Brooklyn High-Rise May Save $700k with Parking Garage Lighting Upgrade

It took 15 years for developer Joshua Muss to turn a small city-owned park on top of an underground parking garage into the high-rise complex that is aptly named Brooklyn Renaissance Plaza. Muss’s vision was widely hailed as key to revitalizing the heart of Downtown Brooklyn but it was a long struggle to bring the project to fruition. “When I had a tenant I didn’t have the financing, and when I had the financing I didn’t have a tenant,” Muss explained to the New York Times sixteen years ago.

Brooklyn Renaissance PlazaMuss’s decades of experience helped to navigate the challenges of the process: zoning permits, site and community approval, financing and leasing for the $230-million-dollar project, which opened in the summer of 1998.

The 1.2 million-square-foot, 32-story mixed-use complex occupies about a third of a long block bounded by Jay and Adams and Willoughby and Johnson Streets in downtown Brooklyn, close to the Kings County courthouses and a short walk from the world-famous Brooklyn Heights Promenade overlooking the New York City harbor and skyline.

The 7 story NY Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, at the base of the tower, was the first hotel built in Brooklyn in over 50 years. Two years after it opened, plans were underway for an expansion: a 24-story tower connected to the hotel by a pedestrian bridge on the second floor. That was completed in 2006, increasing the number of hotel rooms from 387 to 667.

The Plaza’s close proximity to local courthouses was a key attraction for the Executive Offices of the Kings County District Attorneys, which has occupied 14 floors – a majority of the Class A office space – since it opened. Other long-term tenants include Health Plus, the Federal Government, NYC Department of Education, NYC Employees Retirement System and Met Life.

Like many similar facilities built in the nineties, the garage at the Brooklyn Renaissance Plaza used inefficient 175 watt metal halide fixtures to light their 888 parking spaces. The 375 fixtures consumed the vast majority of electricity for the 24/7 parking garage and also produced a poor quality yellowish brown light. With an electricity rate of $.20/kWh, the annual lighting cost was nearly $115,000, or $306 per fixture.

Lighting consultant Jim Nork approached Muss Development and their garage operator Central Parking last year with a solution to replace the 175 watt metal halide fixtures with the latest high-efficiency 44 watt fixtures. Always looking for ways to improve their property and bottom line, executives at Muss Development were impressed by the potential energy savings and went ahead with the upgrade.

The new fixtures save 131 watts each, produce a 75% energy savings and deliver 4,400 directional lumens, at 5000K, which greatly improves quality of the light in the garage, according to the manufacturer, Independence LED.

By reducing the fixture wattage from 175 to 44, the savings is an annual $230 per fixture. With 375 fixtures, the annual savings is $86,250. Over the 60,000 hour 7 year life of the LEDs at 24/7, the lifetime energy savings is $603,750. With historical 3% average annual increase in energy cost and reduced bulb replacement and maintenance labor, the savings is closer to $700,000. This project also earned a major $68,000 NYSE RDA energy rebate, bringing the payback to under a year and a half and the ROI to over 70%.

“Being green not only has a positive impact on the environment but saves money,” said Jeff Kay, Chief Operating Officer of Muss Development. “The LED lighting upgrade is expected to pay back returns in the next 18 months, and we are seeking to employ this strategy throughout our entire portfolio.”

Image courtesy of Muss Development