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PR- 359-09
August 5, 2009


Demonstration Project Expected to Reduce Electricity Usage by 2.25 Million Kwh/Year; Carbon Emissions Will Be Reduced by More Than 4,900 Tons per Year

$209 Million of the $423 Million in Federal Stimulus Funds for NYCHA Will Be Used for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Upgrades

Four New Green Contracts Totaling $28M Awarded at NYCHA Board Meeting Today

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea today unveiled NYCHA's new energy efficiency demonstration project at the Castle Hill Houses in the Bronx. By 2011, it will lower energy usage by 2.25 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 4,900 tons annually, and save $1.2 million a year. A focus of the new NYCHA Chairman and NYCHA Commissioner and Environmental Coordinator Margarita López, almost half of the $423 million in Federal stimulus funds NYCHA secured this spring will be used for energy efficiency and conservation upgrades. To start, the NYCHA Board today awarded four new contracts for energy efficiency and conservation. The Mayor and Chairman Rhea were joined at Castle Hill Houses by Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott; U.S. Housing and Urban Development Regional Deputy Director JoAnna Aniello; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Councilmember Annabel Palma; New York Power Authority Energy Services & Technology Senior Vice President Angelo Esposito; and Castle Hill Resident Association President Roxanne Reed.

"This project at Castle Hill will serve as the model through which NYCHA anticipates realizing significant reductions in its utility costs and carbon footprint," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "Our commitment to preserving public housing goes far beyond the infrastructure of our buildings, the landscaping of our grounds, and the replacing of elevators.  By managing energy and utility costs more effectively, we are also improving residents' comfort and quality of life, while making our apartments more efficient for residents."

"The energy efficiency project at Castle Hill is not only a model that we are looking to implement across NYCHA, but one which we encourage housing authorities across the nation to replicate," said NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea. "On top of significant cost and energy savings, NYCHA will benefit by being able to utilize the freed-up funding which can be used for much-needed repairs and ongoing maintenance at developments across the City."

"Completing this work will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4,900 tons per year - the equivalent of removing 814 cars from the road or returning 31 acres of forest back to nature," said NYCHA Board Member and Environmental Coordinator Margarita López.  "We will see a reduction of the equivalent of 459,000 gallons in heating fuel usage annually and a reduction in electricity usage of 2.25 million kilowatt hours annually, leading to a reduction in greenhouse gases and significant energy savings."

"This is a wonderful day for both New York City and the residents of the New York City Housing Authority," said HUD Regional Deputy Director JoAnna Aniello. "It is no secret how important the 'greening' of public housing is to both President Obama and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, and that is why the Recovery Act provides billions of dollars to create green jobs retrofitting public housing. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYCHA Chair John Rhea should be praised for continuing to lead the nation in modernizing public housing. The 'greening' of Castle Hill Houses in the Bronx is a perfect example of their work and effort in accomplishing both tasks."

NYCHA's partner and project manager in this venture is the New York Power Authority, which conducted an energy audit at Castle Hill, identified opportunities for improvements, and is overseeing the implementation of the work.

"The heating system and lighting upgrade at Castle Hill Houses is the latest of the wide-ranging energy efficiency measures that the Power Authority has undertaken with New York City to lower electric and fuel bills of public facilities by some $70 million a year," said New York Power Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel. "Under the direction of Governor Paterson, and working closely with Mayor Bloomberg and his team, we've been stepping up our investments in clean energy technologies to maximize savings to taxpayers while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the reliability of the electric power system. The retrofit at Castle Hill, which we expect to complete by early next year, will crystallize these benefits."   

"NYCHA's model for retrofitting existing multi-family dwellings to make them greener is part of PlaNYC's goal of reducing our city's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030," said Office of Long Term Sustainability and Planning Director Rohit Aggarwala. "The work being done at Castle Hill Houses demonstrates that retrofitting existing buildings can result in lower maintenance charges, and is part of a larger effort to retrofit buildings across the city."

"This American Recovery Act-funded project will create new, green jobs in the Bronx - cleaning up the air and making Castle Hill an even better place to live," said Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY).

"With nearly a half-million residents, NYCHA developments make up a significant portion of New York City's housing stock," said Speaker Christine C. Quinn.  "Embracing green technologies will cut costs and significantly reduce NYCHA's carbon footprint, a critical step toward improving both the health of residents and the long-term financial health of the authority."

"Throughout my career, the environment has been a major priority of mine, and I am happy to see this great green initiative is being moved forward," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.  "In my inaugural address, I specifically mentioned the need to retrofit our older buildings with green technology to make them more environmentally friendly, and I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for taking this first strong step towards that goal right here in the Bronx. Building on this program, I look forward to the day when every NYCHA building has a 'green' roof, and I will partner with Mayor Bloomberg and other City agencies to make that dream a reality."

"Moving NYCHA toward energy efficiency will be very effective at easing one of the financial burdens on the authority," said City Council Housing and Buildings Committee Chair Erik Martin-Dilan.  "The more we can cut costs, the more we can invest in capital improvements, something that is long overdue for NYCHA residents."

"By reducing the carbon footprint of the 2,025 units at the Castle Hill Houses, these environmentally sound strategies will be an important step toward a greener, healthier, and more sustainable New York City," said Council Member Annabel Palma.  "These upgrades are a win-win situation: they not only have a projected cost savings of $1.2 million per year, but they will also create resident employment opportunities and address the financial concerns related to rising utility rates."

