Making a Difference as Part of a (Green) Team

By Lielle Berman, Sustainability Project Coordinator

With 2016 now vying for the top spot as the new hottest year on record (see here), I am struck by this year’s coincidence of Earth Day and Passover. For those of you who may not be familiar with Passover, it is, in a nutshell, a celebration of freedom. The juxtaposition of a celebration of environmental responsibility and stewardship with one of liberation and rebirth helped me remember how freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.

Last week at the UN, leaders of 160 countries ratified the Paris Agreement, as agreed upon at COP21 in December of 2015 (see here). According to a recent NY Times article, we’re making admirable progress, surmounting vast political and diplomatic obstacles to reach some consensus, but it’s still not enough to make a dent. So where does that leave us?

We are the Green Team!

Can we even make a difference? Despite my tendency to default to pessimism, here’s how this convergence of Earth Day and Passover has reminded me that yes, it does matter, and yes, we can make a positive impact:

How we take responsibility as a collective here has the power to resonate beyond these walls. The cool thing about positive impacts is how they have legs—chain reactions, butterfly effect, whatever you want to call it—a positive impact resonates and vibrates beyond the scope of what we can immediately see. Taking responsibility as individuals ensures the integrity and resilience of our community/country/species/planet, and enables the conditions for optimal freedom.

So for this Earth Day/Passover of note, I need to thank all of you for your positive impact. Thank you for being part of this community; for your willingness to learn, share, teach and grow. For listening, and raising your voices. It is no small thing to be engaged in a process of awareness, because it makes all the difference in the world.

energy efficiency, NYPA Initiatives, Uncategorized

An Energy Efficient Earth Month

During this Earth Month, we’ve focused on learning more about sustainability and energy efficiency, and educating people about the efforts we’re taking both internally and externally at NYPA to implement projects and initiatives that support Reforming the Energy Vision (#REV4NY). Governor Cuomo’s energy strategy for New York helps consumers make better and more informed energy choices, helps protect the environment throughout New York State, and works to ensure that 50% of electricity in New York State comes from renewable energy resources by 2030. Below, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite energy efficiency projects from the past year.

Over the past year or so, one of our biggest customers, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (MTA), received several upgrades to make their facilities more energy efficient and to help make New York a greener state.

An infrared radiant heating system was installed at their Jamaica Maintenance Shop to help heat the shop more efficiently. The heating system installation was completed in April of 2015 and will lead to savings not only on their energy bill, but it will also remove over 1,000 tons of harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.


New York City Transit’s Jamaica Maintenance Shop – Radiant Heating System

In October 2015, we completed the installation of the MTA’s Wireless Control of Rail Heaters. The wireless control network will allow New York City Transit to remotely activate and control the operation and function of heating elements used for de-icing the third rail during winter weather conditions. Before the installation, heaters were manually operated by installing a fuse in October and removing it in April, when winter wasn’t looming – now, with the wireless control, the heaters can be remotely activated from a central location drastically reducing runtime of the heaters, leading to an annual elimination of 3,618 tons of greenhouse gases.

Recent upgrades at Metro North Railroad’s Grand Central Terminal added four new centrifugal chillers to replace the old cooling towers with new ones. This chiller project will lead to a reduction of over 11,000 tons of CO2 annually.



In June of last year, John F. Kennedy International Airport received a whole slew of upgrades. The project’s main component was re-roofing 104,000 square feet of JFK Building 141. The re-roofing work was extremely timely; the existing roofing was deteriorated to the extent that major leaking occurred throughout the building. In addition to the new roofing, JFK Building 141 upgrades included steam traps, pipe & equipment insulation, air compressor replacement, backdraft damper replacement, window glazing, lighting upgrades, rapid roll-up doors for Building 141’s bus garage, roof drains, weather stripping and smart meters. JFK Building 111 was also upgraded, with an all-new energy efficient lighting system. JFK Airport’s energy efficiency upgrades have led to a 1,437-ton reduction in harmful greenhouse gas emissions.


