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Q&A With Con Edison: Improving Energy Efficiency In Affordable Housing

Improving energy efficiency in multifamily properties can be beneficial to property owners, manager and tenants. Energy savings not only cut down on carbon emissions but also lower operating costs and monthly utility bills. But making these upgrades in affordable housing developments can be a challenge for tenants who might not have the financial ability to invest in long-term energy saving initiatives. 

Bisnow sat down with Con Edison Program Manager Akil Friday to discuss the steps both affordable housing residents and managers can take toward meeting these goals.

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Bisnow: What are some steps affordable housing property owners can take right away to lower a property's energy usage?

Friday: A great first step is to get in touch with Con Edison. Through our Multifamily In-Unit Direct Install program, we provide free LEDs, thermostatic radiator valves, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. We also seal the leaks and cracks that cause a building to lose energy, and tune up the boiler free of charge. Anyone who is interested should contact our contractor, Willdan Energy Solutions, at 1-844-316-4288 or at ConEdMultifamily@willdan.com. Con Edison also offers free energy surveys to owners and managers of affordable housing. The surveys identify upgrades that can help reduce energy usage, and we offer financial incentives for measures that save gas and electricity.

Bisnow: How important is the maintenance of HVAC and other equipment?

Friday: Managers should always be examining their existing equipment and performing regular maintenance. These checks are basic but can be incredibly helpful in lowering energy consumption.

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Bisnow: How can owners and managers enlist the help of their tenants?

Friday: It’s essential to communicate with tenants and make it clear that everyone, including the tenants themselves, will benefit if the building cuts its energy costs. Owners and managers can remind tenants of simple steps, such as turning off lights and keeping windows closed in the winter. Green workshops are a good way to get the energy-efficiency message to tenants. Try to make saving energy a part of your building’s culture.

Bisnow: How does Con Edison work with owners or managers to improve energy efficiency?

Friday: We respond quickly when an owner or manager requests an energy survey for their building. The building owner or manager puts down a $250 deposit, which we return once the customer completes an upgrade. Owners can also receive a detailed report on the upgrades they can make to save energy. Then we work with the customer to determine which steps to prioritize. For instance, if the survey identifies 10 steps and one of them may qualify for a government incentive, that may be the upgrade to make first. 

BisnowWhat are some differences between energy-saving practices for affordable housing and market-rate multifamily buildings?

Friday: A lot of affordable housing properties in the city don’t have someone on-site or on staff who is monitoring energy usage full time. Therefore, we make sure we give them the extra time and guidance they may need. Whether an affordable housing property is in the city or in the suburbs, we provide the same level of expertise and help. We also recognize that each owner’s budget is different. We try to offer a variety of incentives so that no matter what a building owner’s financial situation may be, we have a program that is affordable and effective for making each building more efficient.

Bisnow: Is there anything you would like to add?

Friday: I stress again that speaking with us is a great way to start. We offer excellent incentives to help offset some of the initial costs of making equipment and other upgrades. We work with our customers to help them understand their buildings’ unique characteristics and the best ways for them to save. We encourage upgrades that provide customers with a quic return onk their investment. 

To learn more about Con Edison’s Multifamily program, click here.