The Seward Park Cooperative, one of the largest residential complexes on the Lower East Side, has shifted from using Con Ed steam to its own environmentally-friendly boilers for heat and hot water.
Earlier this month, two out of four boilers became operational, providing service to more than 1700 apartments as well as commercial tenants at the Grand Street property. The other boilers will go online in the next couple of weeks. The low pressure boilers are equipped with natural gas-fired “California-standard” burners; Seward Park is the first residential complex in New York City to install these type of burners for water and heat.
This morning, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver did the honors during a ribbon cutting ceremony and praised the co-op for completing a project that will lower heating bills for residents and “benefit everyone” in the community by creating a cleaner environment. The co-op, which also has an electric car charging program, is a “leader in leaving the environment for our children and grandchildren better than it is today,” he said. Silver, who decades go lived in a Seward Park apartment, is now a resident of the Hillman Houses, located a few hundred feet to the east on Grand Street.
Seward Park’s 10 year steam contract from Con Ed expired last year just as Hurricane Sandy hit the city. Silver helped the co-op negotiate a six-month extension with Con Ed, which had signaled its intention to raise the cooperative’s rates significantly. The extension saved Seward Park around $1 million, said Frank Durant, the co-op’s general manager.
The conversion has been in the works for more than eight years. The property’s heat and hot water had previously come from the same system powering two other Grand Street cooperatives, East River and Hillman. But that relationship was severed more than a decade ago during a dispute with the other complexes. Seward Park was one of Con Ed’s biggest steam customers. Last year, during Hurricane Sandy, the cooperative lagged behind many other buildings in the neighborhood in restoring heat and hot water because it was dependent on Con Ed, which suffered a debilitating explosion at its 14th Street plant.
Yesterday, we toured the new facility, located under a Chinese restaurant on Clinton Street, with Durant. The basement space had not been used in many years. Last year, he noted, the co-op spent nearly $2 million on Con Ed steam. $5 million was budgeted for the conversion (the funds came from flip tax and apartment sale revenues).
Durant estimated the new system would save the co-op around $400,000 each year. The 500-horsepower boilers were purchased from Easco, a firm located in the Bronx. The contractor is Dynamic Mechanical. Seward Park is managed by the Charles Greenthal Company. There are two boiler rooms at Seward Park. The second facility is located on the grounds of Apple Bank, a Seward park tenant at 466 Grand St., near Pitt Street.
Durant said the next environmentally-friendly initiative in the works is co-generation — which will provide all four co-op buildings with backup electrical power during emergencies.
In the past year, the East River and Hillman cooperatives also installed new clean-burning heating system.