Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cogeneration Power Plant And Cutting Edge Energy Savings Improvements Coming To Roosevelt Island's Roosevelt Landings - The Largest Multifamily Energy Retrofit In NYC Says Owner Urban American

Roosevelt Island is an exciting place for new innovative green energy projects. There is the Verdant Power's East River tidal water turbine,

Octagon building Fuel Cell,

planned Geothermal Wells for Cornell NYC Tech net zero energy campus,

future Con Ed high pressure gas service and proposed District Energy solutions.

Added to this list of Roosevelt Island green energy projects are the measures currently being undertaken at the Roosevelt Landings/Eastwood buildings (over 1 thousand apartments)

 Image of Roosevelt Landings formerly Eastwood

by owner Urban American to install comprehensive energy saving systems and a cogeneraton power plant.

Urban American's Josh Eisenberg explained these efforts last month during a Roosevelt Island real estate discussion on the Michael Stoler Report. Here's what Mr. Eisenberg had to say.

I recently spoke with Mr. Eisenberg and David Davenport of Urban Greenfit, partners on the Roosevelt Landings energy retrofit project, about conservation and efficiency improvements being made to individual apartments, common areas and building exteriors as well as the replacement of old boilers with a cogeneration plant and high efficiency boilers. We took a tour of the building including mechanical room as the old boilers were in the process of being removed.

Below is an Urban American newsletter delivered to residents last week describing in great detail the Roosevelt Landings energy retrofit currently being undertaken.
In June 2011, Urban American substantially completed over $7 million in energy‐efficiency retrofits at Roosevelt Landings through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Multifamily Performance Program (MPP). This work involved a “conventional energy retrofit” focused on certain system upgrades, including:
  • Installation of submeters in resident apartments
  • Upgrades of common area lighting 
  • Replacement of external lighting
  • Replacement of windows
  • Installation of occupancy sensors
  • Replacement of older refrigerators
  • Installation of timers on bathroom exhaust fans
  • Air sealing of air conditioner sleeves
  • CFL lighting distribution
  • Installation of low‐flow shower heads/aerators
With the exception of refrigerator replacements (which are still underway), all of these projects have been completed.

During this upgrade process, engineers working with Urban American determined that there were still significant opportunities to achieve even greater energy savings through a “deep energy retrofit” at the property, including a combination of sustainable‐energy and energy‐efficiency measures. Deep energy retrofits achieve much greater energy savings than conventional retrofits by taking a whole‐building approach, addressing many systems at once.

The deep energy retrofit now underway at Roosevelt Landings includes $7 million in new investments and is currently the largest energy retrofit of a multifamily building in New York City. The project involves two scopes of work:
  • Energy‐Efficiency Measures: A combination of advanced energy‐efficiency retrofits composed of: a) air sealing of common spaces and resident apartments, b) smart grid controlled programmable thermostats and window sensors in all resident apartments, and c) foam insulation applied to exterior exposed concrete slabs under resident apartments.
  • Sustainable‐Energy Measures: A cogeneration plant paired with new high‐efficiency boilers that will provide electricity, thermal heat, and domestic hot water (DHW) to the building.
To manage these projects, Urban American has partnered with Urban Greenfit, LLC (UGF), a new company dedicated to developing energy‐efficiency projects. The current project began in January 2013 and will be completed later this summer.

The following summarizes the work underway at Roosevelt Landings, explains how the work will impact the building and resident quality of life, and prepares residents for the upgrades and improvements that require access to resident apartments.

UGF has engaged two companies, H20 Degree and Air Barrier Solutions, to visit resident apartments to perform the necessary upgrades.

Electric Heat Control: The first group of contractors from H20 Degree will be entering resident apartments to do two things: replace older baseboard heaters with new heaters and install programmable thermostats to control the heaters.

Heater Replacement: Older model 2‐6 foot baseboard heaters will be replaced with new heaters of the same size. Older model 6‐12 foot baseboard heaters will be replaced with new 6‐foot baseboard heaters. In most cases, the decrease in size is due largely to the elimination of a utility plug or button controls on the heater. Irrespective of the size, the new heaters will provide better performance in every apartment due to faster heating coil materials and newer technology.

