Pols work to foster responsible energy use

BY Michael Mandelkern

In the midst of a heat wave elected officials, utility companies and city agencies are doing their part to reduce energy use and foster sustainability.

State Senator Daniel Squadron has sponsored two bills in the legislature to address sustainability by specifically targeting appliances. His Appliances Energy Efficiency bill seeks to increase consumer product efficiency by revising energy regulations and standards for portable light fixtures, residential pool pumps and commercial hot food holding cabinets.

“Having a sustainable future is about using less,” said Squadron.

The bill passed the legislature and is awaiting the Governor David Paterson’s signature. If passed, the law would immediately go into effect and manufacturers would be required to comply although stores would still be allowed to sell appliances manufactured prior to the law taking effect.

“They’ve been targeted because they are energy suckers,” said Squadron, who hopes to cut energy use by 25 percent by 2020.

He is also circulating a TV Energy Efficiency bill, which would apply efficiency standards to television manufacturers in New York.

If passed, television manufacturers would have to reduce electricity expenditure, mainly in plasma television sets. He believes the legislation would alleviate consumer electricity bills and lower the chances of a brownout or blackout on scorching summer days.

Regulations would be implemented by January 1, 2011 and more strict guidelines would be implemented two years later. Any televisions sets made before 2011 would still be acceptable for sale. The standards would apply to all televisions sold in New York.

“Starting with the biggest guzzlers is the right thing to do,” said Squadron, who believes that households have been increasing their time in front of the television.

But Republicans voted the bill down in the Senate three weeks ago based on concerns that it would hurt manufacturing businesses and raise the price of television sets. But according to Squadron, the majority of televisions currently sold in New York already comply with his proposed guidelines.

He called their skepticism “knee jerk opposition,” emphasizing the bill would save households money by driving down household electricity costs in the long term.

Despite firm resistance to his bill Squadron plans on reintroducing it in the Legislature, one step towards what he hopes will lead to a more “conscientious community.”

Another initiative has the support of both the private and public sectors: NYC °CoolRoofs seeks to reduce energy costs and greenhouse emissions in New York City by coating rooftops with white, reflective material that absorbs less heat than typical roofs.

Primarily sponsored by Con Edison with collaboration from NYC Service, the Department of Buildings and the Community Environmental Center, former Vice President Al Gore and Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the pilot program last September.

As of July 20, the project has covered 429,604 square feet. According to Tony Sclafani, a D.O.B. spokesperson, senior D.O.B. staff covered all 22,500 square feet of the roof of its headquarters on 280 Broadway. All 6,000 square feet of the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center on 7th Avenue South and Clarkson Street is covered as well.

With the manpower of volunteers, NYC °CoolRoofs aims to reach 1 million square feet of coated rooftop across New York City by October and reduce greenhouse emissions by 30 percent by 2030. NYC °CoolRoofs reaches out to non-profit organizations and provides resources to building owners who are interested in joining the initiative.

Con Edison encourages building owners to notify NYC °CoolRoofs if they choose to coat roofs on their own.

“We’re continuing to work with property owners across the city,” said Bob McGee, a Con Edison spokesperson.

NYC °CoolRoofs has received more exposure lately with high-profile participants. JetBlue Airways is sponsoring cool roof layout over the Noguchi Museum and a shelter operated by the Department of Homeless Services, both in Queens and four New York Mets players helped cover a YMCA in Brooklyn late last month.

Con Edison is developing other energy saving projects as well, including citywide installation of free thermostats moderated by the electricity company to conserve megawatts output and installing compact fluorescent lights to conserve energy.

“It keeps rates down and also winds up lessening the carbon footprint,” said McGee.

High-rise buildings, such as the Trump SoHo, are amongst the greatest energy consumers. Located on Spring and Varick Streets, the luxury hotel doesn’t use the cool roof technology but contributes to the city’s environmental sustainability movement.

“Trump SoHo is proud of its contract with Green Mountain Energy which ensures that 100% of the hotel condominium’s electrical power comes from a variety of renewable resources including wind and hydro generation. In addition, the reflective glass window facade improves the building’s energy efficiency,” wrote David Chase, the hotel’s general manager, via e-mail.

Con Edison has publicized its environmental initiatives through iPhone applications and online guidelines to conserving energy. “We’re trying to reach people in different says,” said McGee.