Global Innovation Challenge to Decarbonize NYCHA Buildings Using New Heat Pump Electrification Tech

As Part of the Challenge, the Three Agencies Will Invest more than $263 Million to Advance Beneficial Electrification Solutions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Improve Occupancy Comfort

NEW YORK—Today, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), New York Power Authority (NYPA) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) launched the Clean Heat for All Challenge (#CleanHeat4All), an industry competition directed at heating and cooling equipment manufacturers to develop a new electrification product that can better serve the needs of existing multifamily buildings and hasten the transition to fossil-free heating sources. By leveraging NYCHA’s building portfolio, the Clean Heat for All Challenge is designed to spur innovation by positioning the Authority as an early adopter of this technology, providing public housing residents with access to clean sources of energy through engagement with service providers and manufacturers of heat pump technologies.

“As we continue to build back from the COVID pandemic, it’s critical that we achieve an equitable and green recovery that addresses deteriorating conditions at NYCHA,” Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin said. “I applaud NYSERDA, NYPA and NYCHA for this creative partnership that will address quality of life issues at NYCHA facilities while helping achieve New York’s ambitious clean energy and climate goals.”

“NYCHA is committed to fostering innovative technology solutions capable of improving the quality of life for our residents while reducing greenhouse gas emissions across our portfolio,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ. “We are thankful to our partners at NYSERDA and NYPA for sharing our vision for a clean energy future and look forward to the many creative ideas that will be spurred through this exciting initiative.”

“As climate change intensifies and becomes more common and potentially life threatening to New York City residents, electric heating and cooling systems that can be controlled by individual apartments can have a public health benefit and also be a win for climate and comfort,” said Interim NYPA President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll. “The heat pump projects enabled through this initiative, and the one beginning at 830 Amsterdam Ave., will serve as a model on how to creatively decarbonize high-rise residential buildings in New York City and other urban settings across the United States.”

“Through the Clean Heat for All Challenge, we are supporting innovation that has the potential to revamp the way apartments are heated and cooled, reduce emissions and provide a cost-effective solution that enhances the comfort of building residents, said NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen Harris. “Advancing new heat pump technology for large building types that serve low-income populations supports the State’s goal to ensure that all New Yorkers benefit from clean energy investments and NYSERDA is proud to partner with NYPA and NYCHA on this effort.”

“The Clean Heat for All Challenge is going to make a tangible difference for New Yorkers, extending well beyond NYCHA’s developments and into the air that we all breathe,” said NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner, RuthAnne Visnauskas. New York State law mandates that we move away from fossil fuels and binds us to an aggressive, ambitious timeline for carbon neutrality. I congratulate and thank Governor Hochul, NYSERDA, NYPA and NYCHA for taking us to this next step in the challenge to create clean retrofit technology that we can apply to all of our aging buildings. Our fight against the negative impact of climate change – and our future - depends upon partnerships like this one.”

“Increasing the sustainability of buildings is a significant part of meeting the City’s ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “We commend NYCHA, NYPA, and NYSERDA for pursuing innovative solutions for the high costs and complexity of current heating and cooling technologies, especially for retrofits, as the results of this RFP will be widely applicable to buildings in our own portfolio and pipeline.”

“The climate crisis is real and it is urgent, and that is why we must find innovative solutions to reduce carbon emissions from buildings across New York City,” said Dawn M. Pinnock, Acting Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “DCAS is proud to support the Clean Heat for All Challenge and to do its part to decarbonize the buildings and operations of New York City government.”

“I am happy to hear that NYPA, NYSERDA and NYCHA are continuing their commitment to our communities by providing public housing residents with access to clean sources of energy capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Senator Kevin Parker.

“This program announced today demonstrates our state’s commitment to finding innovative solutions to the complex challenges we face in reducing our emissions to meet our statewide emission reduction goals,” said Assemblymember Michael Cusick. “Our housing infrastructure contributes significantly to our statewide emissions and is in desperate need of upgrades. The Clean Heat for All Challenge will not only directly benefit NYCHA residents across the city but it will have a significant positive impact on our environment and our efforts to make our infrastructure green and energy efficient.”

"So much of the carbon emissions we produce is in the home,” said Boston Housing Authority Administrator Kate Bennett. “We’re proud to commend NYCHA’s efforts to modernize their communities and bring public housing towards a more sustainable future. Climate change is a challenge we’re working to address here in Boston, and it’s a challenge that every housing authority in the nation will need to meet.”

