Report: Steam Heat Fixes to NYC Apartments Could Save Owners Nearly $150 Million Annually, Cut Climate Pollution

Experts Offer Solutions for Building Owners, Policymakers to Boost Energy Efficiency

NEW YORK (November 20, 2015) – Energy efficiency upgrades to the steam heating systems found in the vast majority of New York City apartments could save building owners $147 million in annual energy costs and maintenance savings, help the city meet its goals for cutting carbon emissions, and improve  apartment living for millions of New Yorkers.

“Most large New York City apartment buildings have dinosaurs hiding in the basement,” said Lindsay Robbins, Senior Advocate in the Urban Solutions program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These relics cost building owners millions of dollars in waste every year, leave many New York residents either too hot or too cold, and frequently fill apartments with a chorus of clanging pipes. But they don’t have to. This report shows us how to improve our heating systems, which will reduce energy costs and climate pollution, and make New York apartment living more pleasant.”

Clanging Pipes and Open Windows: Updating NYC Steam Systems for the 21st Century, released by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Energy Efficiency for All—a coalition of energy, environmental and housing organizations—details cost-saving strategies to upgrade the most prevalent type of heating system in New York City apartment buildings: steam generated from burning oil or natural gas. The report’s content is based on the work of Steven Winter Associates Multifamily Energy Services team’s analysis of steam heating systems in New York City.

Buildings are the single largest source of climate pollution in the city, and a lot of that pollution is the result of energy used to heat them. Making the upgrades in this report is critical to helping the city reach its goal of reducing climate change pollution 80 percent by 2050. These steam heat fixes alone would cut more than 300,000 tons of CO2, which is equal to the amount of pollution generated by more than 65,000 cars.


In addition to the savings this can deliver to building owners, these upgrades also have the potential to reduce housing costs over time. That’s because energy efficiency reduces heating costs that building owners pass on to tenants as part of their rent. This is particularly important for low-income New Yorkers, who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on housing costs.

And these fixes come with the added benefit of bringing indoor comfort to millions of New Yorkers—from making steam heating units quieter, to better regulating the temperature of apartments, which results in fewer complaints.

“Seventy-six percent of multifamily space in New York City has steam heating systems, which means that a significant portion of the city’s residents and building owners can benefit from making these heating upgrades,” said Jason Block, Senior Deputy Director, Multifamily Energy Services at Steven Winter Associates. “These solutions are available now, and with proper design and training, can be implemented across the city.”

Energy Efficiency for All is made up of the following organizations: Energy Foundation, Elevate Energy, National Housing Trust and Natural Resources Defense Council. Steven Winter Associates, Inc., is a research and consulting firm with specialized expertise in technologies and procedures that improve the performance and cost effectiveness of buildings.

Full report here:



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