Key presentations are summarized here.
One of the main Conference presentations, 2022 NYC Construction Code Sidewalk Shed Requirements & Pedestrian Protection Updates by Constadino (Gus) Sirakis, P.E., M.ASCE, highlighted many of the points explored in the “Get Sheds Down.” article. (Photo: SKYlines)
Parking Structures: The Parallels of Code & Inspection
Presenter: DOB Assistant Commissioner for Engineering Services Jill Hrubecky, P.E.
The parking structures seminar drew an overflowing crowd that needed to be relocated to the main auditorium to accommodate the large number of registrants. Peter Oxenham, a longtime senior estimator with Skyline Restoration and a conference attendee, noted the topic’s pertinence to the industry saying, “Structural stability of existing parking structures has been of keen interest to the construction and restoration professional communities for many years in metropolitan New York, but only recently has the NYC DOB taken this work under its jurisdiction and addressed building code language for this sector.”
Garages came under the DOB’s governance due to increased awareness of the need to regulate parking structures to ensure public safety. Hrubecky noted that the DOB has devoted significant time and resources to analyze and collect critical data on the spaces. She said, “Class attendance today reflects the engineering and construction professional community’s interest and commitment in becoming a part of the solution for aging parking structures.”
Close to 4000 parking structures are located throughout the five boroughs, with 1410 in Manhattan alone. The breakdown of categories totals: 61% residential; 11% independent garage; 7% office; 4% store and 17% other including religious, cultural, and public assembly facilities and government buildings.
Since late 2021, DOB regulations governing NYC parking structures have come under the heading of Local Law 126 requiring owners of parking structures to hire a New York State licensed and registered P.E., designated as a Qualified Parking Structure Inspector (QPSI), to inspect garages at least once every six years. In addition, an annual observation must be performed by a non-professional chosen by the owner such as a garage attendant or building superintendent. Certain structures that house vehicles, including autobody or repair shops, showrooms, outdoor lots, private one to two-family garages – are exempted from the mandate.
The report of the QPSI inspection must be submitted to the DOB designating the site as Safe, Safe with Repair Monitoring (SREM), or Unsafe. Inspections must be competent, thorough, timely and include status reports and recommendations. The QPSI needs to create an Annual Observation checklist for subsequent yearly evaluations. While the annual observations need not be filed, the DOB and the owner must be notified immediately of any unsafe condition through the DOB website (DOB NOW) or by a 311 call. The owner needs to correct the condition within 90 days or request an extension.
Since late 2021, DOB regulations governing NYC parking structures have come under the heading of Local Law 126 requiring owners of parking structures to hire a New York State licensed and registered P.E., designated as a Qualified Parking Structure Inspector (QPSI), to inspect garages at least once every six years. (Photo: Adobe Stock)
The responsibility to repair always falls upon the owner, not the garage operator.
Cycles for QPSI inspections have 2-year sub cycles to file compliance reports grouped by community districts. Manhattan’s boroughs 1-7 fall under Cycle 1A which began January 1, 2022, and will conclude at the end of 2023. The window for Brooklyn and the remaining Manhattan districts is in Cycle 1B, which will run from the start of 2024 and finish by December 31, 2025. Districts in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island are in Cycle 1C which runs from January 1, 2026, through the end of 2027.
Inspections can be challenging if a parking structure is in a detached or rarely seen location, a basement of an office or residential building, a poorly lit space, or a rooftop. To ensure structural stability, any inspection needs to consider any degradation of materials such concrete, steel, and wood. Exposure to deicers, motor oil, and vehicular traffic and the elements can contribute to deterioration and, subsequently, destabilization. Early observation is key to the successful implementation of LL 126.
Hrubrecky noted in conclusion that the DOB seeks to expand its pool of inspectors. She hoped to encourage engineering professionals in attendance to apply for certification as a QPSI.🀰
Office of Alternative Energy – Facts, Functions and Resources
Presenters: Alan Price, P.E., director of the DOB Office of Technical Certification and Research and Steven Hong, R.A. administrative architect, DOB
The new Office of Alternative Energy (OAE) was formed because of Local Law 97 of 2019, a byproduct of the Climate Mobilization Act to increase sustainability of buildings, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The OAE is tasked with helping to develop renewable energy sources, streamlining the installation of Alternative Energy Projects (AEP), solving sustainable power generation issues, and improving energy storage systems (ESS) in NYC.
An Alternative Energy Project is key to sustainability as it generates power from a qualified renewable energy source such as biomass, geothermal, sunlight, water, or wind. The OAE assists in the review and approval of AEPs, sets guidelines, conducts research, and makes recommendations. The department encourages an open dialogue with stakeholders through “after hours” meetings to create a forum for new ideas to find solutions to sustainability in an urban setting.
One new OAE initiative has been aptly named “Get Stuff Built” to facilitate the removal of regulatory barriers that can stall projects and delay progress.
There is an urgent need for New York City to dramatically increase the rate of energy storage system installations at the building and grid infrastructure scale. Upcoming policies are geared to speed the work of a centralized Energy Storage System plan examination team. In addition, the team will coordinate with the FDNY to eliminate duplicate paperwork. Streamlining ESS development and implementation requires eliminating regulatory barriers, aligning code requirements with national standards along with permitting requirements for battery storage systems. Using ESS will further the City’s goal to reduce the aggregate greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and achieve a citywide reduction of 80% by 2050.
To have an Alternative Energy Project qualify as one that can benefit from city, state and federal incentives to utilize new technologies, a series of rules and regulations under LL 97 will be enforced in the construction of new buildings and the modification of existing structures, wherever feasible.
AEPs in the pipeline for development include:
• Renewable natural gas
• Carbon capturing technologies
• Reversible heat pumps
• Hydrogen technologies
• Solar panels
• Cogeneration systems
• Charging stations
Innovative technologies for appliances which comes under the City’s mandate for electrification, part of the December 2021 NYC Council legislation phasing out fossil fuels from new construction in 2024 with new buildings planned to be electrically powered.🀰
All Build Safe|Live Safe conference presentations can be found here.