Before the last week of October 2012, the notion of resiliency was largely an afterthought for the New York City real estate industry. Then Superstorm Sandy hit.
Lights went out. Basements and boiler rooms flooded. A lack of diesel fuel rendered emergency generators silent. Apartments were left without the basics: electricity, running water, elevators, heat, and general access to the outside world. Remembering lower Manhattan in a complete blackout still sends chills through the spine of the Oculus.
By Halloween, Sandy was gone but owners, managers, and tenants alike had already begun thinking about how to make their commercial and residential buildings resilient enough to stand up to the next Superstorm.
Resiliency makes your building stronger — and more profitable.
How do you make your building more resilient? With technologies like solar, cogeneration, and battery storage,* you can produce and store cleaner power at your buildings and provide site-level power security against utility outages. By carefully selecting, configuring, and operating the right set of technologies, a resilient power system can even pay for itself through demand reduction, peak shaving, and reduced supply cost. Bright Power’s Resilient Power Hub integrates solar, batteries, and cogeneration to provide:
- Energy cost savings
- Reliable, efficient onsite power generation
- Cleaner backup power
- Power security
- Reduced risk
A resilient building is a more profitable building. Being prepared for superstorms like Sandy is critical. But so is having clean and efficient systems to help your daily operation. Peak demand shaving? Yes. Cheaper electricity? Check. Safer and healthier residents? You got it!
How are real estate owners prioritizing resiliency?
Located steps from the Atlantic Ocean in Rockaway, New York, Arverne View was not originally built to withstand major storms like Sandy. L+M Development Partners acquired the property soon after Sandy, and worked with Bright Power to revitalize the community and develop a long-term resiliency and sustainability strategy.
The improvements implemented were focused on both maximizing utility savings and allowing the property to better withstand another Sandy-like event. These included installing new storm-proofed HVAC systems, and exterior wall insulation that both makes it easier and less costly to maintain desired indoor temperature and provided much-needed facade improvements. More recently, Bright Power worked with L+M to install 36 kW of battery storage and 36 kW of solar PV at the property to power onsite offices, emergency indoor and outdoor lighting, booster water pumps, and a community room in the event of an electric utility outage. On a regular basis, the solar and battery systems will provide peak demand shaving to reduce electric costs throughout the year.
Now, Arverne View is well-equipped to keep essential systems operating in the face of storms and grid outages while also keeping energy costs low.
Community Access is in the final stages of construction on their 126-unit affordable and supportive housing building on East 172nd in the Bronx. As with many affordable or supportive developments, it was important to build housing with low long-term operating costs. With a priority on operating efficiency and resiliency, Community Access worked with Bright Power to install a Resilient Power Hub (RPH) – a combination of a 53 kW solar PV system, an 18 kW battery storage system, and a 10 kW cogeneration unit.
The solar PV and cogeneration systems would create much-needed cost savings while the battery system, during an electric grid disruption, would run critical equipment to keep residents safe.
By installing the RPH, the project team was able to use a small emergency generator to meet code-required loads. Without the RPH, the building would have needed to install a larger, more costly backup generator. While a large generator would have powered critical equipment in the event of an electric grid disruption, such a system would have provided no operational savings to Community Access.
With these technologies, Community Access will not only be able to avoid peak demand times, but in the event of a power outage, they will have backup electricity to power an elevator, water pumps, lighting to the corridors and exit stairwells, and the fire alarm. Importantly, the RPH will produce ongoing cost-savings so Community Access can provide resilient power that pays for itself over time, unlike the traditional generator.
“Managing energy consumption efficiently is better for our world, and reducing energy costs means more can be spent on programs and facilities for our tenants.”- Steve Coe, CEO of Community Access.
Protect your properties and residents
Resiliency improvements arm buildings with consistent, efficient, and reliable power on a day-to-day basis. And they keep the building operating during an emergency. Technologies like the Resilient Power Hub can maintain your ROI and help you contribute to the fight against climate change through the use of renewable and cleaner energy systems. Not sure where to start? Find out if your new development or existing building is a good fit for resiliency solutions by contacting one of our experts today!
*Solar harnesses the energy from the sun, producing site-level electricity. Battery storage captures and stores electricity for later use during peak demand pricing and grid outages. Cogeneration systems use natural gas to produce power onsite, generating electricity and pre-heated domestic hot water (a byproduct of electric generation). These systems power electrical systems such as common area lighting, elevators, pumps, and laundry and help reduce costs in areas where electricity rates are high.
Village East Towers (VET) had their two 65kW Capstone cogeneration units delivered the last week of May.
