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To Save or To Sell: A Vital Question for Landlords to Maximize ROI

NYC landlords discover that switching to solar puts them in a win-win situation

Save or sell. That’s the tough yet welcome dilemma faced by landlords, now that solar energy production has become the norm for new developments and existing properties alike in New York City.

New building and emissions standards mean all residential and commercial properties over 25,000 square feet – that’s roughly 50,000 existing buildings in New York – must reduce their emissions 40 percent by 2030.

It’s a tall order, but landlords are discovering that making the switch to green energy is simple, affordable, and even profitable. So much so, that city property owners who have already made the switch are choosing between extremely lucrative alternatives.

“We ended up hiring OnForce Solar,” Town of Clarkstown Councilman told The Real Deal. “They were able to tap into about $2 million in subsidies from the state of New York. In addition to that, there were federal and state tax credits that we were able to tap into.”

Meanwhile, a New York City based real estate investment and asset management company, choosing to sell the energy from their solar projects, reported it is now underway on their third profit generating project with OnForce Solar. The real estate firm manages a growing portfolio of commercial properties in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. OnForce is a Manhattan-based solar energy firm that helps landlords capitalize on often underutilized rooftop space. 

Launched in 2008, OnForce Solar is now the city’s premier developer, designer and manager of solar energy systems in the NYC, New Jersey and Westchester areas, having built more than 25 megawatts of solar. OnForce is the NorthEast division of 174 Power Global, an international organization with financial strength and stability from a trusted, bankable FORTUNE Global 500 company.

The real estate firm’s first project with OnForce converted an unused 30,000 square foot rooftop on 136th Street in the Port Morris section of the Bronx into a 190 kilowatt Community Solar Farm – only the second of its kind in the borough. It took OnForce Solar under one year, from the time the project was green lighted in 2017 to the moment it was unveiled in 2018, to install 560 solar panels to the roof’s sun facing side.

The conversion was so successful that OnForce was brought back to tackle a much larger property. This time OnForce built a 1.1 megawatt, 3,000 panel solar farm on a 115,000 square foot rooftop on Commerce Avenue in the Bronx. Completed last year, the project now produces energy for 136 local subscribers.

The energy from these two projects generates approximately $1 per square foot in annual energy revenue for the owner. Better still, the community subscribers who purchase the redistributed green energy, receive a 10 percent discount on their electric bills – a major benefit for underserved areas.

“OnForce Solar was very proactive in their management of the project and demonstrated their expertise throughout the process,” the property owner said. “The installation team was very professional, courteous and completed the project successfully without interrupting our warehouse operations as promised. I strongly recommend OnForce to anyone selecting a solar energy company.”

But, while selling back energy to the community may be an appealing prospect, other landlords are choosing to more directly minimize their operational costs instead.

For example, it takes a lot of energy to operate a large-scale food and beverage distribution center. In fact, one of the country’s largest beer and beverage distributors tapped OnForce to help get their utility costs under control.

They have now completed three turnkey solar design and installation projects with OnForce. Just one of those projects — a 1.1 megawatt, 3,531 solar panels roof in the Bronx — produces 1.25 million kilowatt hours of clean energy each year. That’s enough electricity to offset 95 percent of the building’s total energy consumption. But more to the point, solar is saving the company more than $7 million on electricity at that facility alone, and avoiding 1,019,565 pounds of coal burned over the course of the system’s 25 year lifespan.

“OnForce conducted themselves in the highest of professional manners,” the landlord said. “Their submittals were accurate, timely, and organized. Their understanding of the requirements and restrictions clearly indicated their comprehensive understanding of the trade. Inspections and commissioning went smoothly with not one problem. We look forward to working with OnForce again.”

Talk to an expert about how to maximize your property’s value by adding solar to underutilized spaces like rooftops and parking lots.