NYC Metro Area’s HVACR Blog

Commercial HVAC, Commercial Refrigeration

It’s Not Easy Going Green: PlaNYC and Doing Your Part to Save Energy

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Last Updated on December 27, 2019


All New Yorkers face impacts from climate change

According to the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), New York City faces significant risks from climate change by the 2050’s. Mean average temperatures will rise by as much as 6.5 degrees, annual precipitation will increase up to 15 percent, and sea levels will rise by as much as 31 inches. Noticeable increases will occur within the coming decade. These are some of the impacts New Yorkers will see as a result of climate change:

  • Increase in devastating storms like Superstorm Sandy.
  • Heat waves that are more frequent, more intense and longer lasting.
  • More frequent heavy rain of increased intensity and duration.
  • Increased coastal flooding.

About PlaNYC and the NYC Carbon Challenge

PlaNYC is New York City’s comprehensive sustainability plan to prepare the city for the future, combat climate change, and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

Last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded on PlaNYC’s carbon reduction goal of 30 percent by the year 2030, with a commitment to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. NYC is the largest city in the world to commit to this goal.

In support of PlaNYC’s carbon reduction goal, the NYC Carbon Challenge was established to improve the energy efficiency of NYC’s buildings. Many of NYC’s leading universities, hospitals, global corporations and residential management firms have committed to voluntarily reduce their building-based emissions by 30% or more over 10 years.

Energy used in buildings far outweighs the energy used in any other sector in New York City. That’s why buildings have been targeted as an opportunity to make the greatest gains in energy efficiency. What’s more, saving energy in buildings not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduces operational expenses and frees up capital for other uses.

Here’s a surprising fact: NYC’s residential buildings make up the city’s single largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for 37 percent of total emissions. Last year the city expanded the NYC Carbon Challenge to include multifamily residential buildings.

How you can do your part to save energy and support PlaNYC

Most of us try to do what we can to save energy: we turn out the lights when we leave a room, we recycle our paper, glass and aluminum, and we fix leaky faucets to save water. But there is a great deal more you can do to contribute to PlaNYC’s carbon reduction goals.

If you live in a NYC multifamily residential building, or if you’re a NYC business owner, you can save a great deal of energy every year by making changes to your HVAC system.

Did you know that up to half of the energy you use in your home or business is being consumed by your HVAC system? According to reports by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Energy Information Administration, HVAC systems account for between 40 and 50 percent of a building’s energy consumption.

Related article: 10 Ways to Tweak Your HVAC System and Save on Your Energy Bills

What if we told you that investing in new HVAC technology could save a significant amount of energy? That means not only doing your part to support PlaNYC and contribute to a greener city, but also saving you some green in the form of lower energy bills.

With all the attention on climate change and greenhouse gases from PlaNYC and other national and international initiatives, manufacturers of HVAC equipment are monitoring worldwide emissions regulations and getting ahead of the curve with new innovations. If you are thinking about upgrading or replacing your HVAC system, ask your HVAC professional for more information about these new technology options that save energy.

New air conditioner compressor technology

Compressors are the biggest energy hogs in your HVAC system, accounting for up to 60 percent of usage. Because the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has mandated increases in HVAC equipment efficiency, it only makes sense that compressors have been the focus of most new technology development.

Today’s compressors have been designed to work with newer, more efficient refrigerants and use smaller amounts of them. Some are even designed with fewer joints to minimize refrigerant leaks and make leak detection easier.

Variable speed compressors: As the name implies, this feature allows the compressor to operate at a range of different speeds, depending on the system load. The design allows for less cycling, lower noise, and improved dehumidification, especially under light load conditions. These units are built for reliable operation and offer significant energy savings.

Tandem compressors: This feature, used in light commercial package, split and rooftop air conditioning systems, uses multiple compressors working together to improve energy-efficiency and temperature consistency. When the system is under a lighter load and less cooling is required, each compressor can be independently turned on and off to save energy, reduce noise and cycling, and increase the longevity of the system.

Scroll compressors: These new compressors use more efficient refrigerants, including R-410A described below. The design makes these units more environmentally friendly, more energy efficient, and even more reliable. They can maintain precise temperatures and lower relative humidity while using less fuel. They have fewer moving parts to cause breakdowns, take up less space, and even boast quieter operation.

Greener refrigerants

In the wake of the ban on chlorine-based refrigerant (also known as Freon), newer refrigerants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been developed that are safer for the ozone layer.

One of the most promising new refrigerants is R-410A, also known by brand names Puron®, Suva® 9100, or Genetron® AZ-20®. This HFC refrigerant can be used only in new HVAC equipment designed to handle higher pressure conditions.

R-410A offers high energy efficiency and allows your air conditioning unit to run at a lower temperature, which reduces the load on the compressor and reduces the risk of burn out. It’s cost effective because it requires a lower refrigerant charge, which is the amount of refrigerant your system needs to cool effectively.

Related article: The Future of Air Conditioning: It’s All About Efficiency and Comfort

HVAC maintenance also saves energy

Upgrading your HVAC equipment can come with a significant upfront price tag, although the new systems often pay for themselves in a relatively short period of time due to energy savings. But there is one easy and inexpensive way to reduce the energy consumed by your HVAC equipment: having it regularly maintained.

Clogged air filters, dirty vents, condensers with accumulated grime and worn parts force your system to work harder to produce the same cooling results and use more energy in the process. To consume less energy, have your system inspected, cleaned and serviced at least once per year.

You’ll also feel better knowing you’ve done your part to support PlaNYC’s carbon reduction goals and the sustainability of our city and our planet.

Want to learn more about HVAC preventive maintenance and how it can save you money? Grab a copy of our free guide: Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance.
Get the guide to understanding your HVAC System's hidden costs.