Energy efficiency has become as ordinary a phrase these days as deficit reduction, and yet there are only a handful of commercial buildings on Long Island that can boast that they are saving two precious elements - heat and light.
In the not-too-distant future, there will be two more such buildings, on West Main Street in Smithtown, both owned by Long Island serial entrepreneur A.J. Caro. They will house several of his businesses, including the nationally known Arrow Security guard protection service. According to Smithtown building officials, Caro's the buildings Caro will renovate will be the only commercial structures in the town to be LEED certified, a little-known but vitally important designation standing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Caro's buildings could realize as much as a 45 percent savings in energy costs annually, said the contractor Caro has hired to make the buildings green.
There are only about a dozen commercial buildings in Nassau and Suffolk counties with such prestigious designations, according to the Long Island chapter of the United States Green Building Council.
Being "green" is everything in building construction these days, and utilities such as LIPA and National Grid heavily promote the idea and offer both ideas and financial and other incentives to developers who design their structures with the environment in mind. That's what Caro has done. "I've always been a big proponent of saving the environment," said Caro, in a recent interview.
Last year, for example, he converted a fleet of gasoline-powered Arrow security vehicles to hybrids. Caro said he sees being energy-efficient as not only providing economic value, but also offering a great benefit to employees who work in environmentally sounds buildings. They tend to feel better physically, coming down with fewer colds, sore throats and eyestrain through better lighting.
LEED certification was developed in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council, through a series of committees consisting of developers, builders and environmental scientists. The council says that currently, some 9 billion-square-feet of building space in the U.S. is participating in a variety of LEED rating systems. On Long Island so far LED projects include the Wild By Nature stores owned by King Kullen supermarkets; Brookhaven National Laboratories research support facilities; the Leviton Manufacturing building in Melville, the Tanger Outlet Mall in Deer Park, the Adelphi University Sports Center, Westhampton Village Hall and the Amityville Village Hall, among others.
One of Caro's buildings will house the headquarters of Arrow Security, Community Care Home Health Services, the Strategic Health staff and BluChip SEO. The other will provide medical space for physicians. Caro hopes to being renovating the buildings by the beginning of 2013. John Bongino, director of Smithtown's Building Department, said he is unaware of any other commercial structure in the town that is LEED certified. "We're encouraging awareness" of green buildings, Bongino said. "It's important for them to do this."
Jimmy Carchietta, founder and chief executive of the Cotocon Group, which has offices in Hicksville and Manhattan and has provided Caro with an assessment of "green advantages," said he expects the two buildings could achieve energy savings of as much as 45 percent annually. Cotocon proposes to develop a "weather-adjusted base year" for all gas, electric and water that is consumed. It also proposes to develop a five-year plan for energy efficient measures that could include capital upgrades and operational enhancements. Cotocon will also look into lighting, possibly recommending new fixtures, lamps and ballasts. "Where we eat, breath and work are very important," Carchietta said. "This is all now a very hot topic.”
For his part, Caro said, "I'll be proud I had the chance to do this. It's the right thing to do and the people working there will be in a clean environment."
Bernstein is a representative for BlueChip Marketing.