LEARN MORE: Urban Green Council’s Going Electric Report

The Urban Green Council’s new report Going Electric: Retrofitting NYC’s Multifamily Buildings identifies nine crucial steps to jumpstart electrification in the city’s 15,000 large multifamily buildings—and also facilitate compliance with the City’s groundbreaking building emissions law (Local Law 97). Local Law 97 is central to the Climate Mobilization Act (CMA), passed in New York City in 2019.

CMA is known as one of the most ambitious carbon reduction policies regarding buildings in the US, and is one of the first laws in the country, outside of California, to require significant whole-building reductions of carbon emissions. Local Law 97’s focus on buildings is due to the fact that buildings account for almost 70 percent of New York City’s carbon pollution. It requires greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large buildings to be cut by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. The policy addresses most buildings in the city over 25,000 square feet and will phase in caps on GHG emissions beginning in 2024.

To meet the city’s stringent building emissions law, and the longer-term target of an 80 percent carbon reduction by 2050, NYC buildings will need to go electric. This transition means replacing fossil fuel boilers and furnaces, which contribute 40 percent of NYC’s carbon emissions, with highly efficient electric heat pumps. Heat pumps are electrically powered systems that function by moving heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer, a highly efficient method of heating and cooling year round. Heat pumps bring building emissions closer to zero while simultaneously increasing comfort and control over indoor temperatures.

 Going Electric found that the largest obstacles to heat pump adoption in multifamily buildings are: technical information gaps, financial costs and planning, and Regulatory uncertainties. Overcoming these barriers and electrifying our heating and hot water systems will be a multi-decade process, which is why it is crucial to start now. Going Electric identifies nine next steps to remove obstacles and jumpstart electrification in the crucial multifamily sector:

  1. Demonstrate the technology in NYC. Heat pump retrofit pilot projects in the private sector as well as in government-owned buildings will shed light on options and costs for design, equipment, and labor, and also demonstrate that heat pumps are safe and work as expected. 
  2. Increase incentives and promote transparency. The biggest challenge for near-term electrification is cost. Significant increases in government and utility incentive programs are necessary to encourage heat pump options for multifamily retrofits.
  3. Harness Local Law 97 to drive electrification. NYC’s groundbreaking emissions law sets carbon caps for buildings starting in 2024. The mechanics of the law’s 2030 targets will be finalized over the next three years and with the right structure, the law could be a major driver of heat pump retrofits.
  4. Support heat pumps with better electricity rates. NYC has some of the highest electricity costs in the nation. Heat pumps could help lower these costs by making better use of existing utility infrastructure. Rates that account for the value of heat pump installations could help speed adoption and strengthen the business case for electrification.
  5. Enable electrification in affordable housing. Some regulations in the affordable housing sector make heat pumps a tough sell, particularly when many building owners already struggle with thin margins and deferred maintenance. Targeted support and regulatory improvements may be necessary to spur heat pump retrofits in this crucial sector.
  6. Start electrifying one step at a time. Building owners can spread retrofit costs out over time with incremental upgrades, but they need guidance on how to plan a multi-phase heat pump retrofit. Their options include electrifying just hot water, retrofitting one portion of the building at a time, or upgrading buildings systems to be ‘heat pump ready.’
  7. Identify electrical infrastructure needs. Beyond space heating, electrification also includes installing induction stoves and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Together, these changes will require electrical upgrades in buildings and utility distribution networks. 
  8. Ramp up workforce training. Architects, engineers, building operators, and contractors will need education and training to make sure they install the most effective heat pump systems and maintain them cost-effectively. 
  9. Launch a building electrification campaign. Electrification is a massive shift for the NYC building sector and requires an equally sizable mobilization effort. The City should develop a large-scale, public-facing campaign to engage owners, educate residents on the benefits of heat pumps, and facilitate this long-term transition. 

