2017 NYAE Q2 Recap: Smart Buildings & Grid Modernization

-Tanner Kenney, Fellow

On Wednesday June 29th, New York Advanced Energy (NYAE) held its Q2 2017 Stakeholder Breakfast at the offices of Duane Morris where Discussion Leaders and participants examined the topics of smart buildings and the grid modernization of cities. The event brought together a diverse group of Discussion Leaders and stakeholders who tackled challenges posed by dense urban environments to implementing advanced energy solutions, resiliency measures, clean sources of fuel, and beyond.

The breakfast began with welcoming remarks from Advanced Energy Group Founder & CEO, H.G. Chissell, and was followed by Phyllis Kessler, Of Counsel, Duane Morris. Ms. Kessler highlighted the importance of collaboration on advanced energy technologies through events such as the Advanced Energy Group’s Stakeholder Breakfasts in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

Moving forward, Ms. Kessler broke-down both the positives and negatives of New York City’s and New York State’s individual goals regarding greenhouse gas emissions reductions through the lens of power generation, distribution, and consumption. Ms. Kessler concluded by outlining the benefits of distributed energy resources in dense urban areas such as New York City and was followed by Patrick Love, Carbon Challenge Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

Mr. Love began his introduction to the breakfast by detailing the key elements of New York City’s 80x50 GHG goals on the backdrop of the findings of the IPCC. Mr. Love then stressed the importance of energy resiliency in the City as the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability projects a one-to-two foot rise in sea levels, locally, threatening 722 miles of New York City coastlines. The Office also predicts a tripling of days over ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Mr. Love then pointed to the fact that 80% of GHG emissions in NYC come from buildings and, given the pace of current developments throughout the City, 90% of existing buildings are predicted to be standing in 2050.

4 - Stephen Wemple.jpg

As such, Mr. Love stressed the importance of building energy retrofits in order to achieve even a portion of New York City’s sustainability goals. Mr. Love concluded his introduction by citing the advancements made in this area through legislation such as Local Law 87. Mr. Love was followed by fellow Discussion Leader, Stephen Wemple, Director of the Utility of the Future for ConEdison. Mr. Wemple immediately addressed the necessity for reducing peak load on networks throughout the City and pointed to Con Edison’s recently-released Non-Wires Alternatives Request for Proposals.

Mr. Wemple bolstered his emphasis of the need for greater infrastructure resilience by pointing to the success of the ConEd BQDM program as well as the upcoming transition from net-metering to a more locationally, price-sensitive model. Mr. Wemple continued by praising the rapid transition of New York State’s energy landscape through NYSERDA’s leadership. Mr. Wemple closed by outlining ConEd’s solar value-stacking model.

The next Discussion Leader, Paul Rode, Director of Engineering for RXR Realty, began by acknowledging the advancements made in the energy sector at the hands of New York State’s legislative and regulatory bodies and highlighted RXR’s considerable need for clean and resilient energy provision throughout its real estate holdings in New York City. Mr. Rode praised the technologies that now automate countless buildings throughout the City, but cautioned that operators and managers of these systems must continuously educate themselves in order to provide the most effective service and, therefore, efficiency, regardless of building size.

Mr. Rode then stressed the necessity of a positive relationship between owners, landlords, and tenants as the financial incentive of maintaining a working dialogue far outweighs that of minor profits through sub-metering practices. The final Discussion Leader to speak was Philip Skalaski, Vice President of Engineering and Energy Services for The Durst Organization. Mr. Skalaski began his introduction by outlining the energy-related goals of the Durst Organization, both past and present, and outlined some challenges with EUI (energy usage intensity) performance metric benchmarking requirements of the City for a net-zero rating,  as well as the current structure of net-metering and CHP tariffs.  Philip Skalaski and the Durst Organization hosted the NY Advanced Energy Stakeholder Dinner the night before the breakfast in their 48th floor boardroom at 1 Bryant Park

Mr. Skalaski outlined the differences between “green” and “smart” buildings. Mr. Skalaski said, a green building has systems in place that can be operated to achieve a net-zero rating, but must be operated and maintained in a way that allows for maximum efficiency. A truly ‘smart’ building will have a fully automated energy system that communicates as a single entity wherein all components that produce and measure energy share and co-optimize their respective information with all other systems.

NYAE’s Q2 Stakeholder Breakfast concluded with a vibrant Q&A session that saw stakeholders and Discussion Leaders examine the critical gaps and challenges with the current OneNYC roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.  One powerful takeaway was the importance of identifying and prioritizing by consensus the key measures, metrics and milestones NYC's essential energy stakeholder need to focus on as a team.

Discussion Leaders for this event included:

  • Stephen Wemple – Director, Utility of the Future, ConEdison

  • Paul Rode – Director of Engineering, RXR Realty

  • Philip Skalaski – Vice President of Engineering and Energy Services, The Durst Organization

  • Patrick Love – NYC Carbon Challenge Coordinator, NYC Mayor's Office

Advanced Energy Group is a stakeholder member-supported organization committed to developing and delivering advanced energy policies and solutions in key cities.  Stakeholder sessions are by invitation only.  For details of our programming please visit:

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