New York City continues to be leader in greening its buildings and reducing energy consumption.
In 2011, NYC piloted its groundbreaking Energy Incentive Alignment Program at seven of its largest agencies. The program was designed to motivate the agencies to conserve energy and reduce costs by allowing them to receive earned energy savings if actual energy costs were less than budgeted, but pay for any energy costs that were greater than budgeted.
The Department of Parks and Recreation, one of the city’s largest energy consumers, has a widely varying stock of over 1,000 buildings, ranging from 600-plus small comfort stations to 35 recreation centers, two museums and three large administrative facilities. Parks is already doing a lot to reduce their environmental footprint, including:
- Installing solar thermal systems to heat the water at city indoor pools;
- Increasing the number of green and white roofs on their facilities;
- Sponsoring a 9-week energy contest to increase awareness and take steps to reduce consumption.
To take their energy-saving efforts one step further, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) launched a pilot training program at the Parks Department using GPRO’s Operations & Maintenance Essentials.
A wide range of people directly responsible for the energy use in their buildings, including building managers, deputy chiefs, analysts, engineers, as well as purchasing and office staff, attended the training. Matthew Brown, Energy Manager at the Parks Department and veteran GPRO instructor, spent a day and half showing the participants the relationship between building operations and climate change, and giving them a wide variety of strategies for reducing energy and water use—and saving money. Participants learned:
- How to measure the performance of their building;
- How to recognize problems with the building envelope and make improvements;
- Ways to minimize water use;
- How heating and cooling systems work and how they can be improved;
- The ways lighting promotes comfort and safety and how to minimize energy use while ensuring good lighting;
- How to maintain good indoor air quality;
- The best ways to deal with waste, both from building operations and the occupant’s perspective;
- How to deal with processes managed by outside sustainability experts, such as commissioning and energy auditing.
Response to the training was overwhelmingly positive: Said one participant:
“I just had a 20-minute conversation with someone about light fixtures, foot candles and CRI and that never would have happened before. Since I am responsible for eight facilities, I now have a much better idea of ways we can improve. I’m looking forward to the boiler trainings next!”
What makes this program stand out is the inclusion of management, procurement, purchasing and clerical personnel within the agency, all of whom play a critical role in how agencies manage repair and maintenance. Often, purchasing decisions are left up to procurement staff, but without an understanding of energy efficient products and associated benefits, it’s difficult to choose the most green option.
We are pleased that this pilot program successfully gave these city employees the knowledge they need to make their buildings more efficient as well as the motivation to act on that knowledge.