New energy efficient upgrades at John F. Kennedy Airport

SUNY Buffalo also recently received some upgrades in the form of HVAC and lighting. A new air-handling unit was installed on the roof of Governors Dorm, in addition to thermostatic controls, infrared heaters, high efficiency lighting, burner controls and low-flow water fixtures.  HVAC upgrades were added to the Ellicott Complex, as well as Capen Hall; interior and exterior lighting upgrades were added to North Campus and South Campus, respectively. These upgrades will lead to a total greenhouse gas reduction of over 5,500 tons per year.


New energy efficient air-handler installed at SUNY Buffalo

Back when Hurricane Sandy hit, Coney Island Hospital was greatly affected by flooding. We hoped to change this when we installed a new boiler plant, including fuel conversion, by elevating the boilers above the flood line. A 300 kW backup generator system was also included as part of the resiliency improvements. An almost 3,600 ton reduction in greenhouse gases only adds to the efficiency of this project.


New boilers at Coney Island Hospital

Intern Experience, Summer Intern Series

Summer Intern Series: Chris Paolillo

New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides top college students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization.

Chris Paolillo is a senior at Stony Brook University, pursuing his degree in Mechanical Engineering. He works in Customer Energy Solutions at the White Plains Office.

I am working on BuildSmart NY – an initiative to answer Governor Cuomo’s executive order requiring New York’s State agencies to improve their energy efficiency by 20% by the year 2020. Under the executive order, the least efficient state buildings are required to conduct an energy audit which will present the agency with the current energy profiles of their facilities as well as several energy conservation measures they can make to improve their efficiency. My first task as a developmental intern was to review these audits and summarize their findings so that the information is readily available to the BuildSmart team.

Additionally, I’ve been assisting the team in creating a set of standards required in these audits, as well as a set of standard procedures for tracking the future progress of BuildSmart NY.

As an intern, I’ve learned that school has only given me an engineer’s tools. In order to become an engineer, I have to learn how to use them. My plan is to someday work as an engineer in the power generation industry. I want to play a role in the future sustainability of our country. NYPA’s mission completely encompasses those goals making it the perfect place to begin achieving them.

I am an Eagle Scout and I enjoy traveling, SCUBA diving, and spending time outdoors.

Intern Experience, Summer Intern Series

Summer Intern Series: Michael Laoye

New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides top college students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization.

Michael Laoye is a senior at Pennsylvania State University, pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Power Systems. He is currently working in the White Plains office in the Electrical Engineering department.

Presently, I am working on the operations of transformers and any faults associated with it. More specifically, I am building a database that will help determine the defects of transformers before and after the fault occurs. These defects are determined through DGA. DGA, or dissolved gas analysis, is a tool many professionals in the power industry use to detect faults in transformers. I intend on using this tool to our advantage here at NYPA to help in our diagnostics of transformers. My mentor, James Sheldon, has been beneficial throughout this process and has taught me the intricacies of transformers. With the knowledge I have learned, I hope to make this database a useful source for NYPA.

Coming into the power industry I had no expectations, other than it is a great career path to choose. Everyone has heard the saying, “Everyone needs electricity.” This saying is one of the reasons why I wanted to work in the power industry, especially NYPA. I wanted to assist in NYPA’s goal of providing low-cost, clean, and reliable power.

So far, it has been a great experience visiting several facilities, such as the St. Lawrence Power Project and the 500MW Power Plant, and learning what each site has to offer. Before my internship comes to an end, I’ll have more knowledge about the power industry than I came in with. I am grateful for having this opportunity to contribute towards NYPA’s goal and working with remarkable people, in addition to my mentor, such as Kathryn O’Toole and Natasha Owczarek, who both have been very helpful in this process.

In my spare time, I enjoy being active and learning about automobiles. I take pleasure in playing basketball, football, and going to the gym. I also appreciate the fine cars that the automobile industry has to offer, especially the Tesla Model S which is every engineer’s dream.

Intern Experience, Summer Intern Series

Summer Intern Series: Danielle Secor

New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides top college students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization.

