A new investment by the state aims to make New York City public housing more environmentally friendly and effective for tenants. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday announced an initial investment of $70 million in a clean energy initiative to install 30,000 new heat pumps, considered more eco-friendly than traditional units, at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings across the city. The investment is part of the state’s Clean Heat for All Challenge, which launched in 2021 to spur ideas on how to revamp the way NYCHA units are heated and cooled.
The new window units will provide heating and cooling by moving heat between the indoor and outdoor spaces depending on the season, according to the governor. This is achieved through the “refrigeration cycle” which is more efficient than traditional heating systems like boilers and less reliant on fossil fuels to produce heat.
NYCHA residents will also be able to directly control the heating and cooling system. The public housing authority, the largest in the country with more than 330,000 residents, deals with heating and hot water outages every winter. In 2019, it was reported that old boilers were mostly to blame, with more than half of its 1,713 boilers more than 20 years old, as 6sqft reported at the time.
“New York is tackling the climate crisis and the need for affordable housing head on, and today we’re taking additional action through a transformative $70 million investment,” Hochul said in a statement.
“Prioritizing green investments in public housing ensures the State’s bold climate agenda is equitable – benefiting all New Yorkers now and for decades to come. All NYCHA residents deserve high quality homes and New York will continue to take aggressive measures to help ensure residents have the safe, livable, and quality affordable housing they deserve.”
The Clean Heat for All Challenge is an industry competition designed by NYCHA, New York Power Authority, and the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority to encourage heating and cooling equipment companies to develop new technologies that will better address the needs of public housing facilities and accelerate the adoption of fossil-free heating sources. Manufacturers Midea America and Gradient were selected by the state to develop the pumps.
Over the course of the next year, the Power Authority will work alongside Midea America and Gradient to develop and test the new heat pump technologies. The agency will then work with NYCHA to install 60 of the newly-developed units in selected public housing units where they will be monitored over the winter season.
Based on the results of the assessment, the agencies will move forward with the installation of 30,000 more units throughout the following years. Adams spoke about the importance of these new technologies in an official statement:
“Our administration is laser-focused on providing safe, high-quality, affordable housing for all New Yorkers, and today, we are delivering on a commitment in our housing blueprint that brings us one step closer. We understand better than ever that our city’s most pressing crises are interconnected, but the solutions can be too.”
The new heat pumps will reduce the costs of heating because their design removes many of the processes used by older heat pump systems, according to an official press release.
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