Reader Profile: Steve DeStefano

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The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York is world renowned for its cultural offerings. Recently, it gained attention for another distinction: its environmental efforts. The Association of Energy Engineers recognized the Lincoln Center with the 2018 U.S. Region I Corporate Energy Management Award.

Through its participation in New York State’s Demand Management Program, the Center has been able to reduce the strain on New York City’s electrical grid. By turning off noncritical equipment and lighting, raising space temperatures, and running back-up generators, the Center was able to shed electric load during times of peak electricity demand.

The Center also has reduced carbon emissions by more than 100 million pounds over three years by using 100 percent renewable energy. That includes the purchase of wind energy from the Green Mountain Energy Company. In fact, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has been named a 100 percent Green Power User by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. Other initiatives include adding sustainable roofs and green spaces and installing a solar panel array.

Going forward, plans for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts include reducing electricity consumption by 2.15 million kilowatt-hours through lighting retrofits and improving pump motor efficiency, among other initiatives.

Leading the Center’s efforts in energy efficiency, sustainability and reliability is Steve DeStefano, CEM, LEED AP, who serves as senior director for operations and facility services. Throughout the years, DeStefano has help the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in its myriad sustainability efforts, which have dovetailed with the municipal goals of New York City as well as those of the state of New York.

What He Does Day to Day
Each day, DeStefano carries out the duties related to his position as facility and operation services for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts campus, introducing innovations to the iconic 16.3-acre campus, which is home to 11 resident arts organizations and 30 indoor and outdoor facilities. His duties entail directing and coordinating the activities of the engineering department and contract services to operate and maintain power plant and related facility, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.

“Energy and sustainability are at the forefront of our mission to protect the environment within New York City,” he says. “I continue to manage utility procurement, reduce electricity usage during peak demands and improve facilities through energy conservation measures.”

What Led Him into This Line of Work
DeStefano says he was led into the energy industry through a desire to be “hands-on in wanting to understand how things worked.” He attended the Lyons Institute of Technology, concentrating his studies on HVAC and electrical systems. After completing his studies there, DeStefano began working in the private sector in a variety of positions at Honeywell, including service system specialist, operations team lead, performance contracting account representative, technical resource manager, region supply management leader, and project manager.

He joined the staff of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 2013, first as director of engineering and facility services and then as senior director for operations and facility services. “I began my career in the HVAC business almost 32 years ago and expanded into the growing market of energy services,” he says. “This was the beginning of understanding how to improve systems and facilities in need of capital dollars through the reduction of energy costs. As technology improved and more data was analyzed, it continued to fuel my interest in improving the environment in which we live.”

What He Likes Best About His Work
“Utilizing my years of experience to manage a plan to improve and protect the environment at the most recognizable performing arts center in the world” gives DeStefano his greatest sense of satisfaction about his line of work, he notes.

His Greatest Challenge
DeStefano points out that his challenges are not unique compared to any other not-for-profit organization with limited resources. “While this is always a challenge, we have found incentive programs to help reduce the capital and operational dollars required to implement our programs,” he says. “I take pride in reducing operational expenses within the utility budgets in order to support the programs of resident arts organizations.”

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