In an effort to encourage developers to pay more attention to the carbon footprints of their buildings, both newly proposed and already built, New York state has created the “Buildings of Excellence Competition.”
Awards of up to $1 million each will go to various winning applicants who have demonstrated that their proposals will result in low-carbon or zero-carbon emitting buildings that provide comfortable, healthy and affordable environments for living and working.
The competition, which was announced on March 6 by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, takes place in three rounds, with $10 million due to be awarded in each round. Applications for the first round, which will concentrate on multifamily buildings, are being accepted through June 4 and the awards in that round are expected to be made during the summer.
The program is being administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Even buildings that are already standing could be eligible to receive some money. Projects that will be considered can be in any of four phases: early design, late design, under construction and post-completion performance optimization.
Projects in the “early design phase,” where the design has not yet been firmed up, are eligible for an award of up to $1 million.
If the design has been completed, construction documents are in the process of being created, and a building permit is yet to be issued, the competition classifies the project as being in the “late design phase.” It would be eligible for an award of up to $750,000.
When a building is under construction and a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy has not been issued, the building would be in the “under construction” category and eligible for an award of up to $500,000.
Projects that have been completed can still qualify for an award of up to $250,000 in the “post-completion performance optimization” category. Applicants would need to show how enhancements would make a difference in a building’s energy efficiency and emissions.
Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA, said the competition is “setting the bar for buildings throughout the state and providing the support needed to recognize and advance solutions that will help building owners achieve a low- or net-zero status that delivers environmental and health benefits, reduces energy costs, and provides safe, comfortable spaces for all residents and users.”
Applying for a funding award, however, is not a matter of simply filling out a form. The applications must be data driven and demonstrate precisely what results can be anticipated from the proposed designs. They must show how a project will generate interest in and a demand for the construction of advanced clean-energy buildings. The developer must make a commitment to share information related to the project’s design, costs and performance. The application also must detail the architectural and urban design quality and innovation involved in the project.
Applications will be scored on: the building’s energy performance; strategies to achieve low-carbon emissions per occupant; proposed use of advanced clean energy technologies; ease of construction and cost savings in construction, operation and maintenance and economic viability for the market served; quality of building characteristics and design; and how practical it would be for others to replicate what has been done.
Developers would be required to provide NYSERDA with periodic reports, including copies of documents related to the project, photos of on-site progress, records related to energy use and narratives discussing why development achieved or failed to achieve the predicted energy-efficient performance.
NYSERDA board member Chuck Bell, who also is the programs director for the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, published by Yonkers-based Consumers Union, expressed optimism that the competition will produce tangible results by “incentivizing the deployment of advanced building designs and innovative energy efficiency technologies. Low- and zero-carbon residential buildings can directly enhance living conditions for building residents by improving energy efficiency, comfort and habitability. They can also improve air quality for all New Yorkers by reducing air pollution from fossil fuel combustion,” he said.
A potential side effect of the competition will be to incorporate what’s learned about the use of new energy efficiency techniques and technologies in advanced building design in updating the New York State Energy Conservation and Construction Code.
NYSERDA says the money for the competition will come from the state’s 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund.