Press Release

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Housing Authority seeks innovative proposals to help decrease demand for electricity and heat in public housing developments

NEW YORK–– Today, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI) issued two Calls for Innovations (CFIs) to help reduce the demand for and costs of electricity and heat in public housing. NYCHA, the largest low-income residential landlord in North America, spends roughly $180 million annually on electricity and $200 million for heating and hot water—a total $380 million annual expense. Additionally, average energy use at NYCHA developments is 40 percent higher than at typical multi-family buildings across New York City. Through the CFIs, NYCHA is seeking pilot project proposals that use innovative technologies to help it become an efficient and effective landlord while improving the comfort and well-being of its residents.

New York City’s Calls for Innovations, overseen by MOTI, are open requests for ideas and proposals that use cutting-edge, outside-the-box thinking and 21st-century tools to address city needs and challenges. MOTI has developed these Calls for Innovations in partnership with Citymart, an organization that is transforming the way cities solve problems by connecting them with new ideas through open challenges to entrepreneurs and citizens.

NYCHA General Manager Michael Kelly said, “NYCHA is excited to launch this partnership with MOTI seeking innovative ideas that will enhance the sustainability of public housing. As we work to become a more modern and effective landlord, it is crucial that NYCHA reduce operating costs while improving the delivery of services. Rethinking how we provide heat and electricity to our residents will make NYCHA more efficient and sustainable, as we conserve both costs and energy.”

Jeff Merritt, Director of Innovation with the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation said, "New technologies and innovative approaches are critical to our efforts to curb the impacts of climate change and build more sustainable communities. These calls for innovation represent a tremendous opportunity for companies of all sizes to partner with the City of New York, showcase their ideas and innovations, and help establish a new global standard for healthy and energy-efficient public housing."

Citymart Partner Julia Haselmayer said, “We are excited to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation and with the New York City Housing Authority on these two Challenges open to the world’s citizens and entrepreneurs to help NYCHA reduce its environmental footprint and increase its operational efficiencies when it comes to heating and energy.”

For each CFI, NYCHA will select one or more solutions to be implemented as pilot projects at a NYCHA development. If the pilot is successful both economically and technically, NYCHA may announce an open procurement process soliciting bids for further deploying the technology.

CFI #1: Decreasing Electrical Demand in NYCHA’s Master-Metered Developments:

Studies by the New York State Research and Development Authority and others have shown that residents use more electricity when they do not directly pay for it. In 257 of NYCHA’s 328 public housing developments, NYCHA, rather than the residents, pays for electricity – this arrangement is called “master-metering.” Residents in master-metered NYCHA developments use 4 times as much, on average, as residents who pay their own electricity bills.

NYCHA is seeking scalable technical solutions for simultaneously managing electrical demand and reducing the cost of electricity, without infringing on residents’ control over how and when they use electric appliances. Solutions must quantifiably demonstrate proven reductions in electric demand and pay for themselves with the savings they generate. Click here for more information on the electric demand challenge.

CFI #2: Reducing Heat and Hot Water Loads at NYCHA Developments Connected to Con Edison’s District Steam Heat System:

Ninety-two percent of NYCHA apartments are heated with steam. A small number––16 developments––are currently connected to Con Edison’s district steam system, in which steam is a by-product of electricity generation. Although these district-steam-heated buildings require less expensive equipment and also cost less to maintain, Con Ed steam is twice the cost of steam generated with local boiler rooms. These buildings also tend to use more energy for heating than the typical NYCHA buildings—their median heating energy intensity is some 80 percent higher. In 2015, the total cost of steam for these 16 developments was $7.8 million.

NYCHA is looking for technical solutions to improve the energy profile of district steam developments. Solutions may address load reduction through improvements in distribution, hot water generation, or improvements in apartment units, as long as these are cost effective and replicable. NYCHA is seeking and will prioritize multi-faceted solutions that will enhance resiliency at the same time as reducing heat-and-hot-water load—for example, by generating back-up power for hallway lighting, elevators, and security systems. Click here for more information on the district steam challenge.

Timeline for Submissions and Approval:

  • October 18 - November 23: Entry Period
    Applicants sign up to participate and submit all required forms.
  • November 25 - December 21: Judging period
    Approved participants will have their submissions reviewed by the evaluation panel.
  • December 22: Finalists announced
    NYCHA/MOTI will announce finalists, who will then submit specifications for their proposed pilot solutions by February 15, 2017.
  • December 23 – February 28: Second Round of Judging
    Technical specifications will be reviewed by NYCHA.
  • March 1 - Winners Announced
    The participants selected for pilot engagements will be announced.

Learn more about New York City’s Call For Innovations program. For more information on NYCHA’s Sustainability Agenda, which details the commitments that NYCHA will make over the next 10 years to improve resident well-being and operate as an effective and efficient landlord, click here.