Daniel Weeden Featured: “Too Much Green To Go Green: Complexes Face Crushing Costs”

The Real Deal article features Fidelity Energy & Sustainability’s Daniel Weeden on how off-the-grid buildings say emissions cap will set them back billions.

As large buildings struggle to comply with the city’s emissions cap, a select few face an overwhelming challenge.

Low-equity co-ops and rental properties that generate their own power have discovered it’s going to cost a lot of green to go green.

Consultants hired by the buildings, which total 33,860 apartments, estimate the bill at a staggering $2.6 billion — nearly $77,000 per unit, including financing — for the upgrades to avoid fines under Local Law 97.

The cost was so high that a leading supporter of the emissions cap literally did not believe it.

“Get some second and third and fourth opinions on this,” said Pete Sikora, the climate campaigns director of New York Communities For Change. “I’m sorry, I think these are manageable, realistic objectives over time. These kinds of buildings should be making this leap.”

But Dan Weeden, president of Fidelity Energy & Sustainability, which consults for two of the complexes that have their own co-generation plants, said numerous strategies have been explored. “The scrapping of these systems and the electrification of buildings in the city has tremendous price tags associated with it,” he said.

For instance, replacing gas stoves with electric ones means running 220-volt lines to every unit. “To rewire buildings of this construction type and vintage is no small undertaking,” Weeden said. At $15,000 to $20,000 per apartment over 33,860 units, the low end of the estimate is $507 million.

“Many of these co-ops have sought out … third, fourth and fifth options,” said Weeden, whose clients include Manhattan’s Penn South, with 2,820 units, and the 982-unit Big Six Towers in Queens. ”If Mr. Sikora has a solution that does not have these onerous costs associated with it, we would love to know what they are.”

Complexes with cogeneration also include the Bronx’s Co-op City, with 15,372 units, Brooklyn’s Amalgamated Warbasse Houses with 2,585 units and Spring Creek Towers with 5,881 rentals, and Rochdale Village in Queens with 5,860 co-op units, plus some smaller ones.

The law spares these affordable complexes from fines until 2035, but the penalties pile up quickly from there. Through 2050, Co-op City, Warbasse, Penn South and Big Six would be dinged for $575 million, given the huge amount of oil and gas they use. [continue reading online]