NYCHA buildings getting energy efficiency upgrades

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Nearly 300 New York City Housing Authority developments will be upgraded and retrofitted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate cost savings with at least $100 million in work through a series of Energy Performance Contracts, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced last Thursday.

Facilitated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the upgrades are part of the mayor’s commitment to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The reduction in consumption will also help NYCHA mitigate the impact of rising utility costs to save funds for other building upgrades and repairs.

Utility costs for water, electricity and heat in NYCHA developments have increased 64 percent over the last ten years even though consumption has only increased 9 percent, so the upgrades planned include energy-saving measures for heating plants and distribution, as well as the installation of energy efficient lighting.

The Request for Proposal, released today, will try to find energy services companies that maximize energy savings and cost savings throughout 50 percent of NYCHA’s properties, 89 developments encompassing 87,000 apartments and representing more than 200,000 residents. Currently, the annual utility cost for these developments is almost $300 million. Subsequent RFPs will seek bids for additional properties, for up to 300 NYCHA developments. In the mayor’s green buildings plan, the city has committed to retrofitting all public buildings with significant energy use by 2025 and public housing is a key component to the plan.

The EPC will allow the housing authority to save on energy and water without providing the upfront capital dollars because the energy services company selected will implement conservation methods that provide a guarantee of energy savings, which enables NYCHA to secure a loan to cover the costs of installation. This will result in additional cash flow to help repay the loan.

“It is imperative that we use every opportunity to fund building improvements at NYCHA without increasing the existing capital deficit of billions of dollars,” Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen said. “The Energy Performance Contracts do just that, allowing for upgrades that will benefit the Authority’s bottom line in the long term while contributing to major reductions in emissions and creating quality green jobs.”

The housing authority expects to pick an energy services company from the RFP by this summer and begin construction by next summer.

NYCHA has previous implemented an EPC for energy savings. In 2000, the authority installed a heating system and energy efficient lighting retrofits at five developments through a $15 million EPC, which has saved almost $14 million. NYCHA also launched an $18 million EPC at 17 developments to complete energy efficient retrofits as well as apartment temperature sensors, heating plant replacement and instantaneous water heaters at six additional developments, with construction to be completed in early summer.

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