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NYSERDA announces first-of-its-kind partnership with ASHRAE to build back better and mitigate spread of COVID while combating climate change


Wed, Jul 8th 2020 05:45 pm

NYSERDA will spearhead no-cost energy studies, leveraging jointly developed guidelines to support COVID-mitigating air quality and energy efficiency management practices and improvements in buildings across state

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority entered into a strategic partnership with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to advance the combined goals of improved indoor air quality and environmental sustainability. Through a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”), the strategic partnership will pave the way for best practices to be quickly developed and implemented related to COVID-mitigating indoor air quality (IAQ), building electrification and energy efficiency improvements in a number of public and private buildings across the state. Together, these actions will accelerate New York toward its goal of an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy and climate plan outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

Doreen M. Harris, acting president and CEO of NYSERDA, said, “This is a groundbreaking partnership that establishes a framework to help address some of society’s most pressing health and climate issues as we build back better under the strong leadership of Gov. Cuomo. Now more than ever, prioritizing safe indoor air quality while simultaneously working toward energy-efficient and cost-effective solutions for existing and emerging technology will help reduce the overall carbon footprint of New York’s building stock and protect our health, and we thank ASHRAE for their ongoing support with these important endeavors.”

As New Yorkers return to work, minimizing the transmission of health and life-threatening viruses and focusing on a healthy indoor environment will be key to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition to developing ventilation and IAQ best practices in collaboration with ASHRAE, NYSERDA will evaluate and publicly release the energy impact of improved IAQ technologies including ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which can be installed inside an air handling system and uses ultraviolet energy to inactivate organisms, minimizing airborne exposure to potential diseases such as the COVID/corona family of viruses.

2020-21 ASHRAE President Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E., said, “ASHRAE has taken a leadership role in providing technical resources to ensure the health and safety of building occupants as we start the transition into a post-COVID-19 environment. Our partnership with NYSERDA will leverage the collective strength of our organizations as we implement innovative energy management and indoor air quality practices to address today’s building challenges.”

NYSERDA and ASHRAE are committed to ensuring existing and newly identified technologies will be deployed in an energy-efficient, cost-effective manner. Recommendations and best practices developed will include carbon-neutral , energy efficiency, and building electrification guidance as well as energy efficiency training for building operators to help New York meet its goal of reducing overall carbon emissions 85% by 2050. Furthermore, NYSERDA and ASHRAE will work together with partners such as the Real Estate Board of New York and New York Energy Consumer’s Council in order to accelerate New York’s goal of a carbon-neutral building stock.

The MOU between NYSERDA and ASHRAE includes the following objectives:

√ Leveraging ASHRAE’s technical expertise to help New York meet its climate change, clean energy, market transformation and carbon emissions reduction goals codified in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

√ Supporting an effective response by New York to the COVID-19 crisis and enable the safe reopening and operation of buildings across the state in accordance with the “New York Forward” regional reopening plan.

√ Sharing and/or presenting existing research, resources, current knowledge, and best practices on minimizing airborne pathogen exposure through improved IAQ/ventilation/UVGI in buildings.

√ Developing guidance documents, technical manuals, and associated training for building owners, operators, service providers, and the design community with an emphasis placed on energy-efficient design, technology and operational approaches.

To jumpstart this work, NYSERDA’s FlexTech program, which provides funding for businesses to complete an energy analysis in order to identify cost-savings, will be used to complete a select number of no-cost energy studies to evaluate filtration efficiency, ventilation, and HVAC control improvements, as well as other building operation optimization measures. NYSERDA will study, document and make public the energy impacts of such air quality improvement opportunities.

Energy assessments and subsequent indoor air quality recommendations will be made for a number of different commercial building types throughout varying regions of the state including museums, hospitals, schools and hotels. The studies will evaluate multiple buildings operated by Empire State Development, Tishman Speyer, Rudin Management and Vornado as well as the following buildings, among others:

  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • North Colonie Central School District

This initiative will also include studies for participants such as the Rochester City School District, a large city district that serves a high proportion of economically disadvantaged students. Participating in this program will help the school deliver better air quality and lower energy costs, allowing them to redirect money saved to fund to other critical programs. Ensuring additional service providers and educators of low to moderate income and disadvantaged communities participate in this program will help achieve the state’s goal of ensuring benefits from clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Buildings account for 45% of greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion and electric generation in New York and, with over 56,000 members in 132 countries around the world, ASHRAE’s expertise with heating, HVAC, ventilation and refrigeration for buildings remains the gold standard for safe building operation. The partnership between NYSERDA and ASHRAE will enable the scalable adoption of COVID-mitigating building reopening guidance and it will lay the groundwork to develop documents, technical manuals and other tools to support’s New York’s nation-leading work toward a carbon-neutral building stock, increased building electrification, carbon emissions load calculations and other public policy goals codified in the CLCPA.

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