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Title:New York’s Public Housing May Be On The Verge Of A Climate Breakthrough
Date:8/5/2022 3:14:03 PM

In 1993, as the new hit “Whoomp! There It Is” blared from boomboxes across the five boroughs, the New York City Housing Authority discovered a problem.

A highly efficient refrigerator, which required almost 30% less electricity to keep groceries cool, had just hit the market. But the appliance was too big for the nearly 200,000 government-controlled apartments, home to nearly as many people as Wyoming.

So NYCHA and state energy officials put out a bid to manufacturers: Make an efficient fridge that can fit in an apartment, and we guarantee we’ll buy at least 20,000. The program turned out to be a huge success, and the winning manufacturer Maytag ultimately produced an appliance that transformed the market.

NYCHA wants to do that again. But this time, the appliance in question is geared around regulating the temperature of the entire home, not just the groceries.

The housing authority announced this week it would move ahead with plans to develop and buy efficient, sleek new heat pumps for a pilot program.

Heat pumps are essentially two-way air conditioners, and are widely seen as the most efficient and practical way to heat buildings without fossil fuels. As hardware improvements make heat pumps more versatile and dependable than ever before, policymakers are scrambling to roll them out as quickly as possible, especially as high fuel prices threaten to make keeping warm this winter expensive. But heat pumps remain costly to buy and install, and many on the market are designed for single-family houses, not compact apartments.

Once she sized up that challenge, Vlada Kenniff, NYCHA’s senior vice president of sustainability, said she immediately thought back to the refrigerator effort in the 1990s.

“We actually found many of the people that worked on the original refrigerator program in the 1990s and really tried to understand how that came together,” she said in an interview this week. “Very early on in this project, we...

Organization:Huffington Post
Date Added:8/6/2022 6:37:04 AM