The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Understanding Local Law 84

    Understanding Local Law 84

    If you own a large building, then you should already be aware of Local Law 84, also known as the NYC Benchmarking Law. This law holds you responsible for reporting the water and energy consumption of your property.

    Starting in 2018, Local Law 84 is expanding to include mid-size buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet, but less than 50,000 square feet. This means that a whole new range of properties will now be required to comply with Local Law 84. Because of this, it is very important owners of mid-size buildings are able to understand and provide the necessary information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s online portal, because a failure to comply will result in a penalty.  

    The purpose of this law is not only to help the local authorities understand the consumption of water and energy, but allow for an increased amount of transparency. This is of particular importance because many people, when looking for a place to live, take into consideration the energy efficiency of the building. By collecting this data, the city will be able to provide both landlords and renters with the information they need in order to make more sustainable choices. 

    The Process

    If you’re a mid-size building owner and you aren't sure how to comply with the new annual benchmarking process, we’re here to help. Below, please find the necessary steps we’ve provided, which will help you understand the necessary forms to complete and how to get your building information registered:

    1. Check the Covered Buildings List online for your property every year.

    2. Set up an account in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, if you don't already have one.

    3. Enter or review the characteristics and uses of your building.

    4. Collect every bit of energy and water data from your utilities provider for the entire building.

    5. Record your energy and water usage in the Portfolio Manager® account you created in step 2 above.

    6. Confirm and enter your BBL and BIN information.

    7. Check your data for errors and completeness, and make adjustments as needed.

    8. Submit usage data to the City by May 1 of every year through your profile.

    This process will help the New York City better plan energy uses in the future. Environmental protection remains a priority in the entire city, the stakeholders of which realize the importance of being as responsible as possible with energy and water. By knowing your energy consumption, you can then work towards making positive changes and reduce the energy used by your building. 

    If you own a building, you already know that there are a variety of inspections and laws you need to adhere to on a continuous basis. Local Law 84 is just one of them. But you don't need to panic; instead, simply work with experts that are there to help you navigate through the laws. If you have any questions, or need help in getting started, please contact us.

  • Considerations for Storefront Rehabilitation

    Considerations for Storefront Rehabilitation

    It is often said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. First impressions have the ability to either make or break a business; the right first impression can draw potential customers in, while the wrong one can drive customers into the arms of competitors. A building’s storefront plays a crucial role in a store’s advertising and merchandizing, and as a result, the storefront has become one of the most important architectural features of many historic buildings. The sensitive rehabilitation of a building’s storefront can not only increase business, but contribute to efforts to revitalize neighborhoods.

    Keys to Success

    A key to the successful rehabilitation of historic storefronts, is the delicate treatment of each of its components. Significant storefront features, including windows, sash, doors, transoms signs and other decorative features, should be repaired, replaced in kind, or addressed by a compatible contemporary design in order to maintain the character of the building.

    Where a storefront no longer exists or is deteriorated beyond repair, a new storefront must be designed. New storefront elements should reflect the size, scale, color, material and character of the building. Before any work can begin, the Architect must establish a thorough understanding of the building’s architectural history and relationship to the streetscape. Old photographs, prints and physical components should be considered, and influence the form and details of the rehabilitation or new design.

    Whether restoration or redesign is the path of choice, it is important to keep design elements simple and to allow the architectural elements to speak for themselves. Signage and awnings should be kept free from visual clutter, and of modest size. The lighting elements considered should be warm and inviting, while the integration of physical security elements should be kept out of sight. It is also important to address areas of graffiti and vandalism, which can make customers feel unsafe or unwelcome.

    Understanding Regulations

    All historic properties in New York City must follow the rules and master plans outlined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Restorative work can be approved at the staff level if it is based on documented historic precedents and does not involve the destruction of historic fabric. However, contemporary designs require a review before the full Commission at a public hearing.

    Additionally, any planned construction on a building’s storefront must follow the local building code. New York City building code is a set of regulations that governs everything from the size of the sign you can put up to the type of lighting fixture that can be installed. Building permits are required for awnings, marquees, flagpoles and signs larger than 6 square feet. It is important to consult your Architect regarding all relevant codes and required permits.

                Feel free to contact Scott Henson Architect to discuss your building’s historic storefront.