Installation of Programmable Thermostats: Dials and buttons on the old baseboard heaters are being replaced with wall‐mounted programmable thermostats. The new thermostats will send a wireless signal to a paired “controller” on each baseboard heater. Residents will be able to select a target temperature, and the thermostat will power the heater until the room reaches that desired comfort level.

The number of thermostats installed in each apartment is determined by the number of rooms in the apartments:

Benefits of the new thermostats:
  • Residents can set the temperature on thermostat without touching heater 
  • Allow residents to see and set the temperature in zone of their apartment 
  • Displays ambient (room temperature) and set point (desired temperature) 
  • Allows time of day and day of week programming from the thermostat
  • Allows 2 way communication between the thermostat and central energy control system in building
  • Room temperature, set points, and heater operation data will be collected and stored wirelessly to monitor and improve overall system performance
  • Allows building management to monitor and adjust set points per tenant request, identify apartments with broken heaters, and characterize usage patterns
Apartment Air Sealing: A second group of contractors from Air Barrier Solutions will tighten the “building envelope” by airsealing resident apartments to eliminate cold air infiltration and drafts during the heating season. Air Barrier Solutions will perform six scopes of work in each apartment:
  • Plug holes behind heaters and along exterior walls that allow drafts in the building 
  • Caulk windows where leaks are evident 
  • Install draft blocking gaskets in exterior wall electrical outlets 
  • Caulk beneath the sill of the outside windows
  • Seal holes around pipes under sinks that allow drafts (and pests) in apartments
  • Clean and retrofit the ventilation register covers and orifices in resident kitchens and bathrooms; the metal interiors of the ventilation ducts will be brushed and wiped clean, and a new orifice plate will be installed to regulate and distribute ventilation airflow more evenly among apartments

Common Area Airsealing: In addition to the work done in resident apartments, Air Barrier Solutions is airsealing common areas, including elevator machine rooms, stairwells, and AVAC rooms. Locks will be installed on hallway corridor windows for use during the heating season. The windows will remain open during the rest of the year. Thru‐wall corridor air supply fans with filters will be installed in each corridor and operate when the windows are locked to maintain NYC Building Code and ASHRAE code guidelines. These measures will eliminate the “wind tunnel effect” that some residents have experienced when walking the halls during the cold months and keep cold air out of the hallways and from entering resident apartments.

Floor Slab Insulation: Apartments that protrude over Main Street and breezeways will have high‐density spray foam installed directly below concrete floor slabs and at wall penetrations. This will eliminate the key source of cold floors in these apartments and block cold air from leaking into the building.

New Boilers and Onsite Power Generation: Two other major improvements to building 540 are underway: the installation of new boilers and sustainable‐energy technologies.
  • Boiler Upgrade: UGF is currently replacing Roosevelt Landings’ 4 original and outdated boilers that are now operating at 65% efficiency with 5 new 95% efficient boilers.
  • Sustainable Energy: UGF will install 3 x 100 kW combined heat and power (CHP) modules that together have the capacity to generate 300 kW of electricity and 2.1 million BTUs/hr of DHW. Generally speaking, the CHP system will create 15% of building electricity onsite as well as preheat the boilers by 40%
What Residents Should Expect:

The retrofits in resident apartments started in building 510 and will progress to building 580 working one or two floors at a time. Residents will be notified in advance and be required to make their apartments accessible on the mornings or afternoons when the workers are scheduled to be on your floor. The entire job (including heater replacement, thermostat installation, and air sealing) will take between 90 minutes to 3 hours depending on apartment size. Although we started doing partial installs in the first buildings, the crews are now completing all of their work when they visit an apartment.

Notification will go out a week before the workers come to your floor, and building staff will knock on resident doors and leave a reminder the night before the workers come. We ask that you move any furniture away from your exterior walls and remove all items from under your sinks. If you need assistance, building staff will be available to help you move items to and from the work area the day the work is done. When the work is complete, building staff will be available to sheetrock, patch, and repair areas near the heaters, if necessary.

Once work has been completed in your building, training sessions will be provided to explain how the thermostats work. And when work has been completed in all buildings, resident education seminars on energy efficiency will be provided to help educate residents on how to be more energy efficient within their apartments.

