Press Release

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NYCHA Announces First-ever Comprehensive Sustainability Agenda for Healthy & Energy-Efficient Public Housing

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Outlines Commitments for Curbing Impacts of Climate Change, Achieving City’s Environmental Goals, and Guaranteeing Healthy Homes for Residents

Agenda Includes New Sustainability Standards and Incentives, Plans for Building Green Infrastructure, Enhanced Green Jobs Programs for Residents, Comprehensive Retrofits, and Solar Power Installations

NEW YORK— Today, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) unveiled its Sustainability Agenda, a ten-year roadmap for creating healthy and comfortable housing that will withstand the challenge of climate change. As the largest public housing authority in the country, the Sustainability Agenda marks the first time in NYCHA’s history the Authority has developed an integrated plan focused on environmental health, green building and operations, and climate change adaptation and resiliency. The sustainability roadmap is a central strategy of NextGeneration NYCHA, the Authority’s long-term strategic plan to become a more efficient and effective landlord, in order to improve the quality of life for NYCHA residents.

Focusing on resident health and working hand-in-hand with community partners, NYCHA has committed to the following goals by 2025:
  • Work to achieve City’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases 80% by 2050
  • Integrate resiliency and climate change adaptation into capital planning
  • Incorporate sustainability into daily management and operations
  • Systemically eliminate the root causes of mold by fixing leaks in roofs, facades, pipes and modernizing ventilation systems
  • Ensure consistent heat and hot water (prevent unplanned outages and overheating)
The Sustainability Agenda includes 17 targeted strategies, which are meaningful ways NYCHA plans to meet the de Blasio administration’s emission-reduction goals (One City: Built to Last) and resiliency and sustainability objectives (OneNYC.)  The plan also outlines NYCHA’s commitment to federal sustainability goals, including a pledge to develop 25 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2025 as part of Renew300, a joint HUD-DOE initiative. NYCHA has also committed to participate in HUD’s Better Buildings Challenge to cut energy intensity in the Authority’s buildings portfolio-wide by 20% over the next decade.

“A safe, clean, and healthy home is the right of every individual regardless of zip code,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “As we work to curb the impacts of climate change across our communities, NYCHA’s Sustainability Agenda furthers our commitment to improving quality of life for residents and preserving public housing for this and the next generation.”

NYCHA residents and its infrastructure face serious health and safety risks from the environmental impacts of climate change. The goal of the Sustainability Agenda is to stem the effects of climate change, while also creating healthy and comfortable homes for residents through 17 targeted strategies.

Read the full Sustainability Agenda here.

Complete list of Strategies:

Strategy 1: Attract investment for capital improvements through Energy Performance Contracts and energy-efficiency incentive programs.

Strategy 2: Raise revenues through clean and distributed energy projects through partnerships to develop commercial-scale solar and a campus-scale microgrid at Red Hook Houses East and West.

Strategy 3: Create healthy indoor environments with a comprehensive mold response plan; require low- and no-VOC caulks, paints, coatings, and adhesives; utilize Integrated Pest Management; reduce exposure to second-hand smoke; and follow a healthy home-focused vacancy turnover protocol.

Strategy 4: Efficiently provide comfortable and reliable heat and hot water through smart building technology, performance testing and fine-tuning, and enhanced training and professional development of heating operations staff.

Strategy 5: Improve water management by working with DEP to meter all developments by 2018; studying the patterns of water use to identify conservation opportunities; updating purchasing standards, and installing water-efficient fixtures.

Strategy 6: Adopt comprehensive waste management plan by promoting recycling across NYCHA and studying waste composition to implement targeted diversion programs.

Strategy 7: Adopt sustainability standards for all new construction projects using the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria and pursue aggressive minimum energy performance standard for all rehabilitation projects.

Strategy 8: Eliminate roof, façade, and plumbing leaks by seeking funds for roofs, exterior repairs and interior plumbing upgrades.

Strategy 9: Retrofit master-planned developments, each home to an average of 2,700 residents, through a series of HUD Energy Performance Contracts to provide more effective lighting, heating, water conservation, and ventilation systems.

Strategy 10: Retrofit scattered-site developments, including stand-alone buildings and 1-4 family homes, through the NYS Weatherization Assistance Program and utility-run energy-efficiency programs to provide greater energy and water efficiency.

Strategy 11: Build green infrastructure in partnership with DEP at NYCHA developments within the Combined Sewer Overflow priority areas, and seek funds to implement the “Stormwater Management Through Placemaking” initiative at Superstorm Sandy-affected developments.

Strategy 12: Incorporate climate change resiliency into capital planning by developing specific resiliency retrofit plans for all developments in the 100-year floodplain, and identifying and assessing hazards associated with climate change.

Strategy 13: Support resident- and community-led sustainability by launching an “ideas marketplace” for resident- and community-led sustainability initiatives, strengthening Resident Green Committees, and promoting healthy food access through resident-led urban agriculture.

Strategy 14: Connect residents to green jobs by enhancing existing job-training programs to better prepare residents for work in energy, and use NYCHA’s purchasing power to create resident-owned business opportunities.

Strategy 15: Create an 80 x 50 roadmap by 2017 to ensure NYCHA meets the OneNYC emissions-reduction targets, including a 30% reduction by 2025, which NYCHA expects to achieve, and another 50% reduction by 2050, which NYCHA is studying how best to achieve.

