The majority of residential buildings in New York City obtain power from Con Edison or secondary energy suppliers. But in recent years, boards and managing agents have investigated, and in some cases, installed “cogeneration” systems that allow properties to produce a portion of the energy they use on-site. Like most technologies, there are both benefits and drawbacks to converting to a cogeneration system.
William Cristofaro, a licensed engineer and president of Energy Concepts, which has offices in New York City, New Jersey, and Rochester, explains that cogeneration is the simultaneous production of electric power and heat from a fuel-fired engine or turbine. In New York City, for example, he says most buildings have either natural gas-fired engines or small turbines.
“By installing a cogeneration system, condos and co-ops in New York City can substantially reduce their energy use, upgrade aged central plant infrastructure, and obtain a source of standby power when the utility goes down,” says Cristofaro. “Often the cogeneration plant project can include other upgrades, such as new boilers and chillers. The energy savings pays for the project.”
The cogeneration movement is not new, and in fact dates back to the early 1980s, explains Vishnu Barran, sales manager for ENER-G Rudox, an East Rutherford, New Jersey– based cogen company that Barran notes installed its first cogeneration system in 1984.
“The demand for energy is ever-growing while it is becoming increasingly expensive. Businesses and individuals are seeking to reduce their costs and carbon footprint,” says Barran. “Cogeneration is highly energy efficient. It can deliver a number of positive financial and environmental benefits, as well as supply an organization with power and heat.”