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Spotlight on Innovation: Steven Winter Associates

New York County

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Scalable and Financeable Electrification: Designing a Pathway for Multifamily Buildings  

A pilot project will explore the viability of partial electrification paired with demand response as a bridge solution to full electrification for medium-sized multifamily buildings across the state


“This project represents a creative solution for dramatically increasing the prevalence of heat pump retrofits while working with residents and owners together to build engagement.”
– Nicole Ceci, Project Director, Steven Winter Associates

Small- to medium-sized multifamily buildings with between 10 and 100 apartments make up ~1 billion+ square feet of New York State real estate. They house mostly low- to moderate income New Yorkers. These buildings lack readily deployable solutions to achieve operational bill savings while reducing long-term carbon footprint.

A large portion of New York City multifamily buildings are served by some form of central domestic hot water (DHW) plant that could accommodate a central electric air to water heat pump (AWHP) DHW retrofit. However, the cost of retrofitting electrification solutions to replace central systems is too high and often results in increased cost of operations.

Proposed Solution

Given the current cost of electricity compared to natural gas, this project proposes that partial DHW electrification (30-50% of existing load) through retrofitting DHW systems with AWHPs is a cost-effective alternative to full electrification. 

This project for small-to-medium sized NYC multifamily buildings will also include a dedicated financing option, an equity strategy in the form of a “green dividend” that directs energy savings back to tenants, and support for future AWHP retrofits through software development.

This approach can provide multifamily building owners with a practical and affordable pathway to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Project Timeline

Initiated: June 2021

Anticipated Completion: March 2024

Goals and Objectives

This pilot project will be accomplished by:


Installing AWHP systems in 25 demonstration buildings. These systems will enable partial DHW load displacement by integrating with buildings’ existing DHW components. They will also support grid flexibility by utilizing control systems that regulate when the heat pumps operate. 


Partnering with the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation to establish a dedicated financing opportunity to be utilized by participating building owners, allowing them to pay for the upfront costs of retrofit projects that are not covered by other available incentives and rebates. 


Developing a “green dividend,” which will be used to direct a portion of the energy savings from heat pump retrofits to be distributed among building occupants or reinvested in building improvements with guidance from occupants.


Capturing and analyzing project information through the development of a software tool meant to streamline AWHP project implementation by speeding up the decision-making process, improving transparency in the retrofit construction market, and mitigating risks for owners, funders, and contractors at the market level.

Read about other building carbon decarbonization solutions.

Visit NYSERDA’s Innovative Market Strategies program page.