Sustainability is often thought to mean renewable energy systems and projects; while renewable energy systems are among the sustainability options for a building, but they are not nearly the total sustainability picture. Even at this time with as much growth as the renewable energy field has seen, in reality, renewable energy is an option for relatively few facilities, particularly in a high density urban area with a lot of existing structures, like New York City. Not focusing on renewable energy projects may seem to be contradictory to the Low Carbon Engineering concept, but it really is not. We can, and have done, renewable systems where a client had specifically wanted it but, generally, we find it more cost effective and widely applicable to improve on the existing facility without adding something new to it.
Sustainability is far more than renewable energy. For most facilities, and for the DSMEA Low Carbon Engineers, sustainability services are entirely about making facilities as sustainable as possible with the systems they already have. This is done through the use of ASHRAE energy audits and implementation of energy monitoring; as well as through the auditing and benchmarking requirements mandated by New York City.