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16 Jun 2017
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Technology for Co-ops and Condos to Combat Climate Change

Last week we discussed Local Law 84 that requires New York buildings that are larger than 50,000 square feet to annually measure and report their energy and water consumption in an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% in New York City, and whether to require buildings to publicize to residents, buyers, and brokers a letter grade for the building’s energy efficiency. Now we are switching our focus – what can owners, shareholders, and tenants do to limit the emissions coming from your building?

Society needs a shift to ensure that housing is both environmentally responsible and economically efficient – sustainable for the future. Ideally, co-ops and condos will produce more energy than they use by slowly eradicating the reliance on fossil fuels and incorporating new technology such as photovoltaic cells or photosynthetic layers on the outer surface of buildings, roofs, and windows. Photovoltaic cells produce an electric current when subjected to different light strengths, which produces energy, whereas a photosynthetic layer will act as a large leaf during photosynthesis, absorbing energy to maintain the energy needs of the building. This energy would then convert into everyday household uses, such as heating water, generating electricity, and even charging electric cars. Tesla even produces durable solar roofs using invisible solar cells. Co-ops and condos can implement these sleek tiles on their roofs to create energy absorbing buildings.

Since over half of the electricity used in the U.S. derives from coal power plants, it is crucial to utilize other sources for energy production. In New York, developers have placed wind turbines on top of luxury apartment buildings, co-ops and condos. Ron Moelis, the principal of L&M Development, forecasted that “tenants would be drawn to something different” referring to the three wind turbines that sit on Pearson Court Square in Long Island City. The turbines provide 12 kilowatts of power which provide lighting in the lobby, hallways, gym and roof. L&M is known for its ecological commitment as they “use solar panels, insulated glass, and super-efficient boilers”.

Architects for the past few years have looked for innovative ways to design homes that are ecologically sound. Innovators have introduced “cement that would absorb carbon dioxide” and created “special surfaces on the [building that] would capture condensation for water use”, and “self-healing paints that contain microscopic capsules of color” to repair any damage. It is important to be mindful of the materials used in your building; avoid heavy metals and use “low-chemical-emitting paints and carpets” and other non-toxic household products.

Cars also play a large role in polluting the City. Over the past few years, hybrids and electric cars have become more affordable and accessible. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo implemented a $70 million electric car rebate and outreach initiative which offers rebates up to $2,000 for individuals buying hybrids, electric or hydrogen fueled cars. This will help New York “reduce greenhouse gas emission by 40 percent by 2030.”

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