$70 Million announced to decarbonize NYCHA buildings in Clean Heat for All Challenge

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The heat pump: Credit: Chris Woodford/explainthatstuff.com Copyright: Copyright © Chris Woodford 2021

Midea America and Gradient will develop new heat pump technology and produce 30,000 units for NYC public housing facilities in the Clean Heat for All Challenge.

Officials announced $70 million funding with two seven-year contracts to the companies – the latest milestone in the program spearheaded by NYCHA, NYPA, and NYSERDA to develop a new electrification product that can better serve heating and cooling needs of existing multi-family buildings and speed the transition to fossil-free heating sources.

“New York is tackling the climate crisis and the need for affordable housing head on, and today we’re taking additional action through a transformative $70 million investment,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “Prioritizing green investments in public housing ensures the State’s bold climate agenda is equitable – benefiting all New Yorkers now and for decades to come. All NYCHA residents deserve high quality homes and New York will continue to take aggressive measures to help ensure residents have the safe, livable, and quality affordable housing they deserve.”

Heat pump technology provides efficient cooling and heating from a single unit by moving heat between the indoor and outdoor spaces depending on the season. The process is achieved through the refrigeration cycle, which can be up to four times more efficient than traditional heating systems, such as boilers, which rely on on-site combustion of fossil fuels to produce heat. Heat pumps are difficult to install, particularly in occupied units. As a result, many operators prefer to delay electric conversion in favor of in-kind replacement of fossil fuel systems.

Midea America, which was awarded a contract for 20,000 units, is a global appliance manufacturer founded in 1968 with headquarters in China and the U.S., 11 factories around the globe, and annual output of 67 million units. They are a market leader in room air conditioning with a line of Energy Star rated window ACs, dehumidifiers and other packaged ACs.

Founded in 2015, Gradient is a startup based in San Francisco, California that was awarded a contract to manufacture 10,000 units. The proposed unit will be a cold climate heat pump capable of operating at low temperatures based on NYCHA’s specifications. The company intends to manufacture the product domestically in the United States.

“NYPA is excited to progress the Clean Heat for All Challenge through the selection of the initiative’s first vendors, which will develop and produce 30,000 heat pump units for the benefit of NYCHA residents. The Decarbonization of buildings—the state’s largest carbon emissions source—is critical to achieving the Governor’s ambitious climate change goals,” said Interim NYPA President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll.

Over the next year, NYPA will coordinate with Midea America and Gradient to develop the proposed heat pump technology for testing and demonstration. NYPA will then collaborate with NYCHA to install 60 of the developed units in designated public housing to be comprehensively monitored and assessed over the course of a winter season before moving forward with the widespread installation of 30,000 units throughout the following years.

NYCHA estimates a need for approximately 156,000 cold climate window heat pumps over the next 5-10 years in order to electrify its portfolio to achieve 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 per New York City’s Local Law 97. Beyond NYCHA, such a unit would be applicable to other large portfolio managers including other public affordable housing operators and universities.

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