Going green and reaping the benefits

Going green and reaping the benefits

August 10, 2017

Our Manhattan-based nonprofit, Housing and Services, Inc., recently partnered with Con Edison’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency Incentives Program to deliver critical services within one of New York City’s largest destinations for chronically homeless individuals exiting the city’s shelter system.

HSI implemented the program in Kenmore Hall, which has 326 units of supportive housing with on-site services for former chronically homeless adults, including 108 veterans. The partnership is helping us more efficiently deliver services in this 22-story building in the Flatiron District of Manhattan without much disruption.

In October 2016, HSI attended an energy efficiency seminar sponsored by the Supportive Housing Network of New York, where we learned about the energy efficiency program. As part of a $12 million renovation funded by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, plans were already underway to upgrade Kenmore’s two aging boilers with high-efficiency boilers.After installing the new boilers, Kenmore will use at least 20 percent less gas.

Under Con Edison’s energy efficiency program, Kenmore was eligible for more than $22,000 in incentive funds on top of the more than $22,000 saved in energy costs during the first year. This is a huge windfall for an organization that, like many nonprofits, operates on razor-thin margins. The Con Edison incentive funds will go a long way toward increasing on-site mental health services to the formerly homeless veterans, most of whom have long histories of chronic homelessness, undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and severe mental illness. In subsequent years, the energy savings will continue to help Kenmore fund services to veterans.

Initially, HSI was reluctant to pursue the energy efficiency program, envisioning lots of paperwork, construction disruptions and delays. However, the application process was simple, beginning with a two-page application form. Our heating, ventilation and air conditioning subcontractor attended a two-hour training session provided by Willdan Energy Solutions and became an approved contractor for Con Edison’s program. After reviewing the new high-efficiency boiler specifications, engineers conducted an on-site preinstallation inspection of the project. Soon after, we received a letter stating that the new boiler installation could begin and that Con Edison was committing more than $22,000 in incentive funds. When the boiler installation is complete, there will be another inspection of the new high-efficiency boilers.

For HSI, the entire application process took less than three hours and yielded great benefits – so other supportive housing developers undertaking new housing projects or preserving existing projects may want to consider whether they’re eligible for this program as well.

Mary Galbally is director of real estate development with Housing and Services Inc.

Mary Galbally