Thus far, the work has been conducted professionally and generally on schedule. In light of the size and scale of these projects, however, we ask for your patience on a few minor issues that have arisen.
  • We ask for your patience with respect to scheduling. Some apartments simply require more work than others or have a lot of furniture to be moved. This sometimes causes unpredictable delays and gaps between the work crews.
  • We ask your patience with the new thermostats. In order for the thermostats to work properly, they must be installed, programmed, and connected to a computer network to be fully operational. In some cases there have been lags of up to 2 days between the time the thermostats have been installed and the time they begin controlling the heaters.
  • When new baseboard heaters are first used, they sometimes burn off sediment or other materials causing smoke and/or an electrical smell. This may be annoying, but it is normal.
We appreciate your cooperation and patience as we proceed with the work in the months ahead, and we apologize for any inconvenience caused by the work. Our goal is to improve resident comfort and make the building more energy efficient.


As noted above, submetering is an important part of these projects.

At present, the New York State Public Service Commission’s (PSC) “Order Reinstating Submetering Approval at North Town Roosevelt with Conditions” (the NTR Submetering Order) allows for the submetering of all of the electricity utilized by the resident(s) in each apartment. This includes both plug load electricity (i.e., refrigerator, television[s], computer[s], lights, etc.) and heat load electricity (i.e., what is used for the electric resistance baseboard heaters).

As you may recall, during the comment period before the NTR Submetering Order was issued, some residents raised the issue of paying for electricity used for the baseboard heaters. In response, Urban American tasked its technical consultants with determining whether plug load electricity could be disaggregated from heat load electricity. In other words, upon implementing submetering at Roosevelt Landings, residents would only pay for plug load electricity, not heat load electricity. Ultimately, Urban American’s consultants were successful in developing a solution by which plug load electricity could be separated from the electricity used for the baseboard heaters, thereby ensuring that residents would only be billed for their plug load electricity usage.

In implementing submetering at Roosevelt Landings as part of the above projects, Urban American intends to proceed with this new solution of separating plug load electricity from heat load electricity. Prior to doing so, since this approach differs from what the PSC previously approved, Urban American recently filed a petition for clarification of the NTR Submetering Order with the PSC (see{85FED753‐D1C4‐44C1‐ A16F‐62FA8BBA514D}).

In this petition for clarification, Urban American recommitted to the following conditions at Roosevelt Landings:
  • Complete all NYSERDA Energy Reduction Plan Measures
  • Provide Energy Conservation Education For Residents
  • Provide Energy Star Rated Models to All Residents with Refrigerators Manufactured Before 2001
  • Provide Utility Allowances for All Residents
  • Installing at Least One Programmable Thermostat in the Primary Living Area of Each Apartment
Further, Urban American will provide residents notice of when submetering will begin no less than two months prior to the commencement of submetering. During this notice period, and for longer if practically possible, Urban American will provide residents with “shadow bills,” which measure the electricity use for each apartment and calculate a bill reflecting such usage. These shadow bills will be provided for informational purposes to the residents, but actual submetering will not be occurring and the residents will have no responsibility to pay the amount shown on these shadow bills.

The combination of this revised submetering plan and the above investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy at Roosevelt Landings will result in clear benefits to residents, including: a) not being billed under submetering for electric heat usage, b) receiving air‐sealed apartments, providing greater comfort while requiring less heat, and c) receiving at least one networked programmable thermostat to maintain optimal levels of zoned comfort.

On May 1, 2013, the PSC published notice of Urban American’s petition for clarification in the State Register. This starts a 45‐day public comment period that ends on June 14, 2013. Comments on the petition may be submitted Jeffrey C. Cohen, Acting Secretary, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223‐1350, (518) 408‐1978, email: Please reference Case Number 08‐E‐0838 in any comments.

Thank you for your attention as we work to complete these energy‐efficiency and sustainable‐energy projects at Roosevelt Landings. If you have any questions about this update, please contact us at:
The inefficient electricity infrastructure and submetering proposal at Roosevelt Landings has been a long time contentious issue between Urban American, building residents and local elected officials. Here's more background on the issue from previous posts.

Also, reported previously on NYC Power Consumtion.

