Building Owners Beware: A Perfect Storm Is Brewing in the Big Apple

By George Crawford

If you’re a permit expediter, then you know that commercial and residential building owners need to brace for the impending perfect storm—namely, higher NYC taxes and utilities, coupled with lower rents—heading straight for their bottom lines.

While the protest period has already passed for the tax assessments issued earlier this year—hopefully, without too much sticker shock—owners can still address the imminent increase in Con Ed electric rates. Indian Point, currently an important source of inexpensive power to the metropolitan area, is scheduled to close one of two reactors in 2019, followed by the second in 2020. With no inexpensive, alternate source “identified” (translation: not available), rates will rise. Now is the time to offset these future increases with energy-saving measures.

To research appropriate measures, check out the New York City Energy and Water Use 2013 Report, released last summer. This report includes a comprehensive compilation of energy-saving measures, including investment payback periods. Two virtually foolproof and readily replicable solutions that offer quick paybacks include standalone hot water production and LED lighting upgrades.

Water Heating

Standalone hot water production is very efficient and lowers both fuel and electric costs. The savings from reduced electric and fuel consumption should allow owners to recoup the project costs in two years. Plus, this measure allows the building boiler to rest in the off season. Extended rest periods reduce boiler maintenance and extend the life of the equipment.

LED Upgrades

Buildings that use any fluorescent (including CFLs, compact fluorescent bulbs) or incandescent lighting are good candidates for LED upgrades. In terms of payback periods, buildings that use a combination of incandescent and fluorescent lamps will usually recoup costs in one year, while fluorescent-only buildings have a payback period of two years. Any increases in electric rates will only improve these payback periods.

Also, Con Ed has just updated its incentive funding programs for LED retrofits for both multifamily and commercial buildings. Work with a Con Ed Market Partner to access these rebates, as well as to benefit from Con Ed’s retrofit oversight.

George Crawford leads Green Partners LLC, which identifies money-saving solutions of owners of commercial and residential properties in New York City. For help with your energy needs, please contact George by email at