by Paul Bubny
NEW YORK CITY-Following on the state's April 2010 receipt of a $40-million federal stimulus grant to fund an energy-efficiency retrofit program, the Bloomberg administration is looking for an entrepreneurial CEO who would oversee a more ambitious program here. The city is currently seeking an executive director with a real estate background to head up the recently formed New York City Energy Efficiency Corp., one who will "establish NYCEEC as a key driver in accelerating the growth of New York City's energy efficiency retrofit market."
While the stimulus grant announced last April will fund Property Assessed Clean Energy loan programs and will be administered statewide by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the NYCEEC is structured as a public-private partnership at the city level, one that will make loans to help building owners fund energy-efficiency retrofits. According to the Bloomberg administration, the NYCEEC is intended to do the following: "develop scalable energy efficiency retrofit financing products and services for New York City building owners and tenants; educate New Yorkers about energy efficiency and renewable energy financing products, incentives, and services; and streamline and simplify access to information relating to energy efficiency financing and incentives."
Initially, the NYCEEC will be funded through $37.5 million in federal stimulus dollars. The money will come to the city from the US Department of Energy via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. and disbursed through the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.
Yet the goal is to make the NYCEEC self-sustaining in the long run. David Bragdon, hired this past August to replace Rohit Aggarwala as the city's director of long-term planning and sustainability, made it clear in an interview with Crain's New York Business that the idea is to get the private sector involved, leveraging the federal funds with money from financial institutions so that more projects can be financed. Bragdon told Crain's it's too early to tell how many loans will be made in 2011, how large they'll be on average or what kind of interest rates will be charged.
It's all in line with the Bloomberg administration's Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, enacted in December 2009 and intended to reduce the city's carbon footprint by nearly 5% by focusing on existing buildings of 50,000 square feet or more. The GGBP was designed to create a New York City energy conservation code and implements standards for building performance benchmarking, lighting retrofits and tenant submetering, and audit and retro-commissioning measures.
One rather high-profile existing building undergoing an energy-efficiency retrofit is the 2.8-million-square-foot Empire State Building. In a keynote speech during the Steven L. Newman Real Estate's seminar on repositioning properties this past October, Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, said he's been trying to take it out of the realm of "corporate responsibility" and "doing the right thing" into focusing on the economic argument.
Malkin told the Newman Institute audience he steers clear of the term "green," saying he's learned it's not synonymous with energy efficiency. "Green does not mean economic returns," he said. However, he warned that a failure to achieve energy efficiency would eventually become a liability in terms of either leasing a building or selling it.