We Always Knew it was True

The place to start sustainable practice isn't on the roof with solar collectors, but in the boiler room with insulation and controls. So says a new study carried out by our colleagues at Steven Winter Associates and HR&A Advisors and featured in the New York Times.  The study, headed up by Marc Zuluaga of the Green Codes Task Force and There Are Holes in Our Walls, shows that energy efficiency retrofits  resulted in a 19 percent savings on fuel bills and a 10 percent savings on electricity across the 19,000 units studied.

Urban Green Board Chair Jeff Brodsky, the president of Related Management said: “This study proves that the assumption that you can’t rely on savings when doing a retrofit isn’t true. It may not be perfect or exact, but you will see savings.”

There was also wide variability, with some buildings showing much greater savings and (presumably) some showing less. The hope is that this study can be used as a tool to persuade not only the landlords to retrofit, but also the lenders to underwrite larger loans based on projected savings. “We are trying to catalyze a new financing market to satisfy the growing demand for retrofits,” said Susan Leeds, the chief executive of the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation.

The full report, commissioned by Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation and Living Cities, will be released later this month.

Full disclosure: Of course I think it's a great study; I contributed some of the data from earlier work on NYSERDA's Assisted Multifamily Program.

Related Articles:
Showing the Benefits of ‘Green’ Retrofits [6/1/2010 New York Times]: Announcement of the study.

Photo credit: LeSimonPix

About the author

Richard Leigh
Richard Leigh is a Visiting Professor of Physics at Pratt Institute, primarily teaching courses in building science. He formerly served as Urban Green's Director of Research, where he managed research projects including the 2016 New York City Auditing and Benchmarking Report for 2013 data and 90 by 50, showing that New York City can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 90 percent below current levels by 2050.