Navigating New York Incentives for Multifamily Energy Efficiency Projects

Erica Brabon | August 26, 2013
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Several incentive programs are available for multifamily housing projects in New York State. Understanding your options, selecting the best program for your project, and navigating the process can be a bit confusing if it is unfamiliar territory. However, the reward is worth the effort. Here are three of the most beneficial and most utilized programs available statewide.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Multifamily Performance Program (MPP)

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Multifamily Performance Program offers incentives for market-rate buildings that range from $500 – $700 per unit; and from $800 – $1000 per unit, for affordable housing.

NYSERDA MPP applies to both existing and new construction projects, providing financial incentives to owners for buildings in both the affordable and market-rate sectors and technical assistance through the NYSERDA Partner Network. The goal is to reduce whole building energy use by at least 15%. In general, to qualify for either program, a building must:

  • have more than 5 units.
  • be at least 4 stories (there are exceptions)
  • include at least 50% residential or residential associated space

To participate in the NYSERDA MPP programs, an owner must work with a NYSERDA Partner. SWA has been a NYSERDA Partner since 2007.

Existing Building Component (MPP-EB)

MPP-EB is for existing buildings that utilize firm gas and pay the System Benefits Charge. The program requires a series of analysis and implementation stages. Project teams first work with NYSERDA Partners to benchmark the building’s energy performance to determine the 15% reduction goal. NYSERDA Partners will then conduct a whole building energy audit, develop an energy model, and define Energy Reduction Measures (ERMs) to achieve the savings target. The NYSERDA Partner will also oversee the implementation of the ERMs, assuring proper installation and successful energy savings.

As an alternative, for projects with 5 - 49 units, a fast-track program is available. Incentives for market-rate buildings typically range from $500 - $700 per unit; and from $800 - $1000 per unit, for affordable housing.

New Construction Component (MPP-NC)

MPP-NC is based on EPA’s ENERGY STAR Multifamily High-Rise (MFHR) program with some additional energy efficiency, health, and safety requirements. Projects must demonstrate 15% energy cost savings compared to a code-compliant building. Project teams work with a NYSERDA Partner to define ERMs to be implemented and may use energy modeling to inform design decisions and energy efficiency strategies. As an alternative to energy modeling, both the EPA and NYSERDA have defined Prescriptive compliance pathways that will ensure an energy efficient and healthy building. Incentives for market-rate projects range from $675-$900 per unit; incentives for affordable projects range from $900-$1,200 per unit.

EPA supported a pilot program for ENERGY STAR MFHR through NYSERDA MPP-NC from 2005-2011, during which 12 NY multifamily buildings were awarded the ENERGY STAR label. Of those, nine buildings were facilitated by SWA. Since releasing the program in 2011, another 12 NY projects have received the ENERGY STAR, and seven of those were facilitated by SWA.

Con Edison Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program

Con Edison offers cash incentives to reduce capital investment costs for existing buildings. In addition to the commercial and industrial sectors, this program is also applicable to common-area system improvements for multifamily buildings with over 75 units. Projects must be for customers in buildings that are directly metered by Con Ed and pay the applicable System Benefits Charge. This program offers three major incentive areas:

  • Rebates for equipment upgrades
  • Performance-based custom incentives
  • Energy efficiency technical studies covered at 50% (ASHRAE Level 3 equivalent).

Con Edison Multi-Family Energy Efficiency Program

Con Ed’s traditional multifamily incentive program is applicable to existing developments with 5 – 75 units and includes market-rate, affordable, condos, and co-ops. The customer must be directly metered by Con Ed and pay the applicable System Benefits Charge. This program offers incentives for:

  • Approved equipment upgrades. Some examples include:
    • Heating system upgrades, with automated controls
    • Roof and heating pipe insulation
    • Installation of high-efficiency lighting, sensors, and LED exit signs
    • Premium efficiency motors for pumps and fans
    • Central A/C upgrades
  • Replacing inefficient refrigerators and room A/Cs in individual units with ENERGY STAR qualified models
  • Energy surveys to show potential energy and money savings through the program
  • Free “smart” power strips and CFLs in apartment units

The only caveat to these incentive programs is that they cannot be combined in the same project. Seek advice before a project starts to help determine the best course of action for your project, selecting the program that will yield the greatest cash incentives.

Erica Brabon

Erica is a senior consultant for multifamily housing at Steve Winter Associates, Inc. based in New York City. Her work at SWA focuses on energy benchmarking and auditing in multifamily and commercial buildings, health and safety in buildings, training building operators and maintenance staff in sustainable operations and energy efficiency, training residents, curriculum development, LEED certification and development and implementation of sustainable business practices.

Category: New York City

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