As part of President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, NYCHA received $423 million of stimulus funds, of which approximately $209 million will be used for energy efficiency and conservation upgrades that will improve the quality of life for NYCHA's residents.  At today's Board meeting, resolutions were passed awarding four new energy conservation contracts totaling $28 million for the purchase of energy efficient refrigerators for developments throughout the five boroughs; roof replacement at the Mott Haven Houses in the Bronx; a new green roofing system that will reduce heating and cooling loads at Corsi Houses Community Center in Manhattan; and roof replacement and related work at Wyckoff Gardens in Brooklyn.

Castle Hill Houses, a 14-building development with 2,025 apartments, built by the State in 1960, has long incurred excessive energy and water costs- $51 more per household each month than most other NYCHA developments.  There is no dedicated funding for utilities at NYCHA's State-built developments, and utility costs at Castle Hill have grown from $4.4 million in 2004 to $7 million in 2008. NYCHA intends to make energy costs manageable and to reduce the total carbon footprint of 45.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide generated annually at Castle Hill Houses.

Costs for the green improvements at Castle Hill amount to $25 million and are being shared by the City and Federal governments in a 60-40 split.

While the primary purposes of this project are to reduce NYCHA's operating expenses while improving quality of life for residents, the project also provides 11 green-collar jobs for qualified NYCHA residents, including two project field coordinators; two steam fitters; one painter; three laborers; and three electricians.  The four green contracts approved by the NYCHA board this morning will create another 12 green-collar jobs for NYCHA residents.

Work at Castle Hill Houses began in July 2008 to replace eight 45-year old boilers with five new high-efficiency units; install one duplex instantaneous hot water heater in each building; repair the underground steam mains; and to supply new common space lighting with 4,108 high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures in hallways, stairwells, lobbies, the development's management office, and the community center.  NYCHA will also replace incandescent light bulbs with 17,414 compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in apartments and 13,559 electrical fixtures. Next steps in the project include installing new apartment light fixtures in the kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and entryways with CFLs; replacing apartment radiator valves and traps; and installing new indoor temperature sensors.  All work is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2010.

As NYCHA celebrates its 75th anniversary of public housing in New York City, it remains committed to preserving its housing stock and safeguarding a proud legacy.  That includes maintaining and modernizing its buildings, delivering important social services, recreational and educational programs, and providing job training initiatives, despite difficult decades that saw public housing in major American cities suffer.  Since 2002, NYCHA's Capital Projects Unit has installed 130 new roofs at a cost of $227 million; 71 boilers and heating upgrades for $82 million; upgraded the grounds at 77 developments at a cost of $100 million; spent $289 million at 122 developments to replace bricks; invested $96 million to replace elevators at 41 developments; renovated apartments at 131 developments for $136 million; and spent $13 million to install closed-circuit television to help deter crime at 55 developments.

NYCHA's Seven-Point Green Agenda and Initiatives

NYCHA Board Member and Environmental Coordinator Margarita López developed an agency-wide Green Committee, which has formulated NYCHA's Seven-Point Green Agenda. The agenda includes the establishment of green partnerships to leverage resources and networks that include partners like The Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI); Ameresco, Inc.; Citi; Con Edison; F.A. Bartlett Trees; Horticultural Society of NY; HSBC; New York Restoration Project; Public Energy Solutions; RelightNY; and Trees New York,  The agenda also calls for: implementation of a $369 million first-phase Building Retrofit Program designed to efficiently procure and implement energy-efficient technologies in New York City's public housing portfolio; planting an additional 7,000 trees on its grounds under Mayor Bloomberg's MillionTreesNYC, which is a component of PlaNYC; replacing standard light bulbs with CFLs, which will reduce utility costs by 15 percent; the creation of green jobs to allow public housing residents to earn a salary while learning new skills' a lecture and mentoring series that introduces teenagers who live in public housing to environmental and green careers; and increased resident awareness and participation in the green agenda raising overall awareness about energy conservation and its connection to global warming.

Green Jobs

NYCHA's green agenda includes a green job component to allow public housing residents to earn a salary while learning new skills that promote environmentally friendly living conditions.  This is being achieved through the following initiatives: 

  • Contractors hired for major capitol improvements and energy- efficiency upgrades will be required to actively recruit and hire NYCHA residents.
  • The MillionTreesNYC initiative now includes an apprenticeship component for New York City youth, including NYCHA residents, which will instruct participants in supporting the long-term maintenance and stewardship of newly planted trees.
  • The partnership with the New York Restoration Project will offer a certificate program in horticulture and seasonal job opportunities for NYCHA residents.
  • Electrician's helper jobs are being created for installation of CFLs.
  • NYCHA's green-collar job efforts will also mandate that contractors actively recruit from the resident population to staff lighting retrofit crews. More than two dozen residents have already been hired as members of apartment lighting teams.

Green committees are being formed at each NYCHA development. As of the end of April, 22 NYCHA developments had formed green committees under the leadership of Board Member López. Development green committees are being charged to take the lead in teaching residents about the benefits of adopting behaviors that support energy conservation in their individual apartments as well as in their developments.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

Howard Marder   (NYC Housing Authority)
(212) 306-3322

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