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.

 

The Transcript For An Interview I Had With IdeaMensch

More than anything, being consistent and even-keeled makes people trust you. No one trusts someone who’s always changing his mind.

Dan Neiditch is the president of River 2 River Realty, Inc., a real estate business that offers diverse real estate services for customers in New York and beyond. Neiditch learned the industry through his real estate family business and has gone on to procure, develop, and revitalize real estate developments on a much larger scale than his family ever thought possible.

Under Dan Neiditch’s stewardship, his family’s business has grown into a multibillion dollar real estate empire — acquiring $1 billion in real estate holdings to date. Today, River 2 River Realty is part of multiple prestigious organizations on both local and national levels. The Real Estate Board of New York, REBNY Listing Service, National Association of Realtors have all welcomed River 2 River Realty as a member. Dan uses these exciting memberships to help customers get access to the latest and greatest properties available in New York. The business’ ties with national organizations also helps sellers expand their outreach across the country.

Because Dan grew up surrounded by a real estate-savvy family, he and his family have amassed a total of 70 years of experience — which Dan Neiditch brings to customers who are overwhelmed or uninformed about the many aspects of the market.

Now, best known as president of the Atelier Condos in Manhattan (which boasts solar panels, the tallest swimming pool and tennis courts, and celebrity tenants), Dan Neiditch is an experienced leader in New York’s dynamic real estate market. Atelier is one of Daniel’s greatest accomplishments as a leader in real estate.

With his vision in mind for the redevelopment of the property located on West 42nd Street in New York City, Neiditch offers Atelier tenants an unbeatable view of the city. It overlooks the Hudson River to the west, and residents can see the iconic Empire State Building and Times Square from their homes.

Though attributed with an impressive business acumen, Dan is also passionate about charity work. Dan uses his experience in River 2 River Realty, Inc. to help those in need. A hands-on philanthropist, Dan Neiditchnot only donates funds to various organizations, he travels to disadvantaged countries abroad, and volunteers as an on-call EMT locally in New York City.

Dan devotes a lot of his philanthropic efforts to funding the basic medical and personal care that every child deserves. He provides financial donations to children who need lifesaving organ transplant surgeries. One of Dan’s most fulfilling experiences was traveling to Africa with an organization that provided doctors for children who needed medical attention. He also contributes to organizations that provide important necessities for the homeless and has personally helped them find employment opportunities.

As a businessman and philanthropist, Dan Neiditch chooses his professional and personal projects with a careful, deliberate, and a thoughtful outlook — thus making him a recognizable figure in the real estate industry within New York and beyond. Neiditch’s articles on real estate, philanthropy, and business have appeared on the likes of Huffington Post .

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I have a lot of meetings in a day — high level and day-to-day level meetings. As someone who likes to be involved with every aspect of my business, I meet with agents, contractors, and building management to get updates on our properties. Do we need to work on our pricing? Are the contractors hitting deadlines? What other investments can we make, get rid of, expand, etc.

I have my head and my hands in everything, so I rarely take notes. I like to be present and listen and see what’s going on, so I try to keep track of everything in my head when I can.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have a group of people who are constantly bringing me ideas. But before I choose to turn an idea into a reality, I crunch numbers. As an investor, entrepreneur, or businessman, you have to learn to love numbers. Without being able to calculate what ideas make sense to build, you’re already starting out in the negative.

I never jump until I know that the cost structure is solid, the tax implications are attractive, etc. — then, I buy, build, or pass.

What trend excites you?

Solar energy excites and inspires me, which is why Atelier has solar panels installed. It’s the highest building in NYC with solar panels, and that’s something I’m really proud of. I’m always looking for new ways to introduce solar power into New York. I think we could do a lot better. As a city with 8 million people, we need to do better. We consume too much energy not to.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

It’s more a discipline that became a habit: consistency. I practice due diligence in everything I do but especially in my business. I wouldn’t be able to lead anything, much less a successful business, if I weren’t consistent.

More than anything, being consistent and even-keeled makes people trust you. No one trusts someone who’s always changing his mind. Nothing tears down trust and confidence from your staff and clients more than that.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Your first decision is usually the right one. Stick to your gut and don’t let other people dissuade you from what you want to do.

Tell us something that is true that no one agrees with you on.

I see a lot of investors who don’t take risks. Before I took over the family real estate business, my grandfather and father played things pretty safe. They bought real estate only in the Bronx where my grandfather grew up, and only complexes with a specific number of units. They were also really against leveraging debt or taking risks.

