Diamond Properties doubles its solar portfolio with largest rooftop system in NY

By Ryan Deffenbaugh

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Diamond Properties, a commercial real estate and management company based in Mount Kisco, recently doubled its solar energy portfolio by completing three major projects in metropolitan New York and Connecticut, including the largest rooftop solar system in New York.

The installations are part of an effort to reach at least 10 megawatts of solar-generated power from panels across the 44 properties owned by Diamond. CEO Jim Diamond said there are several reasons the company has chosen to focus on solar.

“Environmentally, it makes a ton of sense, finding sustainable power,” he said. “Second is that we end up getting discounted power to our tenants. Third, we are effectively locking in the long-term cost of power.”

The company has completed solar projects on seven of its buildings, generating a total of 7 MW of electricity.

The most recent project is a 2,497-kilowatt system, about 2.5 MW, installed on the roof of an industrial building at 100 Brook Hill Drive in West Nyack, which Diamond said is the largest rooftop array in New York.

Diamond also completed projects at its LaQuinta Inn & Suites property at 116 Newtown Road in Danbury and on a warehouse building at 150 Callendar Road in Watertown, Conn.

In addition to creating the largest solar array in New York, the commercial landlord also constructed the largest rooftop solar array in Westchester County in 2015. That was a 1.9-MW installation on an office building at 333 N. Bedford Road, the site of the former Grand Union warehouse.

Diamond Properties has invested more than $20 million in its solar projects, according to Diamond, and expects to recover those costs over time in energy savings.

Safari Energy LLC, a Manhattan company, handled construction of the three latest solar projects and all of Diamond Properties’ previous installations.

Over their 30-year lifetime, the three new photovoltaic systems are expected to produce enough clean energy to avoid adding 83 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to taking 17,500 passenger vehicles off the road, according to Diamond Properties.

In Connecticut, the solar project at the Watertown site is projected to supply 93 percent of the annual energy needs of Diamond’s tenant, ShelterLogic Corp., a manufacturer of shade, shelter and storage products.

The West Nyack project is projected to generate 71 percent of the power needs of Dianond’s two tenants: Intercos Group, a cosmetics company, and PDI, a manufacturer of professional disposables such as cleansing wipes.

The La Quinta Inn & Suites rooftop installation in Danbury is projected to offset 18 percent of the hotel’s annual energy needs.

Diamond said being able to offer lower-cost, green energy helps draw and retain tenants.

“I think everybody is conscious of sustainability now, so the combination of being able to get sustainable power at a discount, compared to regular utility rates, is compelling,” Diamond said. “There’s really no negative to it.”

Officials in Albany are likely to be pleased as well. The state Public Service Commission earlier this month approved the Clean Energy Standard, a mandate for New York’s utilities to generate 50 percent of the state’s power through renewable sources by 2030. The development of solar will be pushed by a nearly $1 billion NY-Sun initiative from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The goal is to add more than 3 gigawatts of installed solar capacity in New York by 2023.

Connecticut, too, has seen an increasing market for solar installations. The state added 91 MW of solar power in 2015, an increase of 61 percent over 2014, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a solar trade group. Over the next five years, Connecticut is expected to install 1,031 MW of solar electric capacity, more than six times the amount of solar installed over the previous five years, according to the trade group.

Diamond said he will continue to emphasize solar development on any property the company now manages or acquires in the future.

‘We’ve shifted our portfolio to more and more acquiring industrial properties, which tend to have larger roofs,” he said. “For obvious reasons, that’s more conducive to solar than smaller office buildings. So every property we acquire, we’re weighing the economics of adding solar.”

Diamond has two more projects underway: solar panels on top of a parking garage at an office building at 1351 Washington Blvd. in Stamford and a rooftop installation at a warehouse at 181 Marsh Hill Road in Orange, Conn.

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About the author

Ryan Deffenbaugh covers energy, education, food and beverage and the Sound Shore for the Westchester County Business Journal. He previously worked for Westchester Magazine and The Citizen daily newspaper (Auburn, N.Y.). He started with the Westchester County Business Journal in March 2016.

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