NYC Co-op and Condominium Board Guide to Energy Efficiency Upgrades in Buildings

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Abstract NYC CO-OP AND CONDOMINIUM GUIDE TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY UPGRADES by Aimee Jia, Thomas Opp, David Smedick, Allison Smykal, Jason Symonds May 2012 The purpose of this project is to help Better Buildings New York (BBNY), a non-profit organization focused on increasing energy efficiency and decreasing energy bills of NYC buildings, educate multifamily co-op and condo boards on energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits available for their buildings. The current market for these technologies and opportunities is vast, and at times, overwhelming. Various energy efficiency technologies exist with different costs, energy savings and impacts. Therefore, there was a need to create a medium for which these technologies and benefits could be communicated in a quick, non-technical, and easily understood manner. BBNY’s audience for this project is co-op and condo boards in multifamily apartment buildings. In these types of buildings, they are the decision-makers who are responsible for making renovation/retrofit choices. Therefore, this project focuses around the myriad of energy efficient technologies that are applicable to multifamily building environments, and how to convey this information to this type of audience. The research team used literature review, NYC building data sets, and Department of Energy modeling software (eQUEST) to vet a list of technologies BBNY was interested in presenting to board members. Each technology was researched to find information relating to five areas: capital costs, energy efficiency gains, payback periods, consistency of payback periods, and difficulty of installation. Once this information was collected, the team decided that there would be two main deliverables for the client. The first deliverable is a full academic report that delves into the intricate methodology and technical analysis used to evaluate each technology. This report serves as a reference for understanding the various types of technologies available for multifamily retrofits, and a breakdown of their functionality. However, due to the background of the intended audience, the team wanted to create a way for the technologies to be easily understood and compared to one another.
Therefore, a second deliverable was developed with a ranking system to rate each of the technologies within the five previously defined areas. The ranking score used quantitative and qualitative information from the original research, and provided a way to compare the technologies against each other. The first part of the second deliverable is a condensed brochure that takes each technology and evaluates it on a single page, with a chart displaying the ranking score it received when compared to the whole list of technologies covered. The second part of the second deliverable is an MS Excel tool that offers a dynamic ranking system to provide a personalized list of technologies related to building attributes and user preference. From these two deliverables, BBNY has the means to provide co-op and condo boards with guidance on energy efficient, retrofit technologies. The decision-makers in thousands of multifamily buildings now have a starting point to learn what technologies may be appropriate for further investigation. It is through these types of grassroots, information campaigns that energy efficiency gains and carbon footprint reductions in multifamily buildings can become a reality in New York City.

Approved Dr. Peter Haff

April 18, 2012 Date Master's Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Environmental Management degree in the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University May 2012





Smykal, Allison, David Smedick, Jason Symonds, Yuan Jia and Thomas Opp (2012). NYC Co-op and Condominium Board Guide to Energy Efficiency Upgrades in Buildings. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.