Danielle recently graduated this May from Seton Hall University with a degree in Political Science and minors in Diplomacy/International Relations and Spanish. She is now continuing her studies and beginning her graduate degree in Diplomacy/International Relations and Public Administration. This summer, she is working in the Affirmative Action Office in the White Plains Office.

As an intern, I am faced with several exciting and challenging tasks throughout my day. In the Affirmative Action Office, I work together with Nancy Harvey on issues pertaining to Equal Opportunity Employment throughout NYPA. Currently, I am working on a presentation on LGBT rights in the workplace. This interests me because it is such an important issue in today’s society and it must be addressed in the workplace in order for people to know what is and is not appropriate.

My career goals are to work in government affairs and help improve the world we live in. This internship program has helped me become a more efficient worker. In addition, I have gained a better understanding of the laws and how they pertain to the work place. The people here are so willing to help me achieve my goals and network throughout the company. Speaking with people here such as Joe Leary, Ed Birdie, and Jill Anderson has helped pique my interest in the field and made me want to work harder to achieve my career goals.

I enjoy being outdoors, working out, reading, traveling and exploring new places.

Intern Experience, Summer Intern Series

Summer Intern Series: Aatif Mohammed

New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides top college students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization.

Aatif Mohammed is a junior at New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering. He is pursuing his degree in Mechanical Engineering, with a minor in Aerospace Engineering. He works in the Mechanical Maintenance department at the 500MW power plant.

Throughout my internship experience, I was given many projects and responsibilities. By the end of the first week, I found myself responsible for learning the science behind each of the plant’s systems. Two or three weeks in, I was given the task of inspecting some of the equipment and using complex technology to monitor its performance. Later on, I was involved in projects that required me to take inventory of power tools, update the operating and hold-off procedures, and utilize the plant’s organizational software, Maximo. My favorite project however, was one where I was given responsibility to help plan and stage the replacement of combustion turbine parts which kept me busy.

Working at NYPA helped me confirm my interest in mechanical engineering. Throughout the summer, I noticed myself getting fired up over the large scale and design of the plant. I was finally able to experience, in person, the engineering concepts I have been learning in college! It is now easy for me to see myself in the future working for a large engineering company and tackling large projects.

Outside of school, I like to spend my free time out in nature. I enjoy nice solitary walks alongside the trees and try to go hiking as often as I can. I get this feeling of “being in the moment” that does not come around when I am in the city. I also enjoy playing sports like basketball and football and I always find time to read self-improvement books to better myself.

Intern Experience, Summer Intern Series

Summer Intern Series: Victoria Nadile

New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides top college students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization.

Victoria Nadile graduated in May 2015 from Cornell University with a degree in Science and Technology Studies. She interns in Customer Energy Solutions at the White Plains Office.

I have been tasked with synthesizing data on NYPA projects—mainly focusing on those initiated in the last 5 years—in order to generate reports that will be used internally. The purpose of these reports is to help identify relationships as well as highlight trends among metrics such as the duration of various project phases, project cost, and customer groups over time. I have also been working on standardizing spread sheets that each team in CES uses to track their secondary metrics for the current year.

Before coming to NYPA, I had thought an energy company functioned accordingly: harvest energy and subsequently sell it. Just after only three weeks of working here, though, I have learned there is so much more to that equation. A couple of examples are the marketing teams that exist to ensure that the suite of services NYPA provides are available to customers and the development teams that are constantly working to expand those options by crafting not only new and intelligent energy technologies but also strategies to be more energy efficient. I look forward to continuing my work with data on NYPA project detail in order to get a better sense of our biggest customers, what programs NYPA is investing most of its energies towards, and how this data can help us improve our internal operations.

I spent a semester on the rustic island of Hawai‛i participating in a program through which I earned a minor in Earth Sciences. I love musical theatre (one of my favorite pastimes is singing show tunes) and hiking all around the country. I’m also scuba certified and enjoy diving in tropical locales.