On one of the sunnier days of this winter, on March 11th the importance of energy efficiency was recognized. In 2010, Williamsburg Court debuted their new heating system and all around energy conservation strategy. The tenants of this building have been reaping the benefits ever since.
The event was an information session for building, designers, owners, and operators who are looking to implement more energy efficient methods in their buildings. Williamsburg Court received an award in 2011 for their efforts in this area and so was selected as the venue. A Question and Answer session was led by Angie Herrera-Sanchez, Asset/Property Management Director and Norman Williams, Assistant Director of Housing Development at St. Nicks Alliance. In addition there was a tour of the boiler room with Marc Zuluaga, Vice President and Director of Multifamily Energy Services at Steven Winters Associates.
Q: How do you go about educating your residents?
Angie Herrera-Sanchez: Tenants meetings, a lot of literature, you have to communicate with them at all times. Mainly it’s Property Management speaking to the tenants, putting it in black and white: this is what we’re doing and you will benefit from this, and they are. They are controlling their own heat even in their appliances; the appliances themselves are all energy efficient.
We did make rules that anyone who wants to purchase an A/C it has to be energy efficient. We have provided them specials and discounts through local vendors.
Q: Did you increase the rent after all this renovation?
Angie Herrera-Sanchez: We’re affordable housing so we go based on Rent Stabilization. We can only increase the rents according to rent stabilization. We are affordable housing and we plan to stay that way.
Q: How long did construction take?
Norman Williams: It didn’t take more than a year. We started in 2009 and finished in 2010.
Angie Herrera-Sanchez: Normally you meet with the tenants months before when you start the negotiation point because you don’t want to go through the negotiation and make your executive decision and then have to convince the tenants to give you access. So you start that early in the game. Basically it is first meeting with the tenants to let them know you have these plans. It is important to sell the idea to the tenants early in the game.
In the boiler room, Marc Zuluaga explained, “One of the problems with the old boilers was that there were eight of them and one would fire as was needed. With that system one boiler has to heat up the other boilers and you lose efficiency in that way,” and that the current system is controlled, “… by a relatively low cost controller that looks at outdoor temperature and controls the temperature of the water going up into the baseboards depending on outdoor temperature.”