Quantifying Sustainability: Are There Rewards in the Risk?


two construction workers installing solar panels onto the roof of a building

Green costs green; everyone knows it.

Energy efficiency = $$$ upfront. Therefore, environmentally friendly aspects of many projects become the first targets on the VE list down the road.  This apprehension isn’t without warrant. Paying it forward with these projects can leave many wary, not knowing the return with much certainty. There are many speculations and little hard research into the rewards to be reaped when being sustainably proactive. Recently, a non-profit out of Germany aimed to move past all the conjecture and attempt to uncover some tangible benefits of even the most modest of energy-reducing retrofits.

A snapshot of their findings among the 19,000 retrofitted affordable housing units in New York City:

  • 19% savings in fuel bills and 10% savings in electricity.
  • This translates to an average of $240/yr. savings in gas and $70/yr. savings in electricity.
  • Terrific Tenements’ 88-unit building installed new boilers and heating controls for a savings of $551/yr. per apartment.
  • Terrific Tenements’ sister building saved an average of $355 annually per unit using similar methods.

The retrofits at the Terrific Tenements “was not achieved with any particularly exotic technologies” like solar panels or a green roof, Mr. Zuluaga said. Rather, this is the simple story “of how an owner took the worst-performing building type in the city and turned it into one of the best-performing buildings in the entire city.”

You can read on to the full story in the New York Times.