Combined heat and power (CHP) microturbines are generators that produce electricity for a building. Similar to the way a car engine will heat up when working, these generators get hot. CHP microturbines capture and use this heat to regulate the building's temperature, produce electricity, or heat water. Energy-efficient microturbines can save money. Plus, they reduce strain on the City's electrical grid, meaning buildings are more efficient and emit less carbon.
When you consider installing a microturbine, speak with a New York State licensed professional engineer with an expertise in CHP systems.
CHP microturbines are typically the size of a refrigerator and can be installed on a rooftop or in a mechanical equipment room. Because they can add a substantial load to the structure and require professional installation, the Department of Buildings, Fire Department and the property’s utility company must approve and/or issue permits for the project before work begins. The Rules of the City of New York, Title 1, Chapter 50 provides complete requirements regarding microturbine installation.
Department of Buildings Requirements
As with most construction projects, the Department of Buildings requires work permits to install a microturbine. Specifically, this work must have construction, plumbing and electrical permits. DOB Rule 50-01 outlines microturbine technical requirements. Because proper maintenance is crucial, the Department also requires the property owner to have a service contract with the manufacturer or a service company that the manufacturer recommends. Maintenance contracts must be in place through the life of the microturbine.
Fire Department Requirements
The Fire Department also regulates microturbines and has requirements to ensure their safe operation. The property owner must have a Fire Department permit to operate these generators. One individual who will be at the building during business hours must have an FDNY Certificate of Fitness, which indicates he or she is trained by the manufacturer to properly shut down the equipment in an emergency. Finally, the Fire Department must approve the fire alarm system.
Utility Company Approval
The property owner must obtain a letter of approval from the utility company serving the building. The letter must indicate that the owner may install and operate a microturbine at the property, the system can operate on the gas network and it will produce adequate power. To request a letter of approval, property owners must consult the utility company regarding the characteristics of existing gas and electrical service to the site before installing the microturbine system. The property owner must provide the letter of approval to the Department of Buildings prior to plan approval.