The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Solar Power and Renewable Energy Roof Design Doesn't Need to be Unattractive

    Solar Power and Renewable Energy Roof Design Doesn't Need to be Unattractive

    “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Thomas Edison, 1931

    New York City is following Edison's lead and putting its money on the sun and solar energy. One City Built to Last is a plan to reduce New York City's emissions by 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC) offers innovative financing options for energy efficiency and resiliency measures, including green mortgages and direct lending products that underwrite energy savings into the loan. The City will also explore modifications to the J-51 housing tax credit and the use of Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) to encourage additional investments in efficiency measures.

    We've all seen the pictures of solar panels sticking out on rooftops, today solar power and renewable energy roof designs don't have to be unattractive. A source book from the NREL shows buildings with different styles and colors of solar arrays. Most panels are blue, brown, and black, but some PV manufacturers can fill special orders for colors such as gold, green, and magenta. Imagine a vegetated roof with jewel-tone solar panels among the greenery. Solar shingles are available in New York too. And yes, New York City gets enough sun for solar roof systems. New York City receives more sunlight than Germany, which has the highest solar penetration per-capita in the world, and is on pace for a record-breaking year of installed solar in 2016. There is even a solar map that shows solar installations the city.

    New York City's higher electricity costs and the City's property tax abatement for solar means investments in solar energy pay back more quickly in the City than the rest of the state. Scott Henson Architect believes preservation and adaptive re-use of historic buildings is an effective tool for sustainable stewardship.

    Scott Henson Architect can design a beautiful energy-efficient roof for your building that will not only look great but will save you money.

    Contact us today to learn more.

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  • Compliance With Local Law 11 Cycle 8

    New laws are often enacted after there has been some sort of tragedy. Local Law 10, later 11, is no exception.

    In 1980, a piece of masonry fell from a building and a pedestrian was killed. To help prevent this from happening again, The New York City Council amended the building code. Building exteriors now had to be inspected by a properly licensed engineer or architect. This was called the Local Law 10 of 1980.

    The Local Law 10 of 1980 was amended and became the Local Law 11 of 1998. It is also referred to as "FISP," the Facade Inspection Safety Program.  It represents the oldest enforced facade inspection law in the nation, with over 12,500 buildings falling under its jurisdiction. 

    There have been different inspection cycles under this law. Cycles 1 through 7 ran from the inception of the law until February, 2013. The current Cycle 8 began February 21, 2015 and will run until February 21, 2019.

    These rules apply to buildings that are higher than 6 stories in height. If there is a question whether inspection and reporting is applicable, there is a website where the current FISP status can be checked. That website is here. The exterior walls and appurtenances must be checked by a licensed inspector, a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI). There is a two-year window within which this inspection must be done, and this window cycles every 5 years. All exterior walls must be examined.

    There is a Critical Report that must be filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB). The classifications in the resultant report are Safe, Unsafe, or Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP).

    • Safe applies to a building that will not become unsafe within the next five years
    • Unsafe is a condition of a building wall, any appurtenances thereto, or any part thereof, that is hazardous to persons or property and requires prompt repair." An unsafe condition must be corrected within 30 days. Extensions are permitted if certain conditions are met.
    • SWARMP is something that is safe at the time of inspection, but will need repair or maintenance within the next five years.

    There are filing fees that apply to these reports.

    When it comes to Cycle 8, there have been some changes that affect report filings.

    1. Prior to Cycle 8, if an air conditioner was considered unsafe, that designation then applied to the whole building. Now, an unsafe air conditioner is permitted a SWARMP designation. 
    2. Reports must now be filed within 60 days of completion, or a new examination is required.  This keeps reporting up-to-date and accurate.
    3. The third change involves fees. If a report has been rejected twice, a new fee is charged to cover the cost of the third report review.

    If you are still finishing taking care of business from Cycle 7, it is time to finish that now. The Sub-Cycle 8A runs from February 21, 2015 to February 21, 2017.  If your building comes up for inspection, and you still not have completed a Cycle 7 SWARMP, well, you can see the potential problem. Cycle 7 repairs need to be completed now.

    Contact us so we can help you come into compliance with Local Law 11, Cycle 8, as well as complete any Cycle 7 repairs.

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