“As Canada’s largest social housing provider and a contemporary of the New York City Housing Authority, we applaud the Authority for taking the initiative to drive this change for the good of their tenants and the global climate,” said Jag Sharma, President and CEO of Toronto Community Housing Corporation. “We have actively pursued a strategy of retrofitting our portfolio of buildings to make heating and cooling more efficient, better serving the needs of tenants and reducing emissions. We’re excited to see the outcome of the Challenge and the ideas that it brings to bear on the issue of climate change.”

“Heating residential buildings through the use of fossil fuels is responsible for a massive amount of greenhouse emissions," said King County Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Norman. “We applaud NYCHA’s leadership in developing new heat pump technology that will provide energy-efficient options for both heating and cooling. This is a crucial step in reducing the carbon footprint of public housing and holds tremendous promise for our nation’s inventory of over one million federally subsidized housing units.”

The challenge calls upon manufacturers to develop a packaged cold climate heat pump that can be installed through an existing window opening to provide heating and cooling on a room-by-room basis. The envisioned product would enable rapid, low-cost electrification of multifamily buildings by reducing or eliminating many of the cost drivers inherent to existing heat pump technologies when used in resident occupied apartments. These include costly electrical upgrades, long refrigerant pipe runs, drilling through walls and floors and other construction aspects which result in high project costs, and significant disruption to residents.

The Clean Heat for All Challenge directly supports the goals of New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) and the New York City Climate Mobilization Act, which both call for greenhouse gas emissions from buildings to be reduced by 40 percent by the year 2030. The partnership between the New York City Housing Authority, New York Power Authority, and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and will test innovative products and proposals for cost-effective heating and cooling solutions for NYCHA building portfolio, which includes 2,198 residential dwelling buildings. Additionally, NYCHA, NYPA, and NYSERDA have also engaged with the Consortium of Energy Efficiency (CEE) to engage manufacturers and encourage broad industry participation in the Clean Heat for All Challenge.

The RFP issued by NYPA identifies a list of product specifications that manufacturers will be challenged to meet. To incentivize participation, NYCHA will commit to purchasing the first 24,000 units from the awarded vendor(s) that will be installed at six developments currently slated for heating plant replacement over the next five years. NYSERDA is supporting the effort by providing additional funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative operating plan, which calls for the electrification of heating in New York City public housing to improve energy performance, decrease emissions, and improve resident comfort. NYSERDA will provide assistance drafting the product specifications and performing commissioning as well as measurement and verification for the demonstration units. NYCHA will invest $250 million, in addition to the NYSERDA grant, to purchase and install the new equipment as well as provide additional improvements to the building envelopes and hot water systems.

The initiative is based on a similar product challenge that NYCHA and NYPA partnered on in the 1990s and which produced some of the first Energy Star rated refrigerators, reducing the energy use of refrigerators by over 50 percent.

If the technology developed from the Clean Heat for All Challenge is successful, NYCHA will deploy at more than 50,000 apartments over the next 10 years, to meet space heating and cooling needs with zero on-site emissions.

The type of solutions this initiative is seeking will be broadly applicable to the multifamily sector across the US Northeast. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) have already confirmed their strong interest in utilizing this new type of product for their preservation and new construction pipelines. In addition, NYCHA and NYSERDA are working together with other large public housing authorities and housing agencies in the US and Canada aggregate a larger potential demand. These new type of heat pumps will also be applicable for net zero carbon retrofits under NYSERDA’s RetrofitNY initiative. Through the RetrofitNY Pledge, building owners have already pledged to install cost effective net-zero carbon retrofit solutions in over 400,000 dwelling units when they become available.

NYCHA and NYPA are also partnering to replace the aging gas-and-oil-fueled heating and hot water systems at 830 Amsterdam Ave, a 20-story high-rise in Manhattan, with a high-efficient electric Variable Flow Refrigerant (VRF) heat pump system. The $28 million design-build electrification project will eliminate the use of on-site fossil fuel for heating and hot water while also providing central heating and cooling to 100 percent of apartments, replacing the old, inefficient window air conditioning units that have come to define many New York City-based facades.

This new and more efficient heating and hot water system will reduce local greenhouse gas emissions by more than 590 metric tons, the equivalent of removing approximately 130 cars from the road. The heat pump system, which would be the first of its kind at a public housing facility in New York State, will operate entirely on the grid without the need of a fossil fuel source. Once complete, residents will be able to individually control the temperature in each room of their apartment, a significant improvement over the current system, which does not provide any individual apartment temperature control.

NYCHA has been an energy customer of the Power Authority since 1996, partnering to complete $211 million in energy efficiency projects, saving $23 million annually and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75,000 tons a year—the equivalent of taking 14,800 cars off the road.


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