The Magic Fix Does Not Exist
When it comes to building compliance for LL97, everyone is trying to find that magical solution for compliance. We’re going to save you the hassle- there is no ONE magical fix, and here’s why. Take this scenario where Harry, the building owner, is desperate to get out of his upcoming knee-deep LL97 penalties, and Jay, a Solar Guys Rep, is trying to convince Harry that solar is all he needs to comply.
Harry: “Jay, I know my building graded a D on Energy Star Portfolio. How do I fix my building? How do I make my building energy-efficient? I don’t know anything about this stuff, and I can’t afford these penalties for January 2024.”
Jay: “Don’t worry about it! All you need is to put up some solar on your roof and call it a day! I can help you out.”
Harry: “Really? That’s fantastic! I’m glad I found you. How much is it going to cost me? How long does it last?”
Jay: “Hmm… It’ll be approximately $20,000.00 for the entire product and installation, and it should last you a good 25 years.”
Harry: “Cool….Jay? What happens after 25 years? What about the rest of my building? I know there are leaks and cracks on the first 3 floors- how will the solar help??
Jay: “Well… after 25 years, you will have to remove the solar by yourself AND find a place to safely dispose of it. That is, unless you sign up with us again for new panels – and to be honest, we’re not really sure about how these panels get recycled properly. But no worries, I am sure in the next decade, we will come up with better and more efficient solar technology. Regarding the rest of your building; solar won’t help- we can only procure a cleaner and cheaper production of power.”
Although Harry, the building owner, may invest and install solar panels with all the benefits of having cleaner and cheaper power and electricity, he has dismissed all other active failures in his building. This includes his leaky floors allowing heat, cold air, moisture, vapor, and mold to transfer into the building; negatively affecting the overall building health. This means the operational effectiveness of the buildings systems will begin to deteriorate over time.
A building owner today has higher expectations and responsibilities than ever before since the city of NY requires “Covered Buildings” to upgrade and retrofit buildings that are not energy efficient and fall above the allowable emissions quota per SF per use. A building owner is expected to operate on ideas and inventions that even architects, engineers, and energy professionals are still baffled by. The energy grades alone are confusing enough.
Don’t get trapped into thinking that there is just one way to improve a building’s energy and emissions. The simple answer for building compliance is that there is never just one single magical fix- you need to look at the building with the Whole Building Approach to effectively assess each specific building for its specific needs.
Whole Building Approach
Using the Whole Building Approach creates a high-performance building, which is what you want. A high-performance building means all your entire building, including the building envelope and mechanical systems work together in synergy providing an efficient and healthy environment within the building.
In terms of efficiency, think of building and operating a high-performing building as a system of interconnected systems, a system very similar to your body. You need all your systems (organs, cardiac team, nervous systems etc) to work together with the command center (the brain). When all systems work together, your building health is armored against all the exterior and interior malignant intrusions and malfunctions. The health of your building has a greater impact on your daily performance and needs more than you may have originally thought. The average American spends about 90% of their lives indoors. This alone supports the need to rectify and maintain the indoor health of your building.
BUILDING SYSTEMS THAT IMPACT BUILDING PERFORMANCE
- Envelope: Seal and insulate building exterior
- HVAC: Properly sized heating, cooling and ventilation systems
- Water: Strategies to conserve water
- Lighting: Efficient electrical and lighting systems
- IAQ: Healthy indoor air quality
- Materials: Use environmentally friendly materials
- Testing: Test and commission systems to ensure performance
- Sustainable Building Operations: Ensure continuous performance
The Whole Building Approach inspires the idea that all building professionals and experts should be involved early in on the project’s development. Designers & subcontractors alike such as roofing, windows, lighting, HVAC, plumbing, and building envelope retrofit/upgrades should start communicating and collaborating together at the very beginning. This is called the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). With this approach, all trades are aware of each other’s work processes, limitations, and schedules to seamlessly work together throughout the design, planning, and construction phases until the building becomes operational. By working together, the project team shares goals and intent with improved coordination and open communication among professionals and stakeholders of a given project, ultimately reducing the amount of misunderstandings, change orders, and cost accelerations therein.