The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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How is Poly Improving on Energy Efficiency?

Members of the Poly community may have noticed new signs posted at various building entries to Poly Prep’s campus. Printed in large bold font, the signs read “Building Energy Efficiency Rating,” followed by a D grade and a subsequently more specific grade of nine out of 100. For such an expansive building, a poor energy efficiency grade is possible, but a nine out of 100 certainly turned some heads. So what exactly does this rating mean, and can Poly Prep improve on this rating?

According to Concessi Engineering, Poly Prep’s engineer of record, Local Law 84 requires any building over 25,000 square feet within New York City to report its utility usages, which can include but isn’t limited to electric, natural gas, fuel oil, water, steam, propane usage to the city. This usage data is then entered into the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which uses the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s standards to generate a total Greenhouse Gas Emissions Intensity measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted per square foot. This score is then compared to other buildings of similar size and specifications to generate the 1-100 score that is posted on the building as per Local Law 33. According to the NYC Sustainability Help Center, it would be difficult to make any specific recommendations for Poly Prep’s campus without an in-depth audit. Still, the help center referred the Polygon to their thirteen bullet points for Energy Conservation Measures, some of which include LED lighting, insulating pipes, and sealing windows. 

The purpose of the grade is simply a way for the public to know whether or not a building is energy efficient. According to an article from the Gothamist, “Buildings won’t be fined for receiving low grades (they only receive fines if they fail to post them). But that will all change in 2024 when Local Law 97 goes into effect. Those fees could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for the lowest performing buildings.” 

Sophia Chamorro

The scoring system has received criticism for its inconsistencies. According to an article from CBS News, “One Bryant Park, the first LEED Platinum skyscraper, which set a standard for green construction, earned a ‘D.’ ‘Because the system is one-size-fits-all that measures us against half-empty buildings in suburban office parks in Arizona, New York City skyscrapers don’t score particularly well,’ said Jordan Barowitz of The Durst Organization, a leading commercial and real estate agency.’” The city does acknowledge that the grading system isn’t a perfect system, but hopes that it’s the first step in getting everyone to do their part in improving energy efficiency and helping the environment.

The reasoning behind Poly’s score is quite complicated due to the ambiguity of this grading system. John McGee, Poly Prep’s Operations Manager, said, “Poly’s campus is over one hundred years old and the Department of Buildings reads the campus as one location. We’re not scored individually by building, we’re scored on a campus wide assessment. It’s very easy to look at the score and say, ‘oh, this is horrific,’ but I think it’s also very easy to overlook the fact that there is a lot that is not accounted for in the score.” 

According to Concessi Engineering and McGee, it has been difficult to draw conclusions as to where Poly’s campus really stands in energy usage compared to their peers due to the pandemic. Different regulations regarding building usage during the pandemic and occupancy, and the timing of these regulations, have made it difficult to determine whether buildings of similar stature were actually more or less efficient or just had varied usage. Even though the DOB (Department of Buildings) lists Poly as being comprised of three buildings according to their benchmarking page, Poly is graded through a campus wide assessment. McGee hopes to work with the DOB in the future to get individual grades for each of Poly’s buildings. All of this makes it difficult to actually determine why Poly has scored so low, and where they can improve on energy efficiency. According to the NYC Sustainability Help Center, a possible reason for Poly Prep’s decrease in score could be the gradual return to campus after COVID.

As for recent efforts to lower the overall energy usage of Poly Prep’s campus, per the report from Concessi Engineering and McGee, numerous renovations have been done. For HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning), the Chapel, Jordan Center (the extension containing the old dance studio and nurse’s office), Library, Alumni Building, Science Building, and Poly Arts Center systems have all been replaced with more energy efficient systems. Additionally, all new light bulbs installed are LEDs, along with motion sensors where applicable, and boiler runtime has been reduced to prevent excess energy use. Only time will tell if these renovations can help improve on Poly’s energy efficiency grade.

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About the Contributor
TJ Iannelli
TJ Iannelli, Managing Editor
TJ Iannelli is one of the Managing Editors for the Polygon. A member of the Polygon for three years now, TJ has been a staff writer and Opinions Editor in the past. His favorite articles to write vary, but mainly focus on major school changes or STEM. Outside of the Polygon, TJ is a two sport athlete and a member of Green Key. Some of his hobbies include surfing, snowboarding, and F1.

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