Strategy 16: Create incentives to encourage new low-energy buildings by working with HPD to favor new construction proposals that commit to ultra-low-energy buildings.

Strategy 17: Test “deep” energy retrofits – or wholesale systems replacements and upgrades – through pilot programs that will identify test cases for such upgrades, and launch a “Call for Innovations” to solicit promising ideas.

“As New York’s largest housing provider and the largest public housing authority in the nation, it is imperative that NYCHA lead by example to combat the threats of climate change,” said NYCHA Vice President for Energy and Sustainability Bomee Jung. “The Sustainability Agenda – the first comprehensive plan for NYCHA – is our roadmap for guaranteeing healthy, safe, and sustainable public housing built to last.”

“NYCHA’s Sustainability Agenda is a major turning point for public housing, and for New York City. Who better than NYCHA to show that sustainability is the right of all New Yorkers?” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “I look forward to working with NYCHA on pulling off this bold plan, and to the years of lowered greenhouse gas emissions, residents who will be trained and eligible for green jobs, dropping asthma rates, on-site urban farms and residents with healthy futures.”

“Hurricane Sandy left tens of thousands of NYCHA residents without power, heat, or water for weeks, highlighting the disproportionate impacts climate change can have on New York City’s most vulnerable communities,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer.  “NYCHA’s new sustainability and resiliency agenda is a game-changer for the future of public housing in the City.  Not only will it make NYCHA buildings more resilient in the face of unplanned power, water, and heat outages during extreme weather, this new plan supports the Mayor’s effort to combat climate change, while also creating healthier, safer, and more connected communities. This visionary program will improve the lives of NYCHA residents across the city.”

“We all have a moral obligation to protect our environment for generations to come,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “We must take steps to reduce negative environmental impact by changing our consumption habits and adopting more sustainable practices, which is why I introduced legislation to incentivize recycling in NYCHA residences. NYCHA’s Sustainability Agenda will go a long way in improving the lives of tenants, protecting the environment and ensuring a healthy New York City for our children and grandchildren.”

"Sustainability lies at the very core of a public housing authority remade for the 21st century,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the City Council Public Housing Committee. “The three-billion dollars in FEMA funding and the 100-million dollars in Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) represent a historic occasion to make NextGen's vision of sustainability a reality and green public housing on a scale never seen before.  ‎I applaud the leadership of NYCHA for developing a comprehensive plan that seizes the moment."

"Unfortunately, those who are most adversely affected by the negative impacts of climate change are families who are most in need,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the City Council Environmental Protection Committee. “This Earth Day, we are taking steps to make our NYCHA facilities, which encompass much of our flood-zones and damaged shorelines, more sustainable and resilient.  The NYCHA Sustainability Agenda will help improve air quality, make the heating systems more efficient, and test new retrofitting technologies.  These efforts will bring us closer toward our goal of reducing our carbon emissions 80% by 2050.  I commend NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye for her leadership on this important issue."

“In order for New York City to lead the globe in the effort to combat climate change, every agency needs to think about sustainability and energy efficiency with every project now and in the future, which is why it is so important that NYCHA ensures that residents live in safe, reliable and healthy homes,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “Eliminating the causes of mold and overheating and unplanned heat and hot water outages and accounting for climate adaptation and resiliency in all capital planning will ensure that NYCHA does its part to protect its residents, as well as doing its part to advance OneNYC. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio and NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye for their commitment to protecting New Yorkers from the threats of climate change.”

"The Housing Authority faces enormous, long-standing challenges in reducing climate change pollution and making our communities more resilient, ensuring residents are protected from toxins and other hazards through high environmental health standards, and eliminating waste and inefficiency that damage the environment and increase costs," said Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Chair of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators, who represents thousands of NYCHA residents. "Too often in the past, public housing has been left out of these kinds of efforts. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Chair Olatoye for laying out a plan to rectify this and bring NYCHA into the twenty-first century. I look forward to working with them to ensure that we achieve real, lasting change."

"I am encouraged to see that NYCHA is putting policies forward that make environmental and economic sense,” said Assembly Member Latrice Walker, Chair of the New York State Assembly Sub-Committee on Renewable Energy. “I look forward to working with the Housing Authorities on even more innovative ideas that will give residents the 21st-century services that they deserve.”

“This forward-thinking plan establishes New York City as the nation’s leader in planning for increased energy efficiency and greater sustainability in public housing,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. “I commend Mayor de Blasio and NYCHA for working to ensure that the residents of public housing live in environmentally clean and efficient homes and communities and our city is prepared to meet the challenges of climate change.”

“NYCHA’s focus on sustainability is key to improving the health outcomes of both their residents and of all New Yorkers,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez. “We hope to see increased investment from all levels of government to support these initiatives, and provide safer and more resilient homes for our NYCHA residents.”

"We commend NYCHA for creating and adopting this bold new plan to ensure that residents in our city’s public housing have a safe and healthy place to call home,” said Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. “Everyone deserves a safe, quality home that they can afford. The innovative solutions detailed in NYCHA’s Sustainability Agenda will yield health, environmental, and economic benefits, improving quality of life for residents and ensuring the housing authority remains a critical source of affordable housing for years to come."