NYPA Launches Challenge For Innovative Heat Pump

December 21, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
December 21, 2021

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), New York Power Authority (NYPA) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) on Dec. 20 launched 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.

“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,” NYPA said.

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.

NYCHA, NYPA, and NYSERDA have also engaged with the Consortium of Energy Efficiency to engage manufacturers and encourage broad industry participation in the Clean Heat for All Challenge.

The request for proposals 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 or vendors 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 Northeast, NYPA said.

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and New York State Homes and Community Renewal 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 U.S. and Canada to 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 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. Once complete, residents will be able to individually control the temperature in each room of their apartment.

NYCHA has been an energy customer of NYPA 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.