A New Yorker’s Guide to Using Solar In Your Business

The energy source no longer is the wave of the future — it’s good for commerce today.

This post was originally featured on Entrepreneur.com

With a constant increase in demand for electric power and surging oil prices, it surprises me that more business owners aren’t excited about solar energy.

Solar power offers reduced operating costs and a higher return on investment than many other energy sources. Plus, it’s largely maintenance-free, super-reliable and good for the environment. What’s not to love? If you’re planning to integrate solar energy in your business this year, make sure you’re prepared to make the switch.

Financing options.

Putting up a solar project is a long-term investment — a truth I learned during my Atelier experience. I also honestly can say it’s been 100 percent worth it. The initial expense can be relatively high, which is why leasing would have been more favorable in the past. Setup costs have gone down significantly in the past few years, however, making solar far more affordable to the average homeowner or small-business owner.

Single-family homes account for most of New York City’s solar projects. It costs $20,000 to $50,000 to install a residential system, but a combination of city and state public programs can pick up as much as half the bill. Then there’s this: Solar-powered homes reportedly have cut monthly bills by up to 85 percent, compared to previous monthly bills. If that’s not reason enough to front the startup costs, estimates reveal solar energy’s ROI beats the stock market in more 25 states, including New York.

Installation timeline.

Ideally, the entire process shouldn’t take more than eight weeks from start to finish. However, many factors at play could delay the timeline.

A few years ago, the permit-approval process alone could take up to two years. Today, there’s better coordination among government, installers, owners and utilities. New York City’s Department of Buildings now can issue permits in a matter of a few days. It’s a welcome change from the weeks (at best) that earlier applicants waited for a decision.

Signing the paperwork officially gives your installation team the go-ahead. It’s an easy step that should take 24 hours at most — if you have the capital in hand. If you need to secure an improvement loan from a bank or other lender, you’ll wait longer.

Next, your team’s engineers gather site-specific data and create a design for your system upgrade. By now, you’re firmly into week three. Simple designs might take just a week, but owners would be wise to budget roughly three weeks for complex or large solar arrays.

Once you approve the design, you’ll need to submit a permit and wait for the Department of Buildings to greenlight your application. Things move quickly after you get the thumbs-up: You’re now clear to schedule the installation and then await inspection from the utilities department — typically a week or two after installation. The utility company changes the meter, and you’re good to go.

NYC’s permitting process.

Before you install solar panels, you’ll have to go through the City of New York’s permitting process, which begins when you file a permit. You can file this request under a New Building or Alteration permit. You also have the option to file separately as an Alteration Type-2 at borough offices or The HUB itself. The Department of Buildings will inspect the premises and use that information to help make a determination about your application’s future.

Local and state incentives.

Through NY-Sun, the State of New York offers a range of incentives to build a more affordable and sustainable solar industry in New York City. The program offers loan financing for residential, small-commercial and commercial projects. The terms vary depending on the type of borrower. Residential and small-commercial customers can finance up to $25,000 with a repayment period as long as 15 years. Commercial borrowers may finance up to 100 percent of any-sized solar projects and secure an interest rate in the range of 4 percent to 6.5 percent. As an added motivation to participate, NY-Sun also extends reduced installation costs to borrowers across all three categories.

Net-energy metering.

Net energy is the difference between the energy produced and the energy consumed. Many households use less than solar panels produce. Excess energy is pushed back into the grid. The net-metering structure credits the owner for this power returned to the overall system. As an owner, you can use the offset to cover future bills, though you’ll still need to pay the monthly connection charge for the service of using the utility’s grid.

There’s no denying the decision to switch to a solar system can be tough. Even with government support, the one-time setup fee might be too steep for some. But solar undoubtedly is taking over. New York City experienced a surge in installations during 2016. That’s on top of the substantial increase over the preceding years, when residential and commercial installationsdoubled between 2014 and 2016.

The earlier you get on board with solar, the greater benefits you’ll enjoy over the long term.

