applications for new firm natural gas services or service gas upgrades for a large portion of Westchester County. The Indian Point Energy Center decommissioning may have a long-term effect on the costs of energy in this region. Unit 2 was taken offline in April 2020; Unit 3 is scheduled to be shut down in April 2021, likely to result in increased energy costs. Finally, the energy impacts of the pandemic must be considered with respect to the strategies associated with mitigating the spread of COVID-19, which requires a focus on increased ventilation, air filtration and other HVAC system adjustments that may use more energy.
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these challenges and support programs are available to most utility customers. The NYSERDA Flexible Technical Assistance (FlexTech) Program and the NYSERDA New Construction Program are two programs that can assist owners. Both programs provide support for analyzing needs and goals and the studies provided can form the basis to pursue additional incentives for high performance modifications to systems or equipment, working in conjunction with Con Edison and other local utility programs.
What You Need to Know About the NYSERDA Programs
NYSERDA FlexTech Program
Through December 31, 2020, the NYSERDA FlexTech Program will offer up to 100% study cost share for eligible customers, which historically has been limited to 50% cost share. Only the application must be submitted and approved by year end, the study can take place subsequently.
Completing an energy study of your building can help identify and evaluate opportunities to reduce energy costs, summarize operational issues and incorporate clean energy and energy efficiency measures into your capital planning. The FlexTech Program shares the cost to produce an objective, site-specific and targeted study on how best to implement clean energy and/or energy efficiency technologies. OLA, as a NYSERDA FlexTech Consultant, can work with you to provide the energy study and energy master plan.
FlexTech Program highlights:
- Cost-shared technical assistance services
- Cost-shared implementation assistance
- Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) studies – investigation of measures related to new guidelines pertaining to safe building operation
Free clean heating and cooling screenings for buildings located within the gas constrained region – which includes a review of financial metrics of ground-source and air-source heat pumps and VRF systems
NYSERDA New Construction Program
The NYSERDA New Construction Program provides technical support to applicants and their design teams to help identify energy efficiency opportunities in non-residential new construction and substantial renovations. NYSERDA will provide additional support up to 100% of the cost of the analysis for projects with “deep energy savings” or net zero aspirations. Additional details can be found at www.nyserda.org.
Will Westchester County Be Ready to Handle the Changing Energy Landscape?
Despite all the challenges we are facing, we see opportunities to mitigate the energy impact of the gas moratorium, the shutdown of a key energy producing asset (Indian Point) and the pandemic. By taking advantage of NYSERDA/Con Edison programs, available financing options, as well as using skilled architects, engineers and contractors, you can build and operate existing buildings to run as smart systems that are energy efficient, comfortable and safe.
Key points to remember:
- Know the code has become more stringent for new buildings and renovations
- Ask engineers/architects to outperform the code and quantify their results
- Seek out commissioning of building energy systems (a code requirement in many situations)
- Consider NYSERDA and utility assistance for cost sharing opportunities
Lastly, do not forget about safety and resiliency as you pursue energy savings.
In fact, working to be energy efficient should improve safety and make buildings and communities more resilient. The approach chosen will affect the environment, productivity and the health of the occupants of our buildings.