And they’re not alone. Even today, people are afraid to take risks, but I always have and do. When people are afraid to buy, I buy; a lot of people won’t do that.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Never stop studying or learning — about your market, your industry, whatever it is you do. You can’t make good decisions if you don’t study trends. To paraphrase Warren Buffett, what we’ve learned from history is that we never learn from history. In other words, don’t just study trends forward, study the trends in your industry that came before, and figure out what mistakes people made in the past.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

There are two related strategies that have helped me grow my business: being aggressive and being proactive. I’m always looking for new projects because I like being ahead of the curve; I have to be if I want to build and maintain a successful venture. Once I have my head fixed on something, I go for it. I go all in. I think aggressiveness is a lot like having a positive attitude in that you know for a fact you’re going to do something. When there is no doubt, there is only room to grow.

What is the one failure you had as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?

Mistakes happen, especially when you’re first starting out. My biggest mistake was that I trusted the wrong people in the beginning. I trusted that they were giving me the right numbers or the right advice.

But looking back, I’m glad for that experience, because now, all the final decisions are made by me. Who I choose to trust, even the way I think about trust, has changed. I never assume someone else is doing my homework for me, which is why I always go back and make sure everything is in order.

It’s not that I am constantly suspicious, because that’s no way to live, but I rely on my own intel before I assume someone else’s is better.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

As I mentioned earlier, solar power inspires me and maybe people don’t know that solar is more than just solar panels. The use of solar power in the U.S. is still lacking. There are a lot of applications that aren’t being implemented.

There’s one thing that Europe, specifically Denmark, is doing that hasn’t caught on in the United States yet, and that’s solar water pumping systems. Though it’s usually utilized on farms and other rural areas to water crops, it’d be a great coup for investors, especially ones in the real estate industry.

I recently read a Forbes article that says hotels use 50% more energy than multifamily buildings even though they have little over 50% occupancy most of the time. Imagine how much energy luxury hotels would be saving if they used solar power…

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently had an amazing glass of champagne at Daniel Boulud’s Daniel’srestaurant which I would personally rate as the best restaurant in New York.

When you pay for a service, regardless of its cost, you’re paying for nostalgia or memory. That champagne tasted amazing because I was in my favorite restaurant relaxing with people I wanted to be with. That’s worth way more than $100 in my book.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

River2River uses an internal database that has trackable properties in the market. It gives comps, props, and breaks down everything in simple numbers. It makes it easier for me to keep track of what’s happening in the markets and industry, and helps me make smarter decisions.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recently read “Made to Stick which breaks down why some ideas work and others fail. If I pick up a book, it’s non-fiction, and only because I think it will teach me something. I like the idea of perpetual learning, and I encourage others to think the same way. The minute you think you’ve done all the research or know everything you need to about your business, it’s over.

What is your favorite quote?

Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” — Warren Buffett

If you’ve done your homework, paid your dues, and stuck to your gut, you’re not taking a risk so much as a decision based on experience that you can back up. I can back up my decisions because where I am today is proof I’ve made good choices and taken the right risks.

Five Types of New York City Real Estate You Should Buy Today

This post was originally featured on HuffingtonPost.com

Highly transparent and under-leveraged, the New York real estate market is one of the most stable in the world. If you are looking to make a savvy investment, now is a great time to beat rising property values — which are expected to increase by as much as 20 percent over the next three years — to secure real estate that will generate returns for years to come.

Traditionally, investors looked for opportunities in the affluent suburbs of Long Island and New Jersey, but growth in those areas has become stagnate. But today, we look to Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Hudson County, which are areas that are growing rapidly thanks to new job opportunities, especially in healthcare.

Healthcare jobs are growing by five percent per year — twice as fast as finance, the region’s primary economic and population driver — and account for 84 percent of New York City’s total population growth between 2015 and 2016. The rapid growth has increased New York’s population to a record high of 8,550,405 and shows no signs of slowing.

Here are the five most promising investment opportunities in the New York real estate sector to keep up with growth and changing demographics.

1. Apartment Buildings

As high home prices continue to rise and the city’s population continues to grow, a majority of New York residents are being driven into apartment building rentals located in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Hudson County. Therefore, apartment buildings purchased at the right price today can be a very lucrative investment.

Moreover, high proportions of immigrants — 40 percent in Hudson County and Brooklyn and 50 percent in Queens — create a large spread of incomes that create all kinds of opportunities for purchasing apartment buildings that cater to different income brackets.

2. Single-family Homes to be converted into Multiple Units

Because home prices are high compared to rents, pure single-family rentals are not likely to be lucrative investments, unless you’re looking to invest in a special area or are driven by other special circumstances. However, the high home prices that are driving people into renting can be lucrative if you’re able to purchase and refashion a single-family home into one featuring multiple units.

