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$3M will help 'green' up NYC's low-income, older housing


Energy experts will test new, energy-saving approaches in older multifamily housing developments in the New York City region with a $3 million, two-year grant. The project is led by the not-for-profit Community Environmental Center (CEC) of Long Island City, and in partnership with Cornell and Cornell University Cooperative Extension-New York City (CUCE-NYC), and other organizations.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), they will implement building retrofits, provide education and training, and conduct a study as part of an effort to demonstrate cost savings and environmental benefits of energy retrofits and an education intervention.

Cornell researchers will design and coordinate the research component, led by Joseph Laquatra, professor of design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell, with Gretchen Ferenz, senior extension associate, and Caroline Tse, extension associate in the Urban Environment Program, both at CUCE-NYC. The research, which is funded with about $111,000, will involve a quasi-experimental study with intervention and control groups to examine changes in tenant and superintendents' knowledge and motivation, as well as an energy use assessment among retrofitted and non-retrofitted buildings.

"In addition, along with Cornell, CEC will analyze and consolidate the results of this retrofit initiative to provide a template for other consortia of affordable housing stakeholders, environmental education providers, and federal Weatherization Assistance Programsubgrantees across the country to replicate the success of this project," Laquatra said.

Through these efforts, the Cornell energy team and project partners seek to demonstrate that implementing cost-effective capital improvement measures, including renewable energy systems and novel in-unit energy monitoring and control devices where appropriate, can save owners and tenants money, especially in low-income housing units.

CEC will invest in up to 950 affordable housing units, including units serving developmentally disabled and substance-dependent, low-income individuals in single-room occupancy units through CEC's partnership with the Bridge New York. The $3 million award is part of $23 million that HUD granted across the nation for a pilot program to test new energy-saving approaches in older multifamily developments. The federal grants are directly leveraging an additional $60 million in philanthropic, local and private capital.

HUD's long-term goal is to develop ideas and mechanisms that could be replicated nationally, as well as to help create industry standards in the home energy efficiency retrofit market. In addition, the pilot program will create public-private partnerships as a result of capital investments from private industries, and create green jobs, including opportunities for low-income residents, in construction, property management and technical analysis in such areas as energy audits and building commissioning.


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Blaine Friedlander