NYCHA Deploys First Renewable Energy Solution for 25% Savings

By Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Team on May 02, 2017

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is the largest public housing authority in the United States, providing housing to 400,000 New Yorkers in 2,550 buildings. NYCHA is committed to energy efficiency improvements portfolio-wide, but every journey starts with a single step. 344 East 28th Street, NYCHA’s first Better Buildings Showcase Project, is also the authority’s first deployment of a renewable energy technology.

All of the residents of the 26-story, 225-unit building – located in Manhattan’s Kip’s Bay neighborhood – are classified as low- or extremely-low-income. The $2.2 million lighting, heating, and hot water modernization project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and an NYC capital grant. The project was a combination of building upgrades and in-unit fixture upgrades. The building showed 23 percent energy savings in 2015, and is on track to achieve 25 percent in 2017 – that’s $113,600 a year saved.  

344 East 28th Street was using 28 percent more energy than the average NYC multifamily building. It is also one of 16 NYCHA properties that uses district steam to provide heat and hot water. By installing a ground source heat pump system (GSHP), NYCHA achieved a 55 percent reduction in the energy needed for heating domestic water. This system provided hot water to apartments more effectively, and without the high standing losses incurred by the old hot water tanks.

NYCHA also installed temperature sensors in every apartment, along with new radiator valves and steam taps. These new controls improved performance 10 percent by eliminating waste caused by overheating, which also improved resident comfort.

Basic lighting upgrades at the property included:

  • Upgrading common area T12 fluorescents to T8s and adding new high-efficiency electronic ballasts;
  • Upgrading exit signs to LED; and
  • Replacing kitchen lighting fixtures and distributing CFL bulbs.

NYCHA isn’t done yet, though. They’re also considering a pilot initiative addressing the ever-wasteful, near-ubiquitous use of window air conditioners, as well as cogeneration projects at six developments to incorporate Combined Heat and Power (CHP) into buildings serviced by district steam.

NYCHA published its first energy data display in 2017 and has achieved 4 percent of its ambitious energy savings goals. NYCHA joined the Better Buildings Challenge in 2016 with a commitment to retrofit all master-planned developments by 2025, covering 175 million square feet. These developments account for 87 percent of NYCHA’s apartments and consume 40 percent more energy per square foot than the average multifamily building in New York City.

This is only a high-level look at all the amazing work NYCHA undertook at 344 East 28th Street. For more information, please check out the showcase project in the Better Buildings Solution Center!