3. Retail Stores

Recent population increases in Brooklyn, and especially in Queens, have not been matched by the availability of new stores. In addition, the Bronx is underserved by new stores. Because healthcare jobs are growing and generating lower-, middle-, and higher-tier income across the city, retail stores are a reasonably safe investment.

4. Office Buildings

The same healthcare sector growth that is creating a need for new apartment buildings and stores, is also generating the need for new office space. Although millions of square feet of new office space are already under construction in Queens and Brooklyn, there is presently no indication that demand in those boroughs will slow even as the new planned office towers take shape. In fact, the office booms in these boroughs signal a healthy long-term future for New York’s overall economy.

Office space in Manhattan may also be a good investment, as Manhattan is still the center of the New York office world. Although 20 million additional square feet of office space are being constructed in Manhattan and are expected to be available by 2021, the number of new offices is insufficient to meet the demand from a booming economy. Nevertheless, reports have not accounted for additional space that is to be provided by new World Trade Center Towers, and the future absorption rate for new office space is unclear.

5. Mortgages and Construction Loans

Rising home prices will keep equity rising, too, making mortgages a sound investment. Although there is always some risk of default, that risk is just about average right now because rising home prices are in balance with incomes.

Alternatively, but in the same vein, construction loans will also go up with only an average risk of default, making them another prudent investment. Ingo Winzer, contributor to Forbes and president of Local Market Monitor — which has followed real estate dynamics since 1989 in over 300 communities — predicts 45,000 new houses and 70,000 apartments will be constructed in Queens over the next three years. Brooklyn will only see 40,000 new homes constructed, but 110,000 new apartments. The Bronx will likely experience modest new home construction but is expected to grow by 60,000 new apartments.

The idea that New York real estate is out-of-reach for those looking for sound investments may be closer to reach than many would think. The worst thing to do when thinking of buying real estate is to wait — especially in the ever-booming New York City.

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

5 Customer Service Lessons We Can Learn From Ultra-Luxury Real Estate

This post was originally featured on HuffingtonPost.com

The biggest difference between luxury and standard real estate properties is not window treatments or fancy decor ― it’s customer service. When I say ‘customer service’, the first thing a lot of people think of is “Hi, can I help you?”or getting stuck on the phone with a credit card company. Sure, that’s one way of thinking about customer service. But in ultra-luxury real estate, if you want to excel at serving the customer, it means making your client, customer, renter, or buyer feel as though they are the exclusive focus of all your efforts.

This lesson applies to any business. You have to learn to be a little clairvoyant. The best way to do that? Prep like crazy:

1. Google is your first impression.

Before Google, a handshake and ‘Hi, my name is Dan’ was how you made your first impression. Now, your search results are the virtual handshake. So, never underestimate the power of branding and marketing ― especially free branding and marketing. Your website and social media feeds will speak for you, so make sure that they are up-to-date and create a positive impression. Though this may not seem like it should fall under customer service, it absolutely does, because you won’t be getting any customers if you look bad online.

Google goes both ways. If you’re expecting a meeting with a big client or buyer, Google them and find out everything you can about them. We research our clients and takes notes of what they like to eat, drink, and do before they walk through our doors.

The more you know about who your clients are and what they value, the more you can get a feel for what type of real estate will be a perfect match. Additionally, creating a personal connection will enhance their customer service experience and create higher levels of overall satisfaction.

2. Create a niche for yourself.

I’m a huge proponent of sustainability. As one of the few developers in NYC with solar panels on my properties (which is the tallest building in NYC to have solar panels and an outdoor skating rink), I know the value of standing out.

Carving a special place in an industry will help you become more memorable and differentiate your services from the masses, making it more likely that you’ll receive clients through word of mouth, targeted online searches, and good press.

If you’re in a niche, you better know your industry better than anyone else. You should able to speak comparatively and authoritatively about whatever space you want to dominate through great customer service. You need to know what your competitors are doing before you can seek to deliver customer service even better than theirs.

3. Perks Work.

As a long-time New Yorker, I’ve definitely had my fair share of good restaurant experiences ― and horrible ones. What are some things that give me a sense that I’m being taken care of in a restaurant? Complimentary amuse bouche (bite-sized hors d’œuvre). A signature cocktail while I’m waiting for a table. Entrees that come quickly after the appetizers are cleared. Even if a dish ends up being lackluster, what the diner remembers is how the dinner made them feel. Little things like timing, charm, and effort still work, because nothing is a little thing when it comes to customer service.

