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Con Ed Q&A: Get Paid To Reduce Your Building's Energy Consumption

Need a reason to reduce a building's energy consumption? How about getting paid for it.

Con Edison's Demand Management Program helps property managers do just that. Bisnow chatted with program manager Sim Zirkiyev to ask the big questions on energy savings in New York City — and what commercial and multifamily property managers can do to reduce their carbon footprints.

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Bisnow: In cities like New York, commercial tenants expect the very best treatment — and that includes fundamentals like great atmospheric lighting and climate control. What is one step commercial building owners can take to immediately drive down energy costs and usage in the short term, without reducing the quality of lighting and HVAC systems?

Sim Zirkiyev: The easiest step is to replace lighting with compatible LED lighting technology. This step provides an excellent return on the investment.

However, many commercial buildings have already installed LEDs. Managers of those buildings should consider installing wireless controls. These enable automatic adjustments of lighting levels based on occupancy levels or the amount of natural light in the room. If there is sufficient daylight, there’s no need to keep lights on and the wireless controls automatically cut down on the lighting level. These projects carry much less labor costs than wired controls projects. This upgrade gives your building the potential to generate revenue because you can enroll in our demand response programs and get paid for reducing your usage at times of high demand.

Bisnow: Con Edison has the Demand Management Program to encourage customers to switch to new technologies, like thermal and battery storage projects. What are these incentives?

Zirkiyev: We’ve had this program for commercial and multifamily properties since 2014. The program’s primary purpose is to reduce the load on the electrical grid at times when demand for power is highest, which is on hot summer afternoons. Managing that peak demand benefits all our customers. Lower loads reduce the strain on the grid, helping us maintain the high level of reliability that our customers have come to expect from Con Edison. There’s also a ton of environmental benefits. On peak load days, for instance, the grid may depend on what we call “peaking plants.” These are older, less efficient generating plants that may emit more carbon. If we reduce that peak load, it helps reduce dependency on these generators.

Our program incentivizes measures that improve electric efficiency or transfer usage to other, more efficient resources. The types of projects include HVAC, controls, thermal energy storage and battery storage. Another way to reduce electric consumption is to replace electrically driven chillers with steam-driven chillers. We incentivize that.

In 2018 and 2019, we have budgeted $24M and $32M, respectively, for this program. Incentive levels vary by measure type. For 2019 projects, the first application deadline is Nov. 17. If you need more time to apply, we will have another application deadline in early 2018.

Many of these projects require time to implement. We are kicking off the 2019 program in 2017 to make sure that customers have enough time to complete their projects.

Con Ed Q&A: Get Paid To Reduce Your Building's Energy Consumption

Bisnow: As a follow-up, how can customers take advantage of these technologies without sacrificing or halting productivity? What long-term benefits exist to making such a switch that outweigh any short-term losses?

Zirkiyev: With good planning, you can complete most of these projects with little inconvenience to tenants. If you’re replacing electric chillers with steam-driven chillers, for instance, crews can do the work in the winter months when the building doesn’t need cooling.

These projects pay off. You can save on electricity, reduce your carbon footprint and create a more comfortable environment for your tenants. And you’ll be helping Con Edison maintain the reliable electrical service New Yorkers need.

Bisnow: Do you have any advice for commercial building owners and developers hoping to make energy efficiency a core component of their next project? What is a small first step they can take?

Zirkiyev: The first step is to perform an energy audit of the facility. An expert walks through the building and reviews your energy usage to determine what steps you can take to save energy. Con Edison works with the customer right up until the project is completed. NYSERDA offers a program to help offset the cost of an energy audit.

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To learn more about Con Ed's Demand Management program, click here or email DemandManagement@coned.com.

To learn more about the requirements and timeline for the 2019 Demand Management Program, register now for the webinar Sept. 26.