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NYSERDA Grants Help Multifamily Buildings Cut Carbon Emissions

Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on April 19, 2023

New York City

Local Law 97, Low Carbon Pathways grants, NYSERDA, co-op and condo boards, carbon emissions.

Newly installed electric heat pumps on the roof of the Union Square co-op (picture courtesy Ecosystem Energy).

April 19, 2023

A Manhattan co-op and a Brooklyn condo have just won state grants that will help them cut their buildings’ carbon emissions and avoid fines under the city’s looming Local Law 97. The news is a reminder to other co-op and condo boards that there is a vast pool of available funding — grants, low-interest loans, tax abatements and more —  to help them play their part in fighting climate change.

The Manhattan co-op, a 173-unit prewar building near Union Square, and the Brooklyn condo, a recently constructed 43-unit building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, were two of six statewide recipients of the initial grants under the Low Carbon Pathways program instituted last summer by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Targeted at multifamily buildings, the six grants total $1.9 million of the program’s $7.8 million budget. To learn about how to apply for a grant, click here

“We got $281,000 from NYSERDA to help pay for repairs to our facade, roof, windows and balcony doors,” says Amit Shah, board president at the Bedford Place Condominium in Brooklyn, which has been plagued by construction defects since it opened in 2003. “Compliance with Local Law 97 is not easy,” he adds. “It’s an arduous process, but the state and the city are trying to help buildings lower their carbon emissions.” 

The Union Square co-op, which was already deeply involved in an overhaul of its heating and cooling system, was awarded a grant of $250,000. The money will enable engineers to recover waste heat from the building’s cooling system and use it to heat domestic hot water.

“NYSERDA is a great partner, and this grant enables us to do some tweaks to the domestic hot water part of the project,” says Ben Milbank, a senior project development engineer at Ecosystem Energy, an engineering and construction company, who is overseeing the co-op’s $7.7 million overhaul. When the entire project is completed this summer, each apartment will have an electric heat pump for heating and cooling, and air-to-water heat pumps on the roof will generate heat. “This grant,” Milbank adds, “helps us create these comprehensive projects.”

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The projects will ensure that the co-op is in compliance with Local Law 97 until at least 2050.

The Low Carbon Pathways program offers funding for carbon-reducing improvements to one or more of three systems: building envelopes; ventilation upgrades to improve indoor air quality; space and water heating with electric heat pumps.

The Low Carbon Pathways grants weren’t the first time the Manhattan co-op or the Brooklyn condo had tapped into NYSERDA’s various carbon-reduction funds. Both buildings received funding toward an energy study to help plan for improvements through NYSERDA’s Flexible Technical Assistance Program, as well as money from that program’s Low Carbon Capital Planning component.   

The Low Carbon Pathways grants don’t singlehandedly solve all the problems the boards face as they struggle to comply with the daunting complexities of Local Law 97. But the board members and their professionals understand that the grants are valuable pieces of the larger puzzle.  

“I wish our grant was bigger, with inflation going up,” Shah says. “But I can’t complain. It definitely helps.”

PRINCIPAL PLAYERS — ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION (Manhattan project): Ecosystem Energy. ARCHITECT (Brooklyn project): Cycle Architecture + Planning.

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