Countdown to BE NYC!
One of the professionals participating in the conference is Erica Brabon.
Erica Brabon is a Senior Multifamily consultant at Steven Winter Associates. She is a frequent speaker at NESEA’s Building Energy conference and GreenHomeNYC events. Erica will serve as co-chair of the Multifamily Buildings track for the upcoming BuildingEnergy NYC conference. She will also be speaking at the workshop, “What Local Law 84 & 87 Mean and How to Get the Most Out of it”, at BE NYC.
What sparked your interest in sustainable building?
Environmental activism is something I’ve been involved in since middle school. When I realized what an impact I could make working to make buildings more efficient in their use of energy and water, but also providing healthier living environments, I jumped at the opportunity.
Please reflect upon your experiences in speaking at GreenHomeNYC forums and Building Energy conferences? What are your thoughts on the programs?
NESEA BE is my favorite conference because I not only learn from the pros but have a chance to meet them and talk shop in a unique environment. I’m a lifetime member and look forward to any NESEA events as well as GreenHomeNYC events. The connections made from both organizations have been integral in my professional development. The programs from both are great avenues for new ideas to not only reach the industry but the public.
How would you describe the connection between energy efficiency and health and safety with regards to buildings?
Many energy efficiency measures increase health in the building. Whole building air sealing helps control air movement, saving money on conditioned air no longer being lost, but it also stops avenues for pollutants such as tobacco smoke, pests, chemical off-gassing and moisture. Sealing, balancing and retrofitting central ventilation systems provides control over ventilation, reduction in heating energy and costs, as well as fresh air to remove pollutants from homes. The fuel conversion of heating systems from #6 oil to #2 oil, biofuel or natural gas means less particulate matter being released into the building and outdoor air. As energy auditors, we have a great opportunity to provide healthier living environments through our recommendations and it is our duty to keep health and safety of residents in the forefront of our mind when evaluating buildings.
How do you think the impact of Hurricane Sandy has affected approaches to enhancing energy efficiency and health of buildings?
Since Sandy, there has been an increased interest in installing combined heat and power systems that can act as emergency generators, moving the boiler to the roof to avoid future flooding, using mold resistant materials in flood prone areas, integrating resiliency measures into preventative maintenance plans and resident outreach so neighbors are prepared to help each other in times of need. NYC has formed its own Resiliency Task Force in conjunction with the Urban Green Council. The housing community as a whole is working to provide people with resources to address these potential changes in building operation as well as owners being very receptive to putting in an effort now to lessen impacts of future storms.
Once a building has undergone a retrofit, what are some essential measures for maintaining its sustainable nature?
Training of all building staff and residents is key in maintaining savings as well as updating the operations plan to include all new equipment, sequence of operations and preventative maintenance actions. Building staff must also have access to energy bills and understand the impacts of the upgrades and to have real time data on when usage is going up.
What is your approach to cultivating a commitment to sustainability from your clients?
Being in NYC for 6 years, I have seen an increase in awareness, funding for these types of projects and regulation around green buildings. Sustainability commitments or missions from owners and managers have in some cases been in response to this shift and others have a genuine commitment to sustainability for future generations. Methods or cultivating this will vary based on the reasons behind the commitment and understanding those reasons is the first step.
Interview conducted by Claire Brown.
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