It is one of our goals to hold this week long event annually as a way to promote awareness as a community. And the more residents can do collectively, the bigger impact we have reducing waste and reducing the total carbon footprint of the building. As a building and condo association, you should know we are constantly working on ways to integrate measures which reduce Park Tower’s reliance on energy and overall impact on the environment.
Green Week is perhaps the most visible thing we do. And this year we are working on actually holding a second such event, in November to compliment “America Recycles Day”. If that ends up as successful as Green Week, it may be something we consider doing on an Annual basis as well. We are tentatively planning recycling efforts, shredding, bike winterization, and another Rummage Sale. By request, we are also working to plan a resident Art Fair. More to come as plans come together for this second annual event.
Over the past several years, LED Lighting has been installed in one form or another in almost every location throughout the building, from the Management Office to the garage, maintenance areas, storage rooms, lobby and hallways. (New stair and exit signs are all LED!) In addition to that, motion sensors have been installed in many areas where lights were originally designed to be on 24/7. Such locations include the shop, storage rooms and bathrooms in the mall and 2nd floor. This has been a multi-year process, but given the differences LED technology and motion sensors make, lighting easily uses a fraction of the electricity it used to. In coming years, consideration may be made to look at options for the hallway light fixtures with an LED solution. Such an option will reduce electric consumption, but may also brighten the halls a bit which I know will make some owners very happy. Exterior lighting installed as a part of the Plaza/Driveway Project two years ago employed LED technology. Many owners noticed we added lighting, however, with the changes made, the net effect of using LED actually reduced our projected electric output. And, it brightened up PTs entrance at the same time.
All Major Projects are looked at for opportunities to help save on utilities and/or reduce our environmental impact. The multi year riser projects and lobby ceiling plumbing work last year all employed new technology to help save. Valves and fittings and even how the network of plumbing is laid out was planned with every reasonable opportunity possible to reduce our water consumption.
Recent roof work employs technology to reflect solar energy back into space – such as the white roof above the mall on the north side of the building. Over coming years, similar methods will be employed on other PTCA roof areas.
Our Mechanical Plant with particular emphasis on the heating and cooling systems throughout the building, has been maintained as professionally as possible – the boilers are inspected and cleaned during the summer and the chillers the same during the winter. The chillers, Energy Star certified already, are 10 years old and this year the Board approved the “10 Year Tear-down” project, which was completed This was needed not only to extend the life of the chillers, but to maintain the efficiency capabilities of the system. With chillers, the cleaner and better maintained, the more energy which can be removed from the water circulating through the building when the cooling is on. This results in less electricity being expended throughout the process.
Management and the engineering staff work closely with some of the most highly recognized vendors in the industry to keep these systems running cleanly and efficiently. Maintenance contracts are bid out, usually every 2 to 5 years, for most systems which need this type of care. Wherever there is an opportunity for improvements or if replacements are needed, the latest procedures and technologies available which are compatible with our system are used to help reduce energy and water consumption. This year, we are replacing the hot water heaters which serve all units from the 30th to 55th floors. The present heaters are original to the building, so they rely on 45 year old technology and are extremely inefficient compared to the technology available today. With the replacements, we are employing the latest tech available to reduce energy and water consumption without sacrificing any capability.
We do some small stuff too, believing the philosophy that every little thing counts. Especially here in the Management Office. Everything from reusing paper that would otherwise be wasted, as hybrid post it notes, to modifying our standard operating procedures to move more and more activity from hard copy to electronic files. Folks requesting copies of the rule or Decs & Bylaws are encouraged to get copies online. We no longer use a paper resident list at the front desk! We sometimes have numerous move ins and move outs weekly. Instead of printing out 40 pages of paper every time we have a change, we now transfer the file with the front desk electronically. This actually saves hundreds – if not thousands of pieces of paper. While no computer system is 100% reliable, we have a back up procedure. Security still gets a copy of the list and the management staff has access to the system if there is a problem after hours. So, there should not be any inconvenience if you have a guest. But the fact is, we save 40 pieces of paper every time we don’t print a copy of the list.
This is just some of the work we do to save energy, save water, save time, save resources, and reduce unnecessary waste. We are committed to continue doing so any way we can. If you have any questions or ideas, don’t be shy. Let us know. Even a simple idea, such as that raised by an owner at the November 7th Unit Owners Forum, can make a difference. An owner suggested a program to expand the presence of thermostats in the building. And that resulted in our effort to install about 200 thermostats building wide. An effort we estimate will save the building $10,000 per year at the present cost of electricity. Not to mention, how much it saves individual unit owners who save every time their convector fan isn’t running when it otherwise would be.
The most recent development, is the formation of the Green Committee. This group will work on ways to initiate awareness and change for the better as a community. This is an “idea intensive” group, discussing the possibilities and working to progress efforts to initiate change that results in a collective improvement of Park Towers impact on the environment. The first thing the group is targeting is water consumption and raising awareness about how much water Park Tower uses as a community. For the time being they are only meeting as a group, but eventually they intend to branch out, recruit more members and get ideas generated for how Park Tower can reduce its environmental impact.
We are committed as individuals and as managers of Park Tower to help initiate change and support any effort to improve our community. If you have any questions or suggestions, just send us an e-mail.