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New and Notable

July 01, 2005
July/August 2005
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2005 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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NYC Affordable Housing Now More Efficient

New York City will soon feel a little cozier, not to mention a little more affordable, thanks to energy efficiency upgrades in approximately 5,000 affordable housing units. The High-Performance Housing Initiative, which was developed through the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will secure funding for the upgrades. The initiative is part of an agreement between Governor George E. Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Through the High-PerformanceHousing Initiative, affordable housing units participating in New York City’s residential rehabilitation programs will install energy-efficient lighting, boilers, windows, insulation, refrigerators, ventilators, and energy-monitoring systems. These improvements are expected to produce an estimated $6 million in annual energy savings.

Mayor Bloomberg says,“We’re pursuing every possible avenue to find innovative ways to keep housing affordable for New Yorkers, including determining ways to lower monthly operating expenses. I want to thank Governor Pataki and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for working with us to save New York City building owners and tenants money on their monthly energy bills.”

The energy efficiency upgrades are being underwritten by New York State, which is making an initial commitment to HPD in the amount of over $7 million, through the New York Energy $mart Assisted Multifamily program (AMP). Since 2000,AMP has worked to improve energy efficiency in approximately 95,000 affordable housing units in 40 counties. The program provides a range of incentives for adding energy efficiency improvements in publicly assisted multifamily residential properties and capital projects.

In the first phase of the new energy efficiency upgrades, NYSERDA will provide approximately $3.5 million to cover the cost of energy-related improvements in the rehabilitation of approximately 2,000 housing units. During the second phase, NYSERDA will provide an estimated $2.1 million to cover 80% of the cost of energy-related improvements in approximately 1,500 housing units. In the final phase, NYSERDA will also provide $1.6 million towards the cost of another 1,500 housing units.

The High-Performance Housing Initiative was created when HPD sought NYSERDA’s assistance in revising its building specifications to meet high-energy efficiency standards. Community Environmental Center, a not-for-profit energy conservation contractor, was hired to review HPD’s rehabilitation guidelines and to recommend changes that would promote energy efficiency in affordable housing and reduce fuel and electricity costs for owners and tenants.

HDP targeted eleven buildings for its initial energy efficiency improvements. These were 915 Prospect Avenue; 3414, 3416, and 3428 Park Avenue; 3414, 3416 and 3318 Third Avenue; 797 East 170th Street; 581 East 164th Street; and 984 Boston Road in the Bronx. A total of 101 apartments were rehabilitated through HDP's Neighborhood Entrepreneurs program. Financing was provided by Banco Popular, which provided $15.5 million, and by HPD, which provided $10.7 million. Approximately $900,000 of proceeds from the sale of low-income housing tax credits syndicated by the Enterprise Social Investment Corporation also provided support for the program. NYSERDA provided $176,649 to fund the incremental cost of the energy enhancements.

For more information, go to www.nyc.gov/hpd.


Find Peace of Mind

Did you know that major accidents on the job site are covered by general liability insurance? Although rare, major accidents can happen in our industry. Consider the following scenarios: You are at a job site and the homeowner trips on a piece of your equipment and breaks his hip, resulting in high medical bills; or your ladder falls on the homeowner’s child, causing a brain injury with lifelong consequences. Fair or not, you could be sued and held responsible.

If you are protected by general liability insurance, you’re covered—accidents like the ones described above will not threaten your business or be a burden on your bottom line. To give you peace of mind, the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) has negotiated low-cost general liability insurance for its members that is specifically designed for energy raters. And RESNET has arranged for financing the premiums at very affordable rates. There’s no excuse for not having liability insurance, and now it’s become more affordable to energy raters.

For more information about the liability insurance offered through RESNET, go to www.natresnet.org/insurance/default.htm.



New Global Climate Change Web Site Online

Californians interested in learning more about global climate change now have an ally in their education. The California Energy Commission has just launched a new Web site,www.climatechange.ca.gov. This site combines previous Energy Commission Web pages on climate change with links to other California state agencies and private entities that address the impact of global warming on California's resources, agriculture, ecosystems, forestry,water supply, and overall economy. The Web site is also the home for the California Climate Change Center, which conducts global warming research under the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.

“California, the fifth largest economy in the world, is involved in a broad strategy in responding to climate change,” says Energy Commissioner James D. Boyd.“Such a multipronged approach includes the continued development of California's renewable energy resources, further advancements in building and appliance energy efficiency standards, as well as adherence to, and further growth of, energy efficiency in our use of electricity, natural gas and transportation
fuels. Moreover, California is the only state in the nation with a publicly funded climate change research effort.”