Urban Green Council developed this report with the help of a 40-member Advisory Board of industry leaders. Representatives from real estate, unions, energy efficiency, HVAC, utilities, and government collaborated to assess why so few large residential buildings have embraced heat pumps. The report explores the technology behind electrification and examines the challenges to adopting heat pumps in NYC. It also outlines a range of near-term strategies to start this transition, like pilot projects in public buildings and new incentives for the adoption of heat pumps. The full report can be found here.

Need help navigating the clean heating and cooling options for your home or building? The New York City 2030 District’s Heat/Cool Smart Brooklyn campaign, in partnership with the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), is involved in Brooklyn Community Boards 2 & 6. Buildings with energy efficient envelopes and clean heating and cooling systems will keep you comfortable all year round, lower your energy costs, and reduce your carbon footprint. We are seeking residential and commercial property owners to do green retrofits, community members to volunteers with campaign outreach and students for our green workforce training classes. Visit our website to get involved with your building or volunteer!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Selection of participating contractors!

Heat/Cool Smart Brooklyn is excited to announce our three participating contractor installers for our clean heating and cooling campaign. The following contractors were selected after a competitive application process and detailed review. We are excited about their tremendous experience, excellent reputations, high quality of work and responsive customer service. Stay tuned for more information and more detailed bios to follow shortly!

Green Team Long Island specializes in energy audits, air source heat pump installations, weatherization and insulation services, hot water systems, and residential solar.

Green Home Logic specializes in weatherization, heating and cooling.

Arnica Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. specializes in air conditioning, commercial rooftop heating and cooling, hanging heaters, gas hot water and steam boilers, forced air furnaces, and hot water heaters.

Press Release: Heat/Cool Smart Brooklyn

Heat Cool Smart BK

Announcement of the Heat/Cool Smart Brooklyn Clean Heating and Cooling Campaign

Brooklyn, NY, 3/30/20 – The Brooklyn Borough President’s Office in conjunction with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announce the formal launch on March 30th of Heat Cool Smart Brooklyn (HCSB), a clean heating and cooling community campaign (CHCC) serving Community Boards 2 and 6. This is one of fourteen Clean Heating and Community campaigns funded by NYSERDA.

Implemented by New York City 2030 District, HCSB’s mission is to promote the adoption of clean heating and cooling technologies by increasing awareness with education on the benefits of energy efficiency and clean technologies. HCSB will engage small building and business owners in weatherizing and electrifying their properties by providing free or low-cost building audits, building envelope improvements, and aggregated purchases of air source heat pumps facilitated through a simplified procurement process.

Over the course of the next 18 months, HCSB will administer four campaigns targeting commercial facilities and residential building owners in Community Boards 2 and 6. HCSB is also receiving funding for a training and workforce development program to be delivered by the Association for Energy Affordability and CUNY CityTech during the campaign.

These campaigns support Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal, the most aggressive climate change program in the nation that puts the New York on path to carbon-neutrality across all sectors of the economy as well as the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“At a time when climate change is intensifying, we need to empower communities to tackle a major source of carbon emissions: heating and cooling,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “The Clean Heating and Cooling Community campaigns give residents and businesses the tools to wean themselves off fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy, while training local residents for the jobs of the future. Our office is proud to be administering this campaign in Community Boards 2 and 6 in partnership with NYSERDA. In September, Centsible House launched their CHC campaign in Community Boards 3 and 17, also funded under this grant from NYSERDA. I urge all eligible owners to contact the HCSB at HeyBrooklyn.org to learn how you may benefit from this effort.”

Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Clean Heating and Cooling campaigns like Heat Cool Smart Brooklyn are helping to raise awareness and confidence all across state among local residents interested in learning more about benefits of transitioning to cleaner, more energy efficient clean heating and cooling technology. NYSERDA looks forward to working with Brooklyn Borough President’s Office and NYC 230 District to help Brooklyn building and business owners take meaningful steps toward lowering energy costs and reducing emissions in support of Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading climate and clean energy goals.”

For further information, to register your building or to volunteer for the program, fill out a form on our website and we will g

Media Contact:                      

NYC 2030 District

Frank Maricic

frank@nyc2030.org