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These apartments are turning into 'virtual power plants' thanks to a cutting-edge technology that will save renters money

"Why should the owner of the building invest in making your apartment more energy efficient?"

Installing smart thermostats to save renters money

Photo Credit: iStock

New York City passed one of the country's most ambitious laws to curb planet-warming gas emissions in 2019, as reported on the official website of the City of New York. Known as Local Law 97, it mandates that most buildings that exceed 25,000 gross square feet (combined square footage within the exterior walls on all floors) comply with new, stricter limits on air pollution, eventually reducing those emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

Crucially, those buildings' owners will begin facing fines if they do not start to comply with the new limits for 2024 (when they report by May 2025). And because 2024 is right around the corner, real estate developers and landlords are now hurrying to address those goals without sacrificing money.

Luckily, at least one company that helps property owners and managers add climate-smart tech has come across a solution that it thinks could lower building emissions while saving money for landlords and tenants. Its answer lies in smart thermostats.

Logical Buildings, along with financing partner Keyframe Capital, recently announced a plan to install smart thermostats in thousands of rental units. Those thermostats will be linked to the company's virtual power plant, connecting all of them to the cloud, which could reduce the overall energy usage of the buildings.

While there may be better options — for instance, upgrading buildings that rely on oil and gas heating to more modern, energy-efficient methods of heating and cooling such as heat pumps, which would more directly cut down on planet-warming air pollution — David Klatt, the COO of Logical Buildings, explained to Canary Media that retrofits for heating systems and whole-building upgrades are more expensive. 

Instead, the landlords and property owners will turn to smart thermostats as a sort of partial solution that it hopes will bring them closer to the city's limits, resulting in lower fines.

"Why should the owner of the building invest in making your apartment more energy efficient if all the benefit [goes] to the resident?" Canary Media quoted Klatt as saying, hinting that incentive might be improved if tools that add smart tech and save residents on energy bills come at no upfront cost to building owners.

One other answer to his question is that making the thousands of apartments you own more energy efficient could go a long way toward ensuring that Earth remains habitable, as the negative effects of planet-warming gasses are well documented at this point. 

Another, more immediate answer is that the law says you have to now.

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