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October 5, 2021

Part II: Will New York City’s largest buildings meet emissions reduction limits by 2024? Let’s find out in Part II.

By Elana Knopp, Senior Content Writer

In the next installment of our Edison Plugged In Series, which shines a spotlight on the people, projects, and perspectives of the Edison Energy team, we are featuring the insights of Saverio Grosso on New York City’s building emission legislation. As Edison Energy’s Managing Director, Saverio serves as the liaison to our marquee clients and contracts, fostering the relationship to ensure our services continually align with their project needs and goals. Click here to learn more about Saverio’s background.

In this second of a two-part series, Edison Energy’s Managing Director of Energy Optimization Saverio Grosso discusses how property owners are preparing to comply with New York City’s looming emissions reduction laws. Read part one here.

Breaking down barriers

New York City’s package of policies is expected to have major financial and environmental benefits and is likely to transform the way the real estate and financial industries value energy efficiency in buildings.

Along with significant job creation around energy audits, retro-commissioning, lighting upgrades, and equipment maintenance, the policies will also lower demand for electricity, making citywide electrical systems more reliable.

But getting property owners to implement energy optimization and efficiency projects can sometimes be an uphill battle, says Grosso.

“It’s going against the status quo,” he said. “Those challenges are always, ‘If the phone doesn’t ring and I don’t get any complaints, why change it?’ At times you’re convincing people to make efficiency improvements where they almost don’t think it’s necessary. And perhaps it’s because you’re dealing with someone within the organization who doesn’t see the bills and they don’t see the value of the energy usage. One of the strategies around convincing them is to show them how improved operations would enhance their day-to-day and will actually solve problems they might not be aware of.”

But building owners will soon have to get on board or be forced to grapple with financial consequences for noncompliance, potentially facing multimillion dollar annual fines beginning in 2024.

“There are going to be penalties for you to overcome if you don’t do this,” Grosso said. “This is a big challenge because in most cases these are existing buildings, existing systems that are operating 24 hours a day. We need to structure energy programs that can be implemented in the current setting, and then almost develop phases for larger improvements. In a hospital, I just can’t shut down a floor and renovate; there needs to be some planning around the financial aspect, scheduling, impact to their day-to-day. I have to plan projects and improvements with the building’s mission in mind. You need to really invest in the time and the effort, and there’s a cost to that.”

What property owners want

Building owners are increasingly investing in system controls to pull back on energy usage on their properties to improve efficiency and cut costs, says Grosso. They are also ramping up efforts to curtail the use of fossil fuels as a way to reduce emissions.

These initiatives require careful planning to ensure that baseline temperature, humidity and pressurization requirements are maintained throughout their properties.

“It’s really exciting because every single building we go into presents new challenges,” Grosso said. “The challenges range from equipment use, equipment age, and what they need to provide to keep their clients taken care of, to challenges with building operations and maintenance and budgets and around that building’s future. Because of the complexity of buildings and systems and, quite frankly, the people in the spaces and running the buildings, every building has a unique scenario that our services need to be crafted and tailored around.”

Some of Grosso’s favorite projects are those where he sees measurable reductions in energy usage. He also enjoys working with building operators and managers who have insights into the property’s systems. This often results in building operators who are willing to make energy optimization investments into their buildings, and who see the value to these investments.

“There’s this idea around reliability, energy usage, and just overall improvement for the building,” he said. “The fun projects are the ones that touch all of those. But the best ones are when, at the end of the project, the building operations staff is appreciative that we helped them. The property manager is thrilled that we captured some savings, and the owner is happy that we put them on a path so that they don’t have to pay any fines as the legislation comes down in 2024 or 2030. Some of our better projects have helped not only use less energy but ease some of the burden on O&M personnel, improve reliability of systems, and reduce some risk.”

As the battle against climate change ramps up, and as American cities continue to enact emissions reduction mandates, Grosso says Edison’s energy optimization and efficiency offerings will continue to evolve and expand.

But Edison’s mission and vision will remain firm.

“I think our vision is always to improve the buildings that we work in so they can provide a better value to their clients,” Grosso said. “A lot of the driving force is that we want to simplify managing, purchasing and utilizing energy–there’s complexity around it on a day-to-day basis. We want to help building owners and operators better understand how to take care of the people who are in their buildings in a more cost-effective manner, in a way that provides a better space, comfort level and a better atmosphere. Our business is to keep the businesses and their clients on their mission in the most energy efficient manner.”

Learn more about valuable energy conservation measures, incentive programs and regional legislative updates, and recent case studies in Edison Energy’s Energy Optimization Newsletter. Click here to read our latest issue.

Click here to explore previous installments in our Edison Plugged In Series and stay tuned for the next feature in the series!