According to Modi Research Group:
The map represents the total annual building energy consumption at the block level (zoom levels 11-15) and at the taxlot level (zoom levels 16-18) for New York City, and is expressed in kilowatt hours (k Wh) per square meter of land area. The data comes from a mathematical model based on statistics, not private information from utilities, to estimate the annual energy consumption values of buildings throughout the five boroughs. To see the break down of the type of energy being used, for which purpose and in what quantity, hover over or click on a block or taxlot.
Click here for the interactive map and Roosevelt Island power consumptions statistics.


Bill Blass said...

Most new people moved into Roosevelt landings because of free electricity now it will be harder to rent these apartmEnts at the rent they are asking.. Sure they are giving 3 months free rent and a one year metro card.but when that ends people will move out
At these rents

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Mark Lyon said...

The solution that Quadlogic came up with for exempting the heating power from the metering is rather elegant, from a technical standpoint. Because the power is measured with a CT, they're looping the wiring for the heaters through the CT the wrong way, which would cancel out the readings from the incoming power feeds for any power going to those circuits.

I assume that the meters are installed in each apartment and can be monitored by residents. If so, this sounds like a not unreasonable solution to the excessive costs of electric heat. Since the usage for the units won't appear in the readings, residents will only pay for the other electricity they use. Assuming the co-generation plants being some lowered pricing (or at least price stability), things could work out reasonably well for residents.{85FED753-D1C4-44C1-A16F-62FA8BBA514D}

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Frank Farance said...

I'd really question their approach from an electronics perspective. If this were DC it could possibly make sense, but AC has phasing relationships that don't necessarily cancel out, such as phase shift/lag. Let's say only the heater is on, then (theoretically, and there are caveats) the current use would be proportional to:

i = sin(x) - sin(x);

which is zero. Transforming the above into an additive operation, its equivalent is:

i = sin(x) + sin(x+pi);

which is still zero because the 180-degree change (adding pi) negates its value.

But if there is phase shift due to the equipment, wiring, or installation, then the current is proportional to:

i = sin(x) + sin(x+pi+p); // p is the phase shift

So if there is no inductive or capacitive load in the equipment, wiring, or installation (virtually impossible), then there won't be any phase shift. But if there is, then the current won't be cancelled out (see "" for the formula) and the resident will be paying for electricity that he/she shouldn't be paying for.

But heating coils are nice inductors, and cabling adds capacitance, so it would be important to know that the installation technique is *certified as accurate* from a billing perspective, and *certified as an installation technique for these specific current transducers*, from an electric code perspective.

Lastly, if the biggest electrical usage is heating (typically so), then "looping it back" (1) brings no electric savings on the main appliance that is using it, (2) the tenant and management will not be able to monitor usage on heating because it is zeroed out, and (3) there is no incentive to reduce electric use (which the managing agent pays and the tenant does not submeter).

Yes, a clever idea, but not one that works great. Let's get some more info on using these current transducers in this kind of way (two wires with reversed current).

Lola said...

Power went out at octagon and it looks like manhattan park around 5am-no one seems to know why? This happens frequently at the craptagon

YetAnotherRIer said...

Power went out at around 5:30am at MP and I know Westview has been without power this morning as well. Con Ed is working on it.

Bill Blass said...


CheshireKitty said...

Island House reserve fund, unlike the massive funding available to RL's owner, won't permit similar upgrades; thus, when sub metering is implemented at IH, look for tenants/owners to get royally screwed.

AshleyMcCormick said...

CheshireKitty and Mark Lyon Is the installation of thermal sensors mandatory? What is the position of the City? I wasn't able to find any provisions re. sensors, which makes me believe it's the landlord's choice, in complete disregard of tenants' wish to keep a sightly apartment - like the one they've signed up for years ago. The sensors are an abomination: ugly, clumsily installed. While there are better-looking, wireless sensors available on the marked, Eastwood tenants are being treated, once again, with disrespect and forced to accept the defacing of their apartments with the lowest quality devices.

The new heaters are junk as well: most of them crack loudly and give out the maddening sound of a power line.

Also, how will Eastwood residents know how much, exactly, a kW costs and if that rate has been shopped around? Just being slapped with an arbitrary bill without a breakdown would bring further injury to an already injured lot.

Any thoughts on these three issues?