Related Companies took a proactive approach to improving the two-pipe steam heating system at French Apartments, their 174-unit affordable rental property in Midtown Manhattan. Related used the property's scheduled refinancing as an opportunity to invest in holistic, best-practice steam system measures that significantly improved energy efficiency, enhanced tenant comfort, and reduced utility and maintenance costs by more than $69,000 a year.
Project type: Two-pipe Steam Heating System Upgrade
Location: Manhattan, NY
Year of project completion: 2014
Base building completed: 1929
Project size: 148,000 sf/174 units
Buidling type: Multifamily, affordable
French Apartments' steam heating distribution system dated back to the building's 1981 residential conversion. The two aging boilers were due to be replaced, and other system components were in need of significant tuning and maintenance.
In 2011, French Apartments completed a voluntary energy audit, under NYSERDA's FlexTech Benchmarking program. The audit, followed by a more in-depth analysis of the building's steam distribution system, revealed opportunities for reducing energy consumption through efficiency improvements, including steam system upgrades.
When French Apartments' scheduled refinancing coincided with the end of the boilers' useful lives, Related Companies seized the opportunity to invest in substantial steam heating system upgrades to improve building performance and boost tenant comfort.
The comprehensive scope of steam heating system work included boiler room, common area, and in-unit measures, and required coordination between building staff, tenants, and six teams of contractors. Work began in the summer of 2013 and continued through fall 2014.
• Balanced flow of steam with more consistent and even heating to all apartment units.
• More responsive heating system, with increased tenant control over in-unit temperatures.
• More efficient boiler and burner operation, with energy and fuel cost savings.
• Higher quality steam, with quieter pipes and radiators and improved equipment longevity.
• Reduced building heat loss and costly energy waste.
• Increased tenant comfort and satisfaction.
With six different teams of contractors – and five of them requiring apartment access – scheduling presented one of the biggest project challenges. In order to streamline the process and minimize disturbance to residents, SWA scheduled specific days for work to be completed on each floor, and had contracting teams rotate through apartments on those days.
To get resident consent for in-unit work, French Apartments' staff worked with SWA to develop educational materials in four languages – English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese – to inform residents about why and when work would be completed in their apartments. They also held community meetings with translators present, to answer tenant questions and explain the benefits of the steam system upgrades. While tenants were initially a bit skeptical, the outreach efforts were highly successful in gaining their cooperation.
Welcome to the Building Energy Exchange! Located in downtown Manhattan, we’re a resource center dedicated to advancing efficient energy and lighting design in buildings. Explore this site for helpful case studies and reports, check out our calendar for a wide range of activities and events, and follow our lively blog, Insight. Our site is growing all the time—drop us an email to contribute or comment!