Monthly Archives: June 2015

CCES Case Study: NYC Local Law 87 Compliance for 2 Beverage Warehouses

Climate Change & Environmental Services (CCES) was the lead engineer for Manhattan Beer Distributors’ efforts to comply with New York City Local Law 87 (LL 87). Manhattan Beer Distributors operates two warehouse/office complexes in Bronx, NY.

CCES performed the energy audit and the retrocommissioning study for each 160,000+ sf facility to comply with NYC’s LL 87. An experienced CCES energy expert reviewed historic energy usage data, visited the facilities, and collected and analyzed technical data concerning its lighting, rooftop HVAC units, windows, and equipment operations. The data was used to develop an end-use estimate of electricity and natural gas usage by different equipment and operations. CCES developed a number of Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) to reduce energy use and peak electricity demand, all with estimated costs, energy savings, and simple paybacks. Each strategy would result in a positive return on initial investment; potential financial incentives for the upfront costs through NYSERDA and Con Ed programs were considered in the calculations.

CCES also performed retro-commissioning of existing systems on-site at the two buildings, including inspecting HVAC, lighting, and building envelope. CCES determined a small number of deficiencies which Manhattan Beer Distributors quickly addressed to allow optimal operation of their systems.

Finally, CCES developed the appropriate reports required by LL 87, and submitted them to the NYC Dept of Buildings in a timely manner.

CCES has the certified professionals to perform and complete all parts of NYC Local Law 87 compliance requirements. Plus, we can help you use the information gained in the effort to help you reduce energy costs and gain other financial benefits. Contact us at 914-584-6720 or at

Ensuring our Energy Security: Microgrids

We have been fortunate in the U.S., especially compared to other nations. We gripe about many things, but electricity is pretty much steady and reliable. Unlike in some developing nations, it is rare that electricity is not delivered.

This may be changing. As we are getting out of our recession and technology grows and becomes more affordable, people and businesses are using more and more electricity: bigger, flat-screen TVs, more sophisticated smart phones, gadgets, etc. that do more things and thus need more electricity and have the battery charged more often. But the infrastructure needed to produce and transport this additional electricity right to our homes and businesses is expensive and needs upgrading. There is a growing risk – especially during the peak demand season, such as during hot summer workdays – that there will be electricity shortages and brownouts. What can we do to lessen the risk?

This is part one of ideas to ensure our electric security. Other ideas will be presented soon. Microgrids are catching on as a way to avert power outages and to allow greater local control of energy management. Having one’s own local or regional power plant was once considered laughable and unaffordable for any company or municipality. Of course, when the U.S. became electrified this was indeed the model, and to this day some old local utilities still exist. Large grid systems became more economical with help from government to encourage electrification of sparsely populated areas. But now technology is making microgrids affordable and economically beneficial in some cases for a series of companies or a portion of a whole municipality. And now with many large utilities acknowledging that they cannot keep up with the growing demand for electricity unless they can raise billions in infrastructure upgrades and politicians concerned about the reaction of ratepayers to the resulting steep rise in costs, a number of states have developed incentive programs to study and build microgrids.

Microgrids can be used as a backup to traditional grid electricity supply for peak demand periods only, reducing the risk of an electric failure. This is why many utilities actually favor these “competitors”, and therefore, some states are encouraging this, too. But if an entity is investing in a microgrid, it is certainly not going to want it to stay idle, but to operate continually, with the main grid acting as a backup if it needs to go down.

Microgrids became possible thanks to the improvement in technology and affordability of combined heat and power (CHP or “co-generation”), particularly thermal efficiency of 80% of fuel combusted producing and using both steam and electricity. If one or a group of entities can use both electricity and steam 24/7, then a CHP locally may be cost-effective, particularly as there is less loss in transporting energy long distances. Another factor that helped drive microgrid viability is renewable energy. With the drop in the cost of solar and wind energy, some new microgrids are incorporating these technologies in conjunction with fuel combustion. Also, improvements in storage technology (batteries) have helped, too.

Finally, a microgrid can go beyond just a reliable energy source for a group of users, but an information asset, as well. The need to coordinate microgrid operation with demand for steam and electricity makes them an effective energy manager for buildings and regions. Real-time data collected can indicate needs which the buildings can use to reduce peak demand or become more energy efficient, reducing costs even more.

More states and utilities are offering incentives for microgrids. Plan on one or a group of users who can use electricity and steam 24/7 and have a feasibility study performed of whether a microgrid is possible and what the costs and economic benefits may be.

CCES can manage the evaluation of your short- and long-term energy (thermal and electricity) needs. We can help you become more energy efficient and provide suggestions to widen your choices, giving you more control of your energy supply and cost. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Huge Untapped Financial Benefits for Buildings (How You Can Profit from Complying With Energy Laws)

Marc Karell will participate in a free webinar on the topic of using the various local laws to substantially reduce your energy costs on Tuesday, June 30 at 2:00 pm. See EE Reports ( to learn more about and to register for the free webinar.

Over the last few years, New York City government has put into effect several new laws affecting energy usage of large (>50,000 sq. ft.) buildings. Local Law (LL) 84 requires such buildings to enter their energy usage data (electricity, gas, oil) into a database for public view. The building does not have to reduce energy use; just enter data annually. LL 87 requires a building to perform a thorough energy audit and retro-commissioning study once per decade. Other municipalities have passed or are considering passing similar “benchmarking” and minimum energy standard rules.

