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NYCHA on the Leading Edge of Community Sustainability

By David Ruggiero, ICF on Sep 26, 2018

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has hit the ground running in an effort to meet the goals set forth in its 2016 NextGeneration Sustainability Agenda – a set of sustainability commitments to improve resident health and comfort over the next 10 years. As a Better Buildings Challenge partner, NYCHA has shared its innovative approach to creating a comprehensive sustainability plan and continues to demonstrate the value of community partnerships. NYCHA’s latest achievement comes in the form of community solar infrastructure, further uniting NYCHA and the community it serves together and opening the door for small businesses to take part in greater sustainability benefits.

As part of its ambitious Sustainability Agenda, NYCHA is moving forward with its commitment to site 25 MW of renewable energy capacity on its properties by 2025. Through NYCHA’s ACCESSolar program, which stands for “Accelerating Community Empowered Shared Solar”, NYCHA is making sure that small businesses and non-profit organizations in their communities directly benefit from NYCHA’s solar commitment.

“NYCHA has a long history of using our scale and capital programs to provide job opportunities in NYCHA communities,” said Deborah Goddard, Executive Vice President for Capital Projects. “By unlocking the solar development potential of NYCHA’s small buildings, ACCESSolar provides an unprecedented growth opportunity to small solar businesses, which we hope will result in career-path green jobs for NYCHA residents.”

Rooftops made available through ACCESSolar generally have 40 kW or less of solar capacity per rooftop – the right size for a small start-up or non-profit project. NYCHA is now evaluating applications for the first five teams to participate in ACCESSolar. The program website and application can be found here.

The progress on ACCESSolar is hot on the heels of NYCHA’s recent successes in securing financing for Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs), another component of their Sustainability Agenda. NYCHA set a goal of raising $300 million in private financing for energy efficiency upgrades through EPCs by 2025. In 2017 NYCHA closed on two EPCs worth $103 million combined and in June 2018 received HUD approval for a third EPC worth $104 million. These contracts will further improve energy efficiency across NYCHA’s portfolio, substantially reducing energy costs for both the city and residents.

For more information about NYCHA’s latest EPC, check out the implementation model, Portfolio-Wide Capital and Energy Planning, on the Better Buildings Solutions Center. These programs were developed in part using technical assistance that NYCHA received in 2016 under the HUD Renew300 program.