When I sold the penthouse apartment of the Atelier, I made sure the buyer would have a number of luxurious perks — a $1 million yacht, keys to two Rolls Royces, courtside seats to Nets’ games, and reservations at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant Daniel twice a month for a year. People like to feel like they’re being taken care of, and providing comfort and value through thoughtful perks will often do the trick.

4. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Do you know how James Cameron made all that money from Titanic? People watching the movie over and over again. The movie broke record box office records because of repeat fans. There is a reason this movie from 1997 still holds the third spot of all-time worldwide box office grossing films. If there is one thing we can learn from James Cameron ― and there are many ― it is that you need to be consistent and keep your loyal customers coming back. For our repeat customers, we make sure they have excellent, attentive service, and access to complimentary concert tickets and dinner.

Too many businesses get caught up in marketing themselves to the new customer, and though they are certainly important, you can’t afford to lose the ones you’ve already won over. Getting customers in the door is the easy-ish part, keeping them is the challenge. Do it by being consistent and paying attention to every single detail, again and again and again.

5. Devil’s in the Details.

You may have noticed that the recurring theme of this article is that details are important. Customer service exists in nailing the details. Paying attention to detail takes a bit of a Type A personality, and in my experience, most people who are superior at customer service are Type A. If you need to be a little compulsive to get better at delivering detailed and personalized customer service, so be it.

Excellent customer service isn’t difficult to spot. We all know what it looks like, or rather what it feels like. We also know when it’s done badly. When I receive great customer service, I take note of what that company, restaurant, store, etc. is doing that evokes that taken-care of feeling, then replicate it. There’s no rule that says you can’t take what you’ve learned from other people and do it better. Figuring out what works as a customer helps me the most to develop plans for how to accommodate my customers when the tables are turned.

Solar Energy Has Big Apple Potential But New York Real Estate Entrepreneurs Haven’t Seen the Light

New York developers have been reluctant to embrace solar, despite big cost savings and beautiful new designs. That creates opportunity for the bold.

This post was originally featured on Entrepreneur.com

I love New York. I can walk outside, look up and get a lesson in history just from looking at its buildings. Not only is it the birthplace of the American dream, its skyline is an icon of industry, capitalism and our intention to always go bigger and do better. As a local contributor to that skyline, it’s personal, but this home of mine is slower in keeping up with the sustainability Joneses than a city of 8.4 million people should. Meanwhile, smaller cities in California and Arizona are saving money big time by installing solar panels on large commercial buildings — something that NYC lacks.

Don’t get me wrong, New York State is one of the top 10 “solar states”, but when you break it down per city, per capita, medium-sized cities like Phoenix and Denver are ahead of NYC, and you can’t blame it on sunlight either. Indianapolis, which gets less sun than New York, ranks higher. In larger cities like NYC, the arguments against solar panels are starting to fall short, especially because solar panel installations have become “ridiculously cheap” according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and the price continues to decrease.

With Mayor Bill De Blasio’s ambitious goal for NYC to hit 80 percent renewal by 2050, why is New York still seemingly behind the times?

I have a couple of educated guesses:

The cost factor.

Currently, while there are a slew of federal incentives to promote sustainability, state-level credits vary dramatically. California gives an investment tax credit (ITC) that comprises 30 percent of the total system cost, on top of an existing 30 percent federal tax credit. New York isn’t quite there, but does offer a close 25 percent in tax credits.

Given that New York is a highly developed state with world-class economic, social and political institutions, it is surprising that it lags ever-so-slightly behind California. After all, not only is it easier and cheaper to install solar panels than ever before — it’s untapped money. Our West 42nd Street Atelier property, for example, recouped the installation cost of our solar panels within two years. Clearly, there isn’t just a “green” environmental dimension; there’s also a “green” financial one as well.

To complicate the discussion further, the outcome of the recent presidential election has thrown the future of the solar installation program into jeopardy. According to the analysts at S&P’s Global Plattsdivision, we could see a cut in the solar installation ITC under the Trump Presidency:

“Trump’s possible efforts to end incentives for alternative energy development would boost near-term demand for fossil fuels,” said a report by analysts at S&P Global Platts. “A potential cut in the Investment Tax Credit to 10 percent from the current 30 percent would slash solar installation demand by 60 percent.”

In other words, the cost factor, which wasn’t much of an issue in 2016, may become the decisive factor for developers in 2017. For now, it’s too early to tell, and developers don’t like the unknown.

The aesthetics factor.