The Web site provides links to federal agencies, other state governments, international organizations, research groups, and other organizations involved in responding to climate change. These groups are dedicated to promoting energy and economic security and improving public health and safety while continuing to try to decrease the release of CO2 and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

For more information, go to www.climatechange.ca.gov.



New Firm Emphasizes Building Science

The principals of 3-D Building Solutions, LLC, have announced that the firm will specialize in building investigation, architectural design review, and training for both the residential and the commercial building industries.The three principals—Nathan Yost, Peter Yost, and Steven Baczek—worked together at Building Science Corporation for three years
before deciding to start their own firm.

“We have a unique approach as a consulting firm,” says managing principal Nathan Yost, M.D., who is based in Columbus, Ohio. “We use the same model for all of our work, whether it’s a moisture investigation on a commercial high-rise building, a systems integration design review on a custom home, or building science training for production
home builders.”

The company uses building science to systematically and comprehensively study the relationships among durability, risk management and quality, and the system interactions among energy efficiency, indoor air quality (IAQ), comfort, and service life.

The Yost brothers and Baczek have a cumulative experience of more than 50 years in construction and research in the building industry.They also have individual areas of expertise in indoor air quality, architecture and building technology,
and green building.

The company is based in Columbus, Ohio, though Peter Yost works from Brattleboro,Vermont, and Steve Baczek from Reading, Massachusetts.The firm offers consulting services nationally; its initial clients include a product manufacturer based in the Northeast, a high-performance home program based in the South, and an architectural firm located on the West Coast.

For more information, go to www.3-d-buildingsolutions.com.


Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Reductions Earn Accolades


A number of home builders across the country have won recognition from EPA and DOE for outstanding contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.

Winners were recognized in an awards ceremony, held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC, on March 15. Winners in the category Excellence in Efficient Homes include Astoria Homes (Las Vegas, Nevada); Cambridge Homes (Altamonte Springs, Florida); D.R.Horton Incorporated, Sacramento Division (Forth Worth, Texas);David Powers Homes (Houston, Texas); Energy Sense (Houston, Texas); Guaranteed Watt Saver Systems West, Incorporated (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma); and Veridian Homes (Madison,Wisconsin).

Introduced by EPA in 1992, Energy Star seeks to reduce air pollution through increased energy efficiency. Last year alone, Energy Star programs and appliances saved enough energy to power 20 million homes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 20 million cars—all while saving consumers $10 billion. More than 360,000 new homes have earned the Energy Star distinction.

Other winners included the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University (Willimantic, Connecticut) in the category Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Education; Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency in the category National Product Campaign; and 3M in the category Leadership in Energy Management, among many others.

For more information, go to www.energystar.gov.


Grants Support Energy Improvements

The USDA's Rural Development program recently announced the availability of $22.8 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Rural Development's mission is to support economic opportunity and quality-of-life improvements for rural residents. In the past five years, it has invested over $50 billion in an effort to provide equity and
technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership and business development.

The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements loan and grant program was established by Section 9006 of the 2002 Farm Bill to help agricultural producers and small rural businesses to create renewable and energy-efficient systems. These new funds will be used to develop a wide range of technologies. These include biomass (including anaerobic digesters), hydrogen, solar, geothermal, and wind energy. Energy efficiency improvements will also be funded.

The $22.8 million will be made available in two stages. Half of the funds—$11.4 million—will be available immediately.
This money may be applied to renewable energy grants. Applications must be for amounts ranging from $2,500 to $500,000. Grants for energy efficiency improvements will range from $2,500 to $250,000. The remaining $11.4 million will be reserved through August 31, 2005, for renewable energy and energy efficiency guaranteed loans. Any funds not obligated under the guarantee loan program by August 31, 2005, will be reallocated to the competitive grant program.

For more information, go to www.rurdev.usda.gov.


Green Power Surging Ahead

The amount of energy bought by the top 25 green power purchasers could power over 150,000 homes, according to EPA.Topping the list is the U.S.Air Force, which purchases over 321,000,000 kWh annually for the country's Air Force bases. Johnson & Johnson is second, with purchases of over 241,000,000 kWh annually. Other top purchasers include EPA,Whole Foods Market,WhiteWave Foods, the city of San Diego, Staples, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.

Together, these purchasers buy over 1.6 billion kWh of green power annually. They are all members of EPA's Green Power Partnership. The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary EPA program working to standardize green power procurement as part of best practice environmental management. Over 550 partners currently participate in the program. Currently, green power—from sources such as solar,wind, and geothermal—accounts for only 2 % of the nation's electrical supply. However, with continued voluntary purchasing, this number is likely to go up.

For more information on green power, go to www.epa.gov/greenpower.

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