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Solar Panels Lead NYCHA’s Sustainability Agenda

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The housing authority is trying to improve operations and bring itself into the 21st century

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) released its new sustainability agenda on Thursday, and the leading initiative is solar power. The authority is pledging to generate 25 megawatts of power from solar panels by 2025. There will be 2.5 million square feet of panels. The Wall Street Journal says that’s enough to cover Washington Square Park. It would be enough to power 6,600 apartments. NYCHA has 178,000 units with 400,000 residents, making it the city’s biggest landlord.

Private vendors would be sought to install the panels, part of a joint initiative from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Energy called Renew300. The goal is to reduce energy intensity by 20 percent by the year 2030.

Funding for some improvements will actually be paid for upfront by private vendors, who will then get paid back by the savings gained from those improvements. That encourages Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres. "I am optimistic about the plan because of the funding concept," he told the Journal.

Another goal of the sustainability plan are eliminating the root causes of mold by fixing leaks in roofs, facades, and pipes and by modernizing ventilation systems. NYCHA also hopes to ensure consistent heat and hot water, reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050, and integrate resiliency and climate change adaption into its capital planning.

Additionally, they’re trying to reduce waste by 90 percent by 2030, eliminate landfill waste by 2050, deal with pest problems, reduce or eliminate the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and even reduce the amount of secondhand smoke residents are exposed to.

"Our Sustainability Agenda is both a commitment and an invitation. NYCHA is committed to creating healthy, comfortable homes for our residents that will withstand the challenge of climate change," said NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye. "But we cannot do it alone. To re- create the future of our communities and blunt the impact of climate change, we must rst work with our residents, as active change agents; housing and envi- ronmental advocates, community-based organizations, and other government agencies. Our long-term vision of equity, sustainability and resiliency must be a shared vision if we are to accomplish our goals."

NYCHA’s first sustainability project was the planting of resident gardens at 65 sites back in 1963.

The NextGeneration NYCHA Sustainability Agenda [Official]

Housing Agency Plans Energy Efficiencies [WSJ]