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80/50 Vision: The Mayor’s Bold Greenhouse Plan

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Related Companies’ hot water heaters have been built too big for a long time.

No one really knows (or knew until recently) how big hot water heaters should be. “There has been a dearth in general of real data,” Charlotte Matthews, Related’s vice president for sustainability, explained to Commercial Observer. The real estate giant had been building its hot water heaters based on rules of thumb long used by engineers. But the company recently got motivated to get sizing to an exact science to optimize its cogeneration facilities for Hudson Yards, where waste heat from other systems will contribute to keeping water hot.

“So we measured hot water consumption in our buildings and found that our systems were between two and eight times oversized,” she said.

That means that a lot more water was kept hot than the buildings would use. That’s a lot of wasted energy.

But measurement and verification can show what’s working and what’s wasteful for big buildings and they are driven in part by policy and a consensus that has formed in the real estate industry. The administration of MayorBill de Blasio has set a goal he calls 80 x 50, to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The Real Estate Board of New York has gotten behind it, advocating for smart energy policy and joining the mayor’s Green Building Technical Working Group (and co-chairing two of its subcommittees).

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