Archive for October, 2009

Adaptive Reuse

October 28, 2009

Piazza_del_CampidoglioWe tend to attribute the concept of adaptive reuse to the late twentieth century, when portions of cities in the western world were left with vacant buildings as a result of the transition of economies from manufacturing to technological bases.

The concept is in fact much older. Michelangelo’s replanning of the Capitoline Hill in Rome, the Campidoglio, conceived as early as 1536 and built during the mid sixteenth century, introduced order to the irregular geometry of the existing buildings. In the new facades and portions of buildings he added, Michelangelo shaped a trapezoidal space, in the center of which is not an ideal circle but an oval inscribed in the stone paving.

If planning a visit, October-November is a great time.


The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. - Michelangelo

Installed Capacity Program

October 26, 2009

Adams Power Stations 1 and 2 NiagaraWhen the NYSIO anticipates that New York State’s major transmission systems may be compromised due to weather-induced high electric demand, they may declare an emergency. Calls are made to Installed Capacity Program customers with a request to invoke curtailment measures under ICAP. Customers enrolled in the program receive an advisory day-ahead notice followed by a notice two hours before the event to curtail power.

The curtailment measures can include reducing usage or switching to dedicated standby power generated on-site.

Incentives for customers include cash payment of up to $0.50 kWh depending on the Local Marginal Pricing and rebated installation of an interval meter. There are also substantial incentives for standby power installation to meet program objectives, a scenario under which the customer gets to shift some of his capital cost for necessary standby generators and switches to the public sector-utility.

Photo of first major hydro plant in Niagara courtesy Tesla Society

Roof Links

October 21, 2009


* The albedo of an object is the extent to which it diffusely reflects light from sources such as the Sun. The albedo of fresh snow is 0.9 and that of fresh asphalt is 0.04

* Studies show that white roofs reduce air-conditioning costs by 20 percent or more in hot, sunny weather.

* How shiny is LA? The California South Coast Air Basin’s urban albedo is higher than its suburban albedo because the suburban land use has more vegetation. LBL did a fly-over to take measurements.

* Planted “green” roofs provide insulative value. They do not, however, have the reflectivity provided by white roofing materials, which reduce direct solar heat gain. When seeking highest efficiency per capital investment, the choice between a green roof and a white, reflective one requires study of alternative insulation schemes; climate is a major factor.


Roofs in snow, Brett Weston


October 16, 2009

nyc aqua 2 views copynyc aqua pools

NYC DOT has begun a pilot LED exterior lighting program along roads in Central Park. The project’s financial payback is being monitored by a third-party M&V contractor, who will also report on GHG reductions.

Other city agencies may soon follow suit and launch their own LED exterior lighting programs. Ten years on, our 1999 exterior lighting at the NYC Aquarium is a good candidate for an energy reduction program.

Owner: NYC

Client: NYC DDC

Contractor: P. Cantanzaro

Architect: Salvador Behar Architects

Custom Fixtures: R. Friedman + Derecktor Shipyards

Aquatic Center

October 13, 2009


MVC-931XYesterday we were commissioned to design a Solid State Lighting solution for an NCAA  competition pool.

The project intent is energy savings, carbon emissions savings related to a NYC-wide competition, improved lighting efficacy, and Operations  & Maintenance savings.

O & M savings is a driving factor in many SSL retrofits. As an example, we’ve been working with a college whose lamp replacement fixed cost for exterior lights is $1000./day, due to the lift equipment and union labor required. The school is implementing SSL which will yield tremendous O & M savings. The new lamps are rated for 70,000 hours at L-70.

Data Center Energy

October 12, 2009

DE raised floor with perforated tiles

DE aisle and CRACData center energy usage in NYS is estimated to be an annual 4.5 billion kW-H resulting in an energy cost of $593 million. NYSERDA and Con Edison are hosting a one-day tech talk aimed at this market. Last year’s event was informative, and NYSERDA promise this year’s event will have 25% new content.

Generation from Water

October 7, 2009

080214 T

Vortex Hydro Energy and the marine engineering faculty at the University of Michigan have developed a device called Vivace which harnesses vortex induced vibrations (VIV) to generate electricity. Their inspiration was the failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the 1940’s, whose structural failure was caused by VIV building in amplitude. Since that time engineers have struggled to dampen this phenomenon. Vivace turns that parameter on its head and instead uses VIV to generate. Vivace works in very-slow-velocity water environments, including rivers. The technology is being applied in a pilot project in the Detroit River.

A different set of water generation technologies being developed primarily in the UK harness tides to generate and could be applied in the Hudson. Below is a chart of the amplitude of tides off Tarrytown, NY.


Greater New York City has a need to develop distributed generation due to restricted transmission infrastructure and PSC reluctance to fund Con Ed transmission investment in this economy. Our rivers, Harlem, East, and Hudson (actually two estuaries and a fjord), afford a unique DG resource when waterfront development returns and projects begin anew.

Sketch-up model of waterfront development, Milton Lau and Salvador Behar


October 6, 2009

New Image_elevator lobbyNew Image_deskNew Image

This building lobby in Flushing Queens features original artwork screened onto glass and backlit with fiber optic cable.

The lobby finish materials are fire-retardant treated wood and painted gypsum board partitions, aluminum reglets at gypsum board, brushed stainless steel column cladding, honed Chinese granite flooring and base, and MH and T4 lighting.

The lobby was cited by NYSERDA for its energy efficient lighting.


Michael Lee


Top 8 Construction


Salvador Behar

MEP Engineer:

Thornton Tomasetti

Data Center

October 5, 2009


Last week we received a commission to design a new data center for a Yonkers non-profit. The center will be located in the administration building on the Yonkers campus, the building at center of the photo. The data center will serve all enterprise IT needs, including those of off-site facilities in the Bronx. The center may include server virtualization to minimize power and space required for data storage. The facility will be supported by a clean-burning NG-powered back-up generator. The generator is under 200 hp and not subject to NYS DEC air quality permitting; nonetheless, it will meet Tier III emissions regulations.

Later this year,  we’ll begin a lighting installation at another facility on this campus, the building at left in the photo. That design has received a citation from NYSERDA for energy-efficient design exceeding requirements of the NYS Energy Conservation Code. The installation of High-Output T8 fixtures, and of occupancy sensors at the larger spaces, will qualify the project for NYSERDA funding for each HO-T8 fixture and sensor.

Our firm also served as energy consultant to the renovation of the administration building. The project received a NYSERDA grant for the HVAC upgrade under the Existing Buildings Program, and received a loan from the agency under their Loan Fund Program. We secured both the grant and loan.

For more information, write