The general consensus is that solar panels are ugly right? Wrong. The dynamic and unique thing about New York is that it is always frenetic, always modernizing which has its challenges when working within the infrastructure of established sacred ground. But New York is great at adapting, and beautifying solar is currently in a New York state of mind, especially for me when we were planning the installation of solar panels in our Atelier project.

We made sure the Atelier’s solar panels would add a complementary sleek and modern feel to the structure, adding instead of taking away from the aesthetic value of the original edifice.

Image Credit: The Real Deal

The “eyesores” of yesterday have gotten facelifts and are fast becoming the high-tech structures of now. Travel farther East and you’ll find the antithesis of the “solar is ugly” argument in Spain. Its Gemasolar Plant is extremely efficient and startlingly beautiful.

Image Credit: Wikipedia Germany

States Santiago Arias, technical director of Torresol Energy, the entity that runs the station: “[…] the plant produces 60 percent more energy than a station without storage capacity because it can work 6,400 hours a year compared to 1,200–2,000 hours for other solar power stations.” Continues Arias, “The amount of energy we produce a year is equal to the consumption of 30,000 Spanish households.”

In case you’re wondering, that breaks down to around 30,000 tons of CO2; and did I mention it runs 24/7?

Image Credit: TechCrunch

Then, there’s Tesla. No one combines tech and sustainable like Elon Musk. Musk’s announcement of Tesla’s new solar roof tiles and spare Powerwall 2 battery for homeowners may be the most effective means of taking the perception of solar panels from awkward to “good-looking”. And his beauty has some bite. According to Elon, Tesla’s materials — terracotta clay, slate tiles, and high impact resistant glass — will hold up to more than just sun and rain, or even hail. With this “fashion statement”, Elon Musk reveals his intrinsic understanding of the public: Build it, they will come. Make it beautiful on top of that, and they will flock.

Though this speaks more to the homeowner than the big project developer, I would consider the “solar panels are ugly and inefficient” theory properly debunked.

So why aren’t real estate developers moving in droves to install solar panels on all commercial properties in New York City? Even if Trump cuts the federal ITC for solar, state tax incentives will remain intact — still a very compelling incentive. But even in our ultra-modern city, those attached to the purse strings of these projects can play it a little safe. Best answer may be that it just hasn’t happened yet, and that more and more “safers” will come around.

Until then, I’ll continue to urge real estate developers and investors to do their part; they’ll have to if we plan on getting to 80 percent renewable by 2050 (which I have all the faith in the world we will). We are in plans to continue incorporating solar panels and other sustainable initiatives in our properties. I’m hoping that our success in saving and making revenue because we use solar panels will be the best form of convincing.

How New York Is Making Co-Ops And Condos Eco-Friendly

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In recent years, everyone in New York city has been going green. Many shareholders and boards of co-ops and condos are working hard to incorporate green initiatives into their architecture and their modes of operation. The gold standard for green residential initiative is theLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, which was put in place by the U.S. Green Building council.

The U.S. Green Building council has stated in the past that the residential market benefits from using green building techniques. A number of homes are registered for LEED for Homes certification. In 2013, the USGBC found that more than half of all LEED-certified homes were in the category of affordable housing. As environmental consciousness increases, more and more buildings and associations are developing “green” committees. Let’s look at how these committees affect residences in New York City.

Green Initiatives In Housing

Property managers are taking a greater interest to green initiatives in co-ops and condos. This includes heat reclamation, as well as the installation of solar panels, green roofs, green lighting, and living walls. One of the first projects that these buildings take on tends be the lighting. Lighting is a good idea for a first project because it pays for itself quickly. Another easy initiative to instill is the use of green products for building housekeeping. There are also a lot of efforts regarding the conversion from oil to gas.

 

Committees & Resources

Residents of a building are more likely to go green when the community around them advocates for green issues. People who want to learn about making their building community more green can visit GreenHomeNYC. This company runs a number of initiatives, programs, and green building tours. They also have a program called “HouseCalls” which provides information sessions about incorporating environmental issues on co-op and condo boards.

Getting The Board Involved

For buildings to be truly green throughout, the management and the board need to be fully supportive of green initiatives. That being said, the best idea is to establish a separate committee or subcommittee for green issues outside of the board. There are a few specific people that this committee should include. It is a good idea to have an engineer, an architect, a scientist or a building professional. This will ensure that the proper research is done before a recommendation is brought formally before the board. It is also important to include residents, of course, to ensure the wellbeing of the building community.

More and more buildings are becoming green in New York. If you want to live in a co-o or condo that makes an effort to help the environment, these initiatives are some things to look for. And if you want to get your condo or co-op to take on more green initiatives, these tips are a great way to start.

This article was originally published on DanielNeiditchRealEstate.com