Methodology, Semantics: a Digest

Posted: September 5th, 2009 | Author:

The “certificates of occupancy” (CO) accessed through the NYC dept. of Buildings Building Information System (BIS) confirm the number of floors in the building, the primary “use” of each floor, and the number of “dwellings” per floor. The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) contains tabulated data that indicates average annual energy consumption in 1000 Btu’s per square foot per use of buildings within a specific 3 state region for total “major fuel” use (In question for us, is the “Middle Atlantic” region, combining New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey).  It also contains the same information on energy consumption in kWh per square foot for electricity. Using the NYC dept. of Finance’s Tax Map utility, we are able to determine the total square footage of the building’s footprint. Combining this with measurements taken from Google’s aerial photography and mapping tools, along with verification from Bing.com’s “Birds Eye View” function, we were able to determine an approximate footprint for each of the structure’s 28 floors. Combining this, again, with CO data on number of dwellings and subtracting 2.5 to 5% to compensate for interior walls, we are able to calculate the average condo unit size per floor for each of the structure’s 22 floors zoned for private residence (predictably, there is a direct relationship between unit size and floor number).

Determining commercial space has become a bit more complicated and a bit less specific. The most helpful lead has been Todd Maisel’s article in the January 12th 1994 edition of Real Estate Weekly confirming that Beth Israel had indeed purchased “300,000 feet” of the tower’s commercial space, that they wouldn’t be able to fully occupy the space until the lease ends for a publishing company, etc. This being over a decade ago, and with the knowledge that Beth Israel’s Phillips Ambulatory Care Center is a primary commercial tenant of the building, we are presuming that they are indeed occupying the majority of its 300,000 square foot purchase. Other useful information in this regard is knowledge that the “Food Emporium” spans the building between 15th and 14th Streets, in that its signage is evident on each street (Chuck also remembers entering the food emporium once on the 15th St. side to use the ATM. He can vaguely testify that the unit is about a block deep). Other commercial operations on street level can be identified by their signage using Google Map’s Street View tool. Their rough street-frontage dimension can be determined by this as well. At least two dimensions can be determined for the occupants of the corner units. The additional, indeterminate dimensions of the non-corner commercial units can be estimated from this.

Correlating Semantics

Categories for specific use given by CBECS: Categories for primary use given by CO:
  • Education
  • Food Sales
  • Food Service
  • Health Care Inpatient
  • Health Care Outpatient
  • Lodging
  • Retail (Other Than Mall)
  • Office
  • Public Assembly
  • Public Order and Saftey
  • Religious Worship
  • Service
  • Warehouse and Storage
  • Other
  • Vacant
  • Theatre
  • Theatre Lobby
  • Safe Area
  • Parking
  • Mechanical
  • Storage
  • Office
  • Loading Docks
  • Retail
  • Eating and Drinking Establishment, Kitchen
  • Lobby (as opposed to ‘Theatre Lobby’?)
  • Lecture Hall
  • Conference Room
  • Atrium
  • Laundry Room
  • Health Club
  • Apartments

Observed Street Level Establishments

  • Food Emporium
  • Best Buy Mobile
  • Fedex Kinkos Ship Center
  • Au Bon Pain
  • Beth Israel Medical Center
  • HSBC
  • Subway Entrance
  • Starbucks
  • Parking Garage
  • Tower Cleaners
  • One Irving Place Condos
  • Vineyard Theatre
  • Cafe 15
  • Vacant Space
  • Loading Dock / Ambulance Entrance
  • Rhyme and Reason Stationary
  • The UPS Store
  • Game Stop

Given that CBECS provides consumption data for its categories, here are our subjective, yet reasonable reductions: (We encourage you to imagine your own!!)

  • Food Emporium:

    FOOD SALES

  • Best Buy Mobile:

    RETAIL (OTHER THAN MALL)

  • Fedex Kinkos Ship Service:

    hmmm . . . Service? Retail? Office? Let’s Say:

    AVERAGE OF OFFICE, RETAIL, SERVICE

  • Au Bon Pain:

    FOOD SERVICE

  • Beth Israel Medical Center

    HEALTH CARE OUTPATIENT

  • HSBC (Bank):

    Office? Service? Lets say,

    3 parts OFFICE, 1 part SERVICE

  • Starbucks:

    FOOD SERVICE

  • Parking Garage:

    Storage? Service? Let us say:

    2 parts STORAGE,1 part SERVICE

  • Tower Cleaners:

    SERVICE

  • One Irving Place Condos (Lobby):

    ? Public Assembly ? , Service? Its mostly empty, but it is climate controlled and people enter and exit from the street. Perhaps this:

    AVERAGE OF SERVICE, PUBLIC ASSEMBLY, VACANT, STORAGE / WAREHOUSE

  • Vineyard Theatre:

    Hmmm, Public Assembly? works for me.

    PUBLIC ASSEMBLY

  • Cafe 15:

    FOOD SERVICE

  • Vacant:

    VACANT

  • Loading Docks, Ambulance Entrance:

    Let’s say:

    STORAGE / WAREHOUSE

  • Rhyme and Reason Stationary:

    RETAIL (OTHER THAN MALL)

  • UPS Store:

    AVERAGE OF RETAIL, SERVICE

  • Game Stop:

    RETAIL (OTHER THAN MALL)

If we can produce a reasonable estimate of the square footage occupied by the above (except for Beth Israel), and subtract this from the square footage for the total building footprint for the 1st 5 floors, then the remainder, minus 300,000 square feet for Beth Israel can be confidently attributed as “Office” space, and/or “Public Assembly” space, given the specific zoning designations in the CO.

What has not been looked into yet is the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). Once the average square footage of each unit per floor is determined, we would similarly apply consumption per square foot data to these numbers.

Add everything up, and you will have a single, static, annual estimate for the entire building.

TO BE CONCLUDED . . .


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