‘The Green Picture’ with Erika Schnitzer: Energy Management, Technology and You

At GreenBuildingsNY—held in conjunction with BuildingsNY at the Jacob Javits Convention Center June 16-17—yesterday, I attended U.S. Energy Group’ s presentation, “The Art of Managing Buildings for Energy Efficiency.” David Unger, chief operating officer, discussed how building owners and mangers can reduce fuel usage by 10 to 30 percent by implementing an energy management system.

As I’ve previously discussed, part of Mayor Bloomberg’s plaNYC initiative proposes a new energy code for existing buildings, as well as a mandate that would require these buildings to make energy improvements to pay for themselves within five years.

According to Unger, implementing an energy management system pays for itself in about two years—and depending on the price of fuel, the ROI could be even faster. While existing buildings undergoing energy retrofits will certainly need to look at replacing their windows, doors, insulation and appliances, among many other renovations, utilizing an energy management system to regulate your boiler system will most likely be the first—and perhaps easiest—step you take on your path to lowering your building’s energy consumption—and your bills. (Click here for additional tips on making your building more energy-efficient.)

Such systems make energy retrofits seem relatively easy—with U.S. Energy Group’s management system, for example, you can manage all your properties from one remote computer and receive updates via email and text message—and cost-effective.

But not all energy-efficient improvements need to be technologically based.

HUD, DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) and the EPA (Environmental Protect Agency) have announced an interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities to help improve affordable housing, transportation options—and lower transit costs—all while protecting the environment in communities nationwide. (Click here for MHN’s coverage of this announcement).

Such government initiatives, however seemingly basic and broad they may be, are greatly applauded by many industry organizations.

What do you think? Should we focus more on technologically advanced systems that are easy to use and upgrade—but direct their attention on more specific building systems—or should we embrace a more general approach that takes into account entire neighborhoods? Is there a happy medium that we can all use?

Caption for group photo: The Superintendent of Banks for the
State of New York, Richard Neiman, together with Jerome Belson,
President of the Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York
(ABO), kicked off BuildingsNY 2009.

(Erika Schnitzer is associate editor at Multi-Housing News. She can be reached at  Erika.Schnitzer@nielsen.com)