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Tower East Case Study

Taking Ownership of Electricity use in NYC Co-op

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All residents of New York City's Tower East co-op paid the same monthly electricity bill, whether or not they were conservative with their energy use. The rebuilding relied on a single electric master meter, it was impossible to bill residents individually. David Lipson at Century Management Services cited energy -metering expert Bob Friess to present a more balanced energy solution at the shareowners' 2012 annual meeting.

Friess, president of utility metering company AMPS-ELEMCO, Inc. explained the advantages of NYSERDA’s Advanced Submetering Program (ASP). ASP provides financial incentives for multifamily buildings to add an electric submeter for each unit and common area in addition to the master meter. Tower East residents decided to upgrade to electricity submetering and give residents control over their electricity use, which can reduce building-wide energy consumption by up to 20 percent.

After installing electricity submeters in the building's 131 apartments and taking advantage of $34, 000 in NYSERDA incentives, Tower East residents only pay for the electricity they actually consume. They're changing their behavior, finding even more ways to reduce their bills and their impact on the environment.

Times — and energy costs — had changed.

Built in 1960, Tower East is a co-op apartment building rising 35 floors above East 72nd Street between Lexington and Third Avenue in New York City. Like other buildings of its era, Tower East had a single electric master meter. Shareholders were charged on a per-share basis for electricity, so costs were the Solution same, regardless of each resident's use.

As the price of electricity rose, the building's co-op board decided to take action. They brought in Bob Friess of AMPS­ELEMCO, Inc. to discuss the advantages of electricity submetering and cash incentives available from NYSERDA's Advanced Submetering Program (ASP). The board proposed a full-building conversion. Residents unanimously approved the plan and chose to work with AMPS-ELMCO, Inc. on the project.

Teamwork leads to success

Resident Manager Adrian Sanchez implemented a two-prong strategy to make the conversion process simple and effective. First, he scheduled a pre-install walk-through with each resident to identify meter location and assess carpentry and plastering needs. Second, he worked with Bob Friess to ensure the electrical crew could work quickly, in tandem with Sanchez's finishing team. Communication with residents throughout the project eliminated surprises, and the crews finished the entire building install in only 10 days.

"The process was seamless and transparent. While residents were aware that the installation work took place, there was no evidence that we were even in their units, except for the new meter being there," said Sanchez.

Lower bills, added value

Today, residents are only billed for the electricity they use, and Tower East has increased its long-term property value. ASP equipment incentives saved $34,000 in project costs, and the building's maintenance costs haven't gone up. Residents are still able to purchase electricity at a bulk rate, helping create additional savings.

A new energy consciousness has also resulted. Residents are using the real-time data provided by their meters to make energy-saving decisions; from turning off lights and adjusting room temperatures, to installing programmable thermostats on air conditioners.

Overview

Background & Challenges

  • 131-unit NYC co-op, built in 1960, with one master meter for electricity
  • All residents paid the same amount for electricity monthly, regardless of usage

Solution

  • NYSERDA-approved Intech 21 submeters installed in each apartment
  • Conversion qualified for $34,000 in incentives from NYSERDA, including $250 per meter (up to 50 percent of the cost of the system) and $1,500 per master meter

Benefits

  • NYSERDA ASP incentives reduced project cost by 38 percent
  • Electrical issues that could have posed a risk were found and fixed
  • Up to 20 percent reduction in building energy use and cost
  • Residents only pay for the electricity they use, and have the data to make informed decisions to further reduce energy expenses

Project Financials

Developer/Owner Co-op
Number of Units 131 rental units
Total Investment $89,941
NYSERDA Incentives $34,000
Last Updated: 09/24/2014