NYC aims to cut carbon footprint by upgrading steam heat systems​

Steam heating retrofits could save building owners $10,000 to $30,000 annually, slashing heating fuel use by roughly 15 percent, according to the NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability.

Officials working through New York City’s Retrofit Accelerator program believe one of the biggest opportunities to cut down NYC’s green house gas emissions is to upgrade steam heating systems.

The NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability estimates that if every large, steam-heated building in New York City performed relatively simple upgrades, the city’s building-based greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by about 5 percent. That might not sound huge, but it’s like taking 360,000 cars off the roads. Tackling steam all by itself could bite off a chunk of New York City’s broader climate target, which is to reduce its greenhouse gases by 80 percent by the year 2050.

NYC property managers will be able to go to the Retrofit Accelerator, which launched in 2015 as the city’s free, one-stop education center for energy upgrades, for “direct one-to-one assistance” on upgrading aging steam systems.

Data from the past seven years of energy audits shows that steam warms some 70 percent of the city’s large building stock and 80 percent of multi-family residences.

Not only could updating steam heat be beneficial to the environment, but Jenna Tatum, senior policy advisor at the Office of Sustainability, estimates that following through on steam retrofits can save building owners $10,000 to $30,000 annually, slashing heating fuel use by roughly 15 percent.

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