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Phipps Garden Apartments is a two-building complex made up of 472 apartments built in the 1930s. It occupies a full city block in Sunnyside, Queens. Phipps Houses, a not-for-profit organization founded by Henry Phipps, is dedicated to providing high quality affordable housing for lower-income tenants. Therefore, when faced with making energy efficiency upgrades, the apartment complex management had to find an innovative way to improve the space without increasing the rent.


Case Study Resources


The Association for Energy Affordability (AEA) assessed the apartment complex's full energy use and recommended solutions and funding sources to make the upgrade financially feasible. As an affordable housing building, Phipps Garden Apartments qualified for multiple grants and incentives from NYSERDA, the project’s Multifamily Performance Partner, and other organizations, allowing them to implement the following changes:
• Boiler replaced with an energy-efficient dual-fuel heating system
• Cellulose insulation added to the roof
• Caulking and weather stripping added to windows
• Insulation added to domestic hot water pipes
• Low flow showerheads installed
• Apartment and common area lighting fixtures upgraded

Design & Conditions

In 2010 the building complex was in need of an overall energy efficiency upgrade. The 31-year old boiler had to be replaced following the enactment of New York City Council's Local Law 43, banning the use of #6 fuel oil. Phipps Garden Apartments needed to find a way to invest in an energy efficiency upgrade without raising their rent for the apartment owners.


This project generated annual savings on gas (8,951 million Btu) and electricity (267,130 kWh possible), resulting in a yearly savings of $179,663. The tenants are reportedly extremely happy with the upgrade because they're burning cleaner fuel, polluting less, and saving money on electricity. Phipps Garden Apartments was able to make positive changes, increase energy savings, and reduce energy costs, all without raising the rental price for the tenants— a key consideration for this not-for-profit, affordable housing complex.


The need for compliance with New York Council's Local Law 43 banning #6 oil was just the extra push the Phipps Apartment complex needed to completely revamp their heating, cooling, water and common lighting systems. With the help of their partners and incentives, the Phipps Apartment management team was able to seize this opportunity to improve their environment without raising costs.

Project Team

Douglas Hanau
Vice President, Phipps Houses Services, Inc.
Association for Energy Affordability (AEA)
A NYSERDA Multifamily Performance Partner

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