Governor Hochul Announces Energy Efficient Upgrades for Affordable Housing Units

Brian Kavanagh

November 10, 2021

$5 Million Offered in Second Round of $30 Million RetrofitNY program

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the availability of $5 million for a second round of pilot projects under the $30 million RetrofitNY program. This program will help to advance whole-building deep energy efficiency upgrades that will substantially lower emissions from multifamily affordable housing. Projects funded through this initiative will support modernizing building renovation by demonstrating technology-based construction solutions that are expected to help create jobs, foster a tech savvy workforce in New York State and advance cost-effective replicable solutions, as part of the state's growing green economy. Today's announcement supports the State's nation-leading goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050, as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act).

"Buildings contribute approximately one third of harmful emissions across the state," said Governor Hochul. "This holistic approach to transforming the building renovation industry will ensure New York State's building stock is cleaner, greener and healthier for all residents. Through the support of innovative digital technologies and construction and manufacturing processes, New York is further cementing itself as a leader in the utilization of clean energy."

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the RetrofitNY funding announced today seeks to support owners of eligible affordable housing buildings up to seven stories. The program helps building owners planning substantial renovations in their roofs, windows, and/or heating system replacements within the next two years. Owners of qualifying buildings may also be eligible for up to $100,000 in design incentives. Eligibility will be determined through submission of a building renovation scope of work. Owners may also be eligible for up to an additional $40,000 per dwelling unit, with a cap of $1.6 million per building, subject to funding availability, to cover incremental costs for all electric, whole-building upgrades that put buildings on a path to carbon neutrality. This incremental funding is meant to bridge the gap between financing from other sources such as regulated housing agencies, bank loans and tax credits used for business-as-usual renovations. It allows building owners to seek renovations that achieve high performance and low carbon solutions with the goal of reaching fully carbon neutral renovation solutions in the future. 

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, "To achieve our climate goals, more than 200,000 buildings a year need to be retrofitted across the state from now through mid-century and to do achieve this we need to identify innovative solutions that work for building owners and occupants. We are incentivizing building owners to go beyond making the usual renovations to undertake carbon neutral solutions that can create replicable processes for renovating whole buildings that both reduce building emissions and increase occupant comfort."

Whole-building retrofits incentivized under this program upgrade the building exterior through the use of off-site manufactured, panelized façade systems and other building efficiency upgrades to lower building energy use, as well as upgrading the mechanical systems to efficient all electric heat pump-based systems for heating, cooling and domestic hot water, including energy recovery ventilation, and integration of solar PV systems. 

Benefits of whole-building retrofits through RetrofitNY include:

  • Minimized occupant relocation during renovations due to use of building components manufactured off-site to shorten on-site construction times;
  • Lower utility costs and other building operating expenses;
  • Improved building resiliency during power outages;
  • Enhanced indoor air quality through electrification and improved ventilation;
  • Decreased outside noise penetration;
  • Enhanced aesthetic appearance of buildings; and
  • Compliance with building related local laws.

State Senator Brian Kavanagh said, "Making public funds available to support energy efficiency upgrades in our affordable housing stock is an essential part of our work toward eliminating greenhouse gas emissions. We must take aggressive action to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in all sectors of our society and economy, if we are serious about reducing the harmful effects of climate change. We need to make these kinds of investments on a much larger scale, but the RetrofitNY Program is an important step in the right direction. I thank Governor Kathy Hochul, NYSERDA Chair Richard Kauffman, and everyone at NYSERDA for their ongoing commitment to making New York a leader in creating a sustainable world."

State Senator Kevin Parker said, "The RetrofitNY program will ensure we are doing our part to make disadvantaged communities a priority.  The program will be an asset to thousands of affordable housing residents and provide jobs for those who live within the State. I look forward to the expansion of this project overtime as we work to meet our clean energy goals."

Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz said, "RetrofitNY is a win-win program that allows families in affordable housing to benefit from energy efficiency upgrades while at the same time saving money for our State and supporting our goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Thank you to Governor Hochul for advancing the second round of this important initiative."

Assemblymember Michael Cusick said, "As we continue to work towards achieving our energy and climate goals, it is crucial that we continue improve energy efficiency and upgrade our buildings which contribute so much to our overall greenhouse gas emissions. Today's announcement demonstrates a continued commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of our infrastructure and is a meaningful step toward reaching our energy and climate goals." 

Building owners interested in this opportunity must first be qualified to partner with a NYSERDA-qualified solution provider using products from qualified manufacturers to design, furnish, and install an all-electric whole building retrofit solution on their pilot building. NYSERDA facilitates matchmaking with solution providers to assist building owners, who may then apply for gap funding. Approved pilots will undergo a four to six month design process to finalize their design. Pilot projects will be selected and funding awarded on a first come, first served basis with the opportunity remaining open through November 1, 2022, or until funding is exhausted. To apply, click here. An informational webinar is scheduled for Friday, November 19 for those interested in learning more.

The first round of RetrofitNY pilot projects were awarded in 2018 and they are helping to  develop the next generation of pre-fabricated and integrated building systems to lower costs, while mitigating the adverse effects of climate change that disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities. For instance, RiseboroCommunity Partnership's Casa Pasiva, a 100 percent affordable housing project located in a disadvantaged community in Brooklyn anticipates completion by year's end. They will have a 60-80 percent building energy reduction while substantially improving residents' indoor environmental quality and health. New York State is leading the development of a regional and national market for whole building deep energy retrofits through collaboration with other states with additional research and development efforts being supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through their Advanced Building Construction Initiative which made multiple awards in 2020 to support Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and envelope technologies directly informed by the RetrofitNY program. 

Buildings are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State and integrating energy efficiency and electrification measures in existing buildings will reduce carbon pollution and help achieve more sustainable, healthy, and comfortable buildings. Through NYSERDA and utility programs, over $6.8 billion is being invested to decarbonize buildings across the State.  In addition to the carbon benefits, these projects will also help the State achieve its ambitious energy efficiency target to reduce on-site energy consumption by 185 TBtu by 2025, the equivalent of powering 1.8 million homes. 

This program is funded through NYSERDA's $6 billion Clean Energy Fund. 

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined. These investments are supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector since 2015, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities.

About NYSERDA
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA's programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube, or Instagram.