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Apr. 1, 2014

NYSERDA Announces Funding Opportunity for Multifamily Heating Improvement Measures

By Joshua Ayers, Senior Editor

New York—The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced that $1.2 million in funding has been set aside to assist multifamily buildings in implementing improvements to heating systems. The current program seeks to provide $500- to $800-per-unit incentives to multifamily buildings using heavy oil—specifically No. 6 and No. 4—and non-firm gas as heating fuel in order to encourage building owners to pursue alternative heating options and to make energy-efficient upgrades to such current systems ahead of stricter environmental standards that must be met by 2030.

Lindsay Robbins, senior project manager, NYSERDA, tells MHN that the funding is part of NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program, which has been running since May 2007. She says that NYSERDA has launched five different versions of the program since then.

“The current version, Version 5, was launched in July 2012,” she says. “In order to serve oil-heated or interruptible gas customers through the program, we utilize Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funding. RGGI funding comes in on a quarterly basis and is available until it has been fully committed. This announcement is in reference to the RGGI funds that are currently available through the program.”

Robbins says that in order to be eligible, buildings must have five or more units and pay into the System Benefits Charge on their electric bill.

Common improvement measures for this version can include the installation of heating controls to sense and regulate temperatures, installing burner and draft controls to increase boiler efficiency, replacing steam traps, installing pipe and boiler insulation to reduce standby losses and installing a separate hot water system for summer months to avoid firing a large boiler year round. All of these improvements not only help meet environmental standards, but can also help save building owners money in the short- and long-term.

“We see a broad range of building sizes participate in the program, everything from five-unit walkups to 500-unit high rise complexes,” she says. “Buildings of any size can almost always find cost-effective solutions reduce their energy usage by 15 percent or more.”

According to Robbins, some of the most popular cost-effective  and efficiency improvements a community can make include common area lighting upgrades, installing kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads, adding pipe insulation, replacing steam traps and adding thermostatic radiator valves. Other common enhancements include boiler and window replacements, as well as energy management system overhauls.

“Pursuing energy-efficiency measures while converting to alternative heating options enables building owners to realize multiple benefits,” she says. “Those who participate in NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program are able to lower energy bills (potentially by hundreds of thousands of dollars), protect themselves against future volatility of energy costs and provide a more comfortable, affordable living environment for tenants.”

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