Many owners/managers approach compliance to any law as “checking off the boxes”, and then ignore what comes from it. But that is not a good way to think about it in this case. Complying with laws like these also provides you with information about your building to pinpoint energy upgrades to maximize your financial benefits.

First, collecting energy usage data per NYC LL 84 provides you with information on how your building stands compared to similar ones. Are you using more or less energy than others to keep warm or cool, for lighting, etc.? If you are using less energy, then congratulations, and go out and publicize this unassailable fact to attract more tenants. If you use more energy than similar buildings, then you have the impetus to know that you can do better. Plus, the exercise creates the data to pinpoint the likely areas to get improvement and to get the most bang for the buck in reductions.

The energy audits of NYC LL 87 require developing a list of energy conservation measures (ECMs), site-specific strategies to reduce energy usage and demand. Each one will result in direct cost savings to more than make up for the initial investment. Utility and NY State incentives can pay you some of the upfront costs! But note that many of these programs in NY are scheduled to end in 2016. So do not wait too long. For those concerned about accepting such subsidies, remember, in NY, that these come from a fund financed by you, the user, in your SBC charge in your utility bill. So you are merely taking back money you put into the system for such projects!

If finding available funds for the upfront costs of an ECM is difficult, there are a number of entities (private and public) that will loan you this money, knowing the fine ROI of energy projects. Terms may be arranged so that you pay back the principal and interest from your energy savings, giving you positive cash flow at all times.

LL 87 retro-commissioning is composed of meeting 25 different standards for equipment operation, such as checking for leaks, clogged filters, broken lights, etc. All deficiencies found during site inspections must be addressed. They are normally low or no-cost fixes. The importance of this is the assurance that your energy systems are operating properly. After spending perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars on your HVAC, lights, etc., isn’t it smart to make sure they are operating as they are supposed to? To make sure you get your money’s worth?

But remember that besides potential significant cost savings on your electricity, gas, and oil bills, performing energy upgrades has other strong financial benefits:

• New energy technologies generally last longer than those replaced. Therefore, you need to purchase and have on hand fewer replacements (another cost savings) and you need less space to store backup items. In addition, these new technologies need to be serviced less often, freeing up your O&M staff to do other projects for your tenants. In particular, for lights, this means fewer trips up and down the ladder or cherry picker, saving time and reducing risks of an accident.

• A more energy efficient building attracts more and potentially a better quality of tenant, giving you the upper hand to set rents and conditions. Energy efficient buildings have a better re-sale value, as well.

• Better lighting and improved comfort result in a more productive staff, which you and your tenants can appreciate, and a better shopping experience, which your retail tenants will appreciate. For example, modern LED lights have less glare than many fluorescents that are replaced, resulting in less eye strain, fewer breaks needed, and a more productive staff. Proper lighting and comfort lead to a better experience for the shopper, which a retail tenant strives for.

So don’t view the NYC Local Laws for energy as just another law you have to comply with, but instead as something to smartly take advantage of to seize the many benefits of reducing your energy usage and energy costs which will only rise in the future. Take the information you get about your building and use it to maximize your financial gains.

Marc Karell, P.E., CEM, EBCP, is a Principal of Climate Change & Environmental Services, LLC, a technical firm that helps building owners and managers perform energy studies and upgrades to maximize financial and productivity benefits. CCES has the experience to help you save significant energy costs. Contact us at 914-584-6720 or at

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Units

One problem many building managers face is heating or cooling a large, complex building with many zones and many diverse needs for temperature control. A technology called Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF), popular in Europe and growing in the U.S., saves building managers money and aggravation compared to conventional HVAC systems.

Conventional HVAC systems are turned totally on for heating or cooling until not needed, then turned totally off. VRF differs in that it varies the flow rate of water or refrigerant being delivered via piping to the fan coil/air handling units of each zone from an outdoor unit, based on individual sensors / controls in each room. The basic outdoor unit is a pump that will either heat or cool the building, but will vary the flow depending on the changes needed. Some advanced systems allow heat recovery where captured wasted energy from one room can be used in another. It allows different parts of the building to be heated or cooled at the same time. Certain outdoor units can heat or cool up to 50 rooms.

VRF is most appropriate for buildings with complex heating/cooling zones or varied requirements, such as hospitals, schools, hotels, multi-family housing, retail complexes, and certain offices.

VRF typically reduces energy usage by over 30% compared to traditional HVAC equipment. It has lower installation, maintenance, and lifecycle costs than traditional HVAC equipment, it lighter in weight than chilled-water systems, reducing the load on a roof. VRF requires less duct space than conventional systems, improved the aesthetics of a building’s exterior, allowing repurposing of otherwise unusable space, removes the need for window AC units, and increasing design flexibility for contractors / installers. VRF systems are quieter, and have less opportunity for mold growth. It can be used with smart systems to deliver accurate reports on individual room / occupant energy usages, allowing more accurate charging of tenants.

One disadvantage of VRF is its initial high capital cost. However, given its energy savings, VRF should be a good long-term investment, and likely qualifies for energy incentives and low-cost financing. Another problem to note is the shortage of contractors experienced in installing and starting up such a system.

Thanks to EE Reports ( which provided information about VRF and is a source of much energy savings technology information.

CCES can help your building evaluate your energy usage and demand and recommend strategies and technologies that will save you significant cost, provide additional financial benefits, and improve building value and worker productivity. We can produce results for your buildings now. Contact us at 9140584-6720 or at