The project design pairs the two cogeneration units with backup generators for added resiliency. The cogeneration units will provide electrical and thermal energy savings for the residents along with backup power in the event of an electrical blackout.
Bright Power first began working with the board of VET, a 434-unit Mitchell-Lama multifamily residential cooperative located on East 10th Street and Avenue C, in 2016 to conduct a feasibility analysis. VET’s architect then hired Bright Power to provide Design and Implementation services to ensure project success. The scope of work also includes replacing some of the electrical infrastructures at the property.
Bright Power has been working with VET’s architects, contractors, and the board to complete the project – set to be completed later this summer. To help offset the cost of the project, the co-op received a $9.95 million federal resiliency grant from HUD that was locally administered by the HDC.
Read more about the exciting project here.
“In a rapidly changing, complex, and interconnected world, it is becoming increasingly important to analyze tomorrow’s challenges today. Through the McCloy Fellowships on Global Trends, the American Council on Germany is tackling overarching issues that affect communities around the world in the areas of urbanization, climate change and sustainability, technological breakthroughs, and demographics and social change.” – American Council on Germany
As a McCloy Fellow, I will be traveling to Germany for three weeks in March to better understand what is being done at the forefront of the efforts to mitigate climate change. As a former city planner and current manager of efficiency and renewable energy projects for my affordable housing clients in NY, I feel the threat of climate change on the horizon like an oncoming storm. Only five years ago, Superstorm Sandy whipped through the City, claiming lives, leaving millions without power, and wreaking havoc on homes and city infrastructure. It was the first consequence of a warming planet to really hit home, and it shattered the city’s veil of invincibility.
This sentiment is becoming a shared experience across cities worldwide. Communities have recognized their own imminent dangers that will result from a destabilizing climate. For low-income residents in New York City, who are already economically vulnerable, changing weather patterns can result in higher utility bills as residents compensate for hotter summers and unpredictable winters. Worse still, low-income residents often live in areas more vulnerable to storm impacts. In response, many cities have put forth bold plans to tackle the challenges of global warming. And still, there is more progress to be made.
Being A Part of the Solution
With a background in engineering and urban planning, I feel uniquely responsible to help address this issue. At Bright Power, we contribute to these efforts by partnering with developers to make their affordable housing developments more sustainable and resilient – like at Arverne View, where a renovation was able to reduce onsite energy consumption by almost a third while improving tenant comfort. Bright Power also developed the Resilient Power Hub as a means to provide emergency backup power in the event of a blackout – particularly relevant for affordable and supportive housing communities, which often include elderly residents and residents with medical needs.
Through the McCloy fellowship, I plan to improve our ability to contribute to these cutting-edge projects even further by learning what is being done at the forefront of the efforts to mitigate climate change, so I can advocate for these measures on a local level and contribute to the collective fight. And as a young professional, I know that our very futures depend on it.
Not many industrialized countries can surpass Germany with regards to the breadth and depth with which the issue of climate change is being addressed. Since 2005, the German government has paid explicit and consistent attention to the issue, documenting the anticipated challenges that result from climate change, as well as strategies for risk mitigation and adaptation. In 2016, Germany released its Climate Action Plan 2050, which outlines the strategies for achieving the nation’s climate goals. That same year, the “Integrated Environmental Programme” report was released, describing past achievements and outlining specific focus areas to aid the nation in reaching the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an outcome of the Paris Climate Change Conference of 2015. In 2016, Germany was ranked first in the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s international energy efficiency scorecard.
There is much that the United States—and countries around the world—can learn from German initiatives. Over the course of my three-week fellowship in Germany, I will learn about climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts from the front lines of where these efforts are being enacted by asking this question: How is the buildings industry responding to the needs of a changing climate? My research and interviews will focus on innovations in the built environment, including housing-specific initiatives and community-scale strategies, that seek to mitigate the consequences of climate change.
I look forward to sharing best practices, lessons learned, and key strategies that can be implemented here in the United States. Together we can work towards our collective well-being and a future in which we can all thrive.
Our hearts go out to those who were affected by multiple hurricanes over the past months. We know that the road to recovery is long and daunting, as we are still rebuilding after the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy five years ago. We also know that you can bounce back stronger and more resilient than before.
Take Ocean Bay Apartments – a 24-building, 1,395-unit complex located in Far Rockaway, New York – which was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and began redevelopment this year. Among major energy efficiency and storm resiliency measures, over the next year, Bright Power will install a 575 kW solar PV system across 20 buildings.
MDG Design + Construction LLC tells the amazing recovery story in this video.