When the cooperative board of directors in a century-old building on the Upper West Side was about to replace the roof, council members weren’t just thinking about preventing leaks. They were thinking about preparing for the future.
More specifically, the seven members of the board of directors of this 48-unit, 12-storey building wanted a roof that could accommodate electric air conditioners, a first step towards cutting the building carbon dioxide emission and comply with the ceilings – and avoid fines – which will be gradually implemented from 2024 and 2030 as part of the Climate mobilization law. Then the council went further and hired an architect to develop allong term plan reduce building-wide emissions, starting with the old oil-fired boiler.
“It was an uphill battle,” said Eileen Koffler, who is stepping down as treasurer but will continue to sit on the board of directors. The board had to convince shareholders that spending the extra money to install a structure to support capacitors above the roof was an attractive expense. The bottom line: âThe early adopters, 18 of us, paid the lion’s share, and the co-op paid a small part,â says Koffler. âNow there is space for each unit in the building. One of the selling points was that it’s much more low consumption as window units or robots. This is the kind of step they want you to take to comply with the climate mobilization law. “
A major logistical challenge was knowing where to run refrigerant lines condensers on the roof of the A-Line apartments, including Koffler’s, which faces the street. As the building is located in a historic district, the Commission for the preservation of monuments prohibits exterior lines and through elements on the facades on the street side. The solution was the fortuitous discovery of an empty well that runs from the first floor to the roof and which could accommodate the refrigerant lines. Two of the âdividedâ units are already operational, with 16 additional paid places – and possibly many more to come afterwards.
Today, this forward-thinking advice looks even further into the future. The board has hired Eugene Architecture develop a full plan on ways to improve building performance. The company sent requests for proposals, and the board is now asking mechanical engineers which will provide a feasibility study on how best to upgrade the heating system. âWe see the building as a holistic entity,â says Marshall sellers, the director of Eugene Architecture. âWe are considering mechanical improvements, performance improvements, facade improvements and we will help coordinate with the mechanical engineering team. “
Koffler emphasizes the importance of hiring the right people. âI think it’s really important to have someone who knows the building and understands what the issues are,â she says. “The people on board – as we saw in Florida – need people who can guide them.”
Koffler, who worked as Project Manager, understands that many budget-conscious co-op and condominium boards are terrified of the cost of the renovations that will be required to reduce the carbon emissions of their buildings. But she thinks the time has come to move beyond the old ways of thinking.
âNot everyone is avant-garde,â she says, âbut the buildings are assets which must be maintained beyond their daily operating costs. Board members tend to only look at their bank accounts – and they don’t think about the air their grandchildren are going to have to breathe in 30 years. This is what we are trying to change. Ultimately, the climate mobilization law is good for everyone.
MAIN PLAYERS – ARCHITECT: EugÃ¨ne Architecture. REAL ESTATE MANAGER: FirstService RÃ©sidentiel. ENGINEER: RAND Engineering and architecture.