NYCHA Sustainability Agenda: 2018 Progress Report

Sustainability Agenda Cover Photo

NYCHA’s Sustainability Agenda, released on Earth Day 2016, is both a roadmap for the next 10 years and an invitation to residents, housing and environmental advocates, community-based organizations, sister agencies, and educational institutions to work together to create a sustainable and resilient city.
The Sustainability Agenda is guided by four principles:

  1. Make resident quality of life the top priority and key measure of success;
  2. Adopt rigorous evidence-based practices;
  3. Communicate goals, metrics, and methods clearly and transparently;
  4. Work in a spirit of partnership.

Goal 1: Achieve short-term financial stability and diversify funding for the long term

Strategy S1: Attract investments for capital improvements

NYCHA is well on the way toward its goal of obtaining $300 million via HUD Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs). NYCHA has secured $167 million in private bank loans, including $103 million since Earth Day 2017.

NYCHA has also secured $4.2 million in Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) grants since launching the NYCHA WAP program in 2016, including $3.2 million since Earth Day 2017.

Strategy S2: Raise revenues through clean and distributed energy projects

NYCHA released an RFP in October of 2017 to invite solar developers to propose photovoltaic installations on NYCHA property in exchange for lease payments. This RFP is the first of an anticipated series to meet the Renew300 commitment of 25 MW over 10 years.

In concert with the commercial-scale solar program, NYCHA is launching ACCESSolar, a program tailored to small businesses and non-profits in April 2018.

Goal 2: Operate as an effective and efficient landlord

Strategy S3: Create healthy indoor environments

Implement a Comprehensive Mold Response Initiative: In April 2018, NYCHA agreed to a full rollout of the Mold Busters program authority-wide train NYCHA staff to find the root causes of mold and eliminate them.

Reduce exposure to secondhand smoke at home: NYCHA launched an initiative to educate residents about the health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke and has expanded access to services for smokers who want to quit. In January 2018, Smoke-Free NYCHA meetings began at developments in preparation for the smoke-free housing policy that NYCHA will adopt in July 2018 to comply with HUD rules.

Train property managers in practices that promote healthy homes: In the winter of 2018, NYCHA trained approximately 500 Operations staff in practices that promote sustainable and healthy homes. The training includes curriculum around vacancy turn-over, energy efficiency, mold, smoke-free housing policy, integrated pest management and waste management. The program is a joint effort of CUNY, DOHMH, and DSNY.

Strategy S4: Efficiently provide comfortable and reliable heat and hot water

Improve heating and hot water systems through smart building technology: In the summer of 2017, CUNY’s Building Performance Lab submitted a report recommending upgrades of NYCHA’s building management system. NYCHA is beginning the first upgrades this summer.

Strategy S5: Improve water management

Install water meters in all developments: DEP is now more than two-thirds of the way through the installation of 540 meters at 500 NYCHA buildings. All NYCHA buildings will have meters in place by September 2018.

Understand the patterns of water consumption: NYCHA and DEP are partnering on a NYSERDA-funded water consumption study. DEP began submeter installations in early 2018.

Install water-efficient fixtures: NYCHA updated its purchasing standards for toilets (1.28 gallons per flush), showerheads (1.5 gallons per minute), and bathroom faucets (1 gallon per minute) in 2016. NYCHA has been testing ultra-high efficiency toilets (0.8 gallons per flush vs. 1.6 gallons per flush for standard toilets) in 177 apartments since 2016. NYCHA is also replacing old toilets as part of DEP’s Toilet Replacement Program.

Strategy S6: Adopt a comprehensive waste management plan

Expand recycling infrastructure: In January 2018, NYCHA began enrolling developments in the DSNY e-cycleNYC program, which diverts electronic waste from landfills. As of April 2018, nine developments are participating.

Waste Management Plan: NYCHA convened an inter-agency advisory group to oversee the development of a comprehensive waste management plan and completed a waste characterization study of recycling and bulk waste. The comprehensive waste management plan will be released in 2018.

Goal 3: Rebuild, expand, and preserve public and affordable housing

Strategy S7: Eliminate roof, façade, and plumbing leaks

In January 2017, Mayor de Blasio announced that the City will invest $1 Billion to replace roofs at more than 700 NYCHA buildings. To date, 65 buildings at 5 developments have received new roofs under this commitment. Construction will begin on 15 more developments in 2018.

Strategy S8: Retrofit master-planned developments

NYCHA has $167 million in energy efficiency construction underway at 67 developments throughout the city, serving 47,000 apartments.

Strategy S9: Retrofit scattered-site developments

In May 2017, NY State Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) completed energy efficiency upgrades at Howard Avenue Houses, the pilot development for the NYCHA WAP initiative. In the 2017-2018 program year NYCHA entered into contracts for 990 units in 12 NYCHA developments with 6 WAP agencies. Audits are underway for 5 developments for the 2018-2019 program year.

Strategy S10: Build green infrastructure

DEP expects to complete the green infrastructure (GI) installation at Edenwald Houses, the largest GI installation in the city, by end of April 2018. Design is underway or completed for GI at thirty-five NYCHA developments, with construction expected to begin in late 2018 through mid-2019. In late 2017, an additional 31 sites have been identified for future GI installations.

Strategy S11: Incorporate climate change resiliency into capital planning

Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. assessed the resilience of 12 NYCHA buildings and delivered its recommendations in November 2017. 

Goal 4: Engage residents and connect them to best-in-class services

Strategy S12: Support resident- and community-led sustainability

Promote health food access through resident-led urban agriculture: Farms at NYCHA was launched in 2016 and built four new farms to expand healthy food access, provide youth workforce and leadership development, and promote sustainable and connected public housing communities. Residents at the four active farm developments contributed 1,371 volunteer hours in 2017. The program teaches young public housing residents how to build and maintain farms that serve fellow residents. A fifth farm was built in the fall of 2017 and a sixth is currently under construction.

Support resident-driven sustainability projects: In September 2017, NYCHA launched the Ideas Marketplace in partnership with the Fund for Public Housing (FPH) and ioby, a non-profit crowdfunding platform. The Ideas Marketplace helps residents and community-based organizations showcase and fund projects in their homes. 3 projects have been funded since its launch.

Strategy S13: Connect residents to green jobs

Since April 2017, NYCHA has employed 47 residents to work on energy efficiency projects.

In January 2018, NYC DEP committed to prioritizing NYCHA residents when hiring for its 75 new bioswale right-of-way maintenance jobs.

NYCHA is also requiring resident hiring and training plans as part of its 25 MW solar program.

Working towards 80 x 50

Strategy S14: Create an 80 x 50 roadmap

Steven Winter Associates conducted a study of technologies needed to achieve 2030 and 2050 climate goals. NYCHA will begin to adopt these recommendations in the upcoming heating system upgrades.

In the summer of 2018, NYCHA will develop a fleet study to explore the adoption of electric vehicles and support NYC’s Clean Fleet goal of cutting municipal vehicle emissions in half by 2025.

Strategy S15: Create incentives to encourage new low-energy buildings

In the spring of 2017, Enterprise Community Partners provided an introduction to Passive House specifications to developers who have qualified to submit development proposals to NYCHA.

Strategy S16: Test “deep” energy retrofit technologies

NYCHA has five technology pilots underway. Two pilots were selected through Calls for Innovations with the support of the Mayor’s Office of Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO), and three pilots were selected through the Fund for Public Housing’s the Tech Pilots program.