 

New York City Affecting Global Warming

The recent global warming and climate change that we are currently experiencing are largely a result of greenhouse gases that humans have emitted, and are continuing to emit at an alarming pace, into the atmosphere. Cities play a huge part in these emissions. With their consistently increasing population, number of cars of the road and buildings going up, cities are a large sources of greenhouse gasses. New York City is the most populous city in the United States and the 21st largest city in the world. The city is constantly growing in terms of population, infrastructure, cars and, as a result, greenhouse emissions. While the Atelier is working towards playing its part in reducing these emissions, other buildings aren’t necessarily doing so. Let’s take a look at how cities, specifically New York City, contributes to global warming and climate change.

Greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming. Humans emit them in a variety of ways. Most of these emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production, which there are many of in New York City. While greenhouse gasses also come from other sources such as agriculture and deforestation, according to reputable sources such as the United Nations, cities contribute seventy percent of the greenhouse gas emitted around the world.

As the population of New York City rises we see an increase in the amount of infrastructure needed to support these new people and the a rise in the amount of transportation that will be required to get them around, whether that be cars or public transportation. We need more buildings to house people, new supermarkets, office buildings, shopping centers, train stations, etc. Just the process of building these new buildings emits a significant amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Then there’s the emissions that they will continue to produce while they are being used. Heating and cooling, lighting and appliances are all factors that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, buildings account for forty percent of total energy use, sixty-eight percent of total electricity consumption, and thirty-eight percent of the carbon dioxide emission just in the United States. While we are seeing an increase of buildings being LEED certified and taking the environment in mind, not everyone is being environmentally conscious when building in New York City. If we use energy efficient technologies we have the potential of reducing energy consumption by up to sixty percent. Even implementing a small change in how our cities are being built up and run can make a difference.

Stay tuned! This blog post is part two of three. The first post introduced us to global warming and climate change, looking at the causes of the problem and the effects of it. The next and final post in this series will explore how we can slow down and even stop global warming, using the Atelier in New York City as an example.

This article was originally published on DanielNeiditchRealEstate.com

4 Easy Ways to Live Green in NYC

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Finding an apartment in New York City can be a difficult task; in fact, at one point last year, there were literally no vacancies in Manhattan.  In response, new apartments are being built as we speak, yet they are filled just as quickly, due to the already large population and an influx of newcomers to the city. This is all great, of course; we welcome aspiring New Yorkers with open arms. Yet for those with an interest in living a life of sustainability and energy efficiency, finding an apartment to suit those needs may not always be possible.

However, there are some things you can do on your own, to ensure that you’re doing your part to protect and heal our environment, and our beloved city.

  1. Lighting: In the city that never sleeps, lighting is important. You don’t have to sit in the dark, but making simple changes like turning off the lights in rooms you’re not using, and purchasing energy efficient light bulbs, are a great first step in being more eco-friendly. Bulbs like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)use much less energy than the standard halogen bulb, to do the same job. As a bonus, they lower the cost of your energy bill, and allow you to save more money over time.
  2. Shopping: Another relatively easy thing you can do is invest in reusable bags. When it’s time for grocery shopping or running errands, take your bags along. Doing so decreases the need for disposable plastic bags, which are one of the most common pollutants worldwide. They are such a problem in NYC that lawmakers have introduced legislation to begin charging consumers a 5 cents fee, to discourage their use.
  3. Laundry: When washing clothes, use cold water–even for whites, as hot water requires more energy. Afterward, consider skipping out on the dryer. You’ll find that many New Yorkers still air dry their clothes, and some buildings have clothing lines attached outside. If your building doesn’t simply hang them in the house using a drying rack, which you can easily find online.
  4. Thermostat: In terms of keeping your house cool, purchase blackout curtains or blinds to keep out sunlight. Use an oscillating fan to get a good flow of air throughout your space. If a fan doesn’t cut it for you, look for an AC with an energy star rating, and make the thermostat warmer when you’re not home.

This article was originally published on DanielNeiditchRealEstate.com