When French Apartments’ scheduled refinancing coincided with the end of the boilers’ useful lives, Related Companies seized the opportunity to invest in substantial steam heating system upgrades to improve building performance and boost tenant comfort. The comprehensive scope of steam heating system work included boiler room, common area, and in-unit measures, and required coordination between building staff, tenants, and six teams of contractors. Work began in the summer of 2013 and continued through fall 2014.

Facts about the building

Project type: Two-pipe Steam Heating System Upgrade

Location: Manhattan, NY

Year of project completion: 2014

Base building completed: 

Project size: 148,000 sf/174 units

Buidling type
: Multifamily, affordable

Existing Conditions

French Apartments’ steam heating distribution system dated back to the building’s 1981 residential conversion. The two aging boilers were due to be replaced, and other system components were in need of significant tuning and maintenance.In 2011, French Apartments completed a voluntary energy audit, under NYSERDA’s FlexTech Benchmarking program. The audit, followed by a more in-depth analysis of the building’s steam distribution system, revealed opportunities for reducing energy consumption through efficiency improvements, including steam system upgrades.

Green Features

1. Boiler & Burner Upgrades
Right-sized boilers with linkageless burners

2. Radiator Improvements
TRVs, orifice plates, and radiant barrier insulation

3. Master Venting
Gorton #2 vents installed on top of steam risers

4. Multi-Sensor Controls
Pepco Energuard control system with wireless temperature sensors

Additional Features (not pictured)
Building envelope improvements, including air sealing and insulation

Download the full case study here.

Project Team

Related Companies
Project Owner

Steven Winter Associates

Project Design & Oversight


Incentive Provider

Air Seal Insulation Systems
Ultra Plumbing Inc.
PAR Group
Remediation Specialists, Inc.
Westside Windows & Doors
Service & Installation


  • NYC Accelerator


• Balanced flow of steam with more consistent and even heating to all apartment units.
• More responsive heating system, with increased tenant control over in-unit temperatures.
• More efficient boiler and burner operation, with energy and fuel cost savings.
• Higher quality steam, with quieter pipes and radiators and improved equipment longevity.
• Reduced building heat loss and costly energy waste.
• Increased tenant comfort and satisfaction.

Lessons Learned

With six different teams of contractors – and five of them requiring apartment access – scheduling presented one of the biggest project challenges. In order to streamline the process and minimize disturbance to residents, SWA scheduled specific days for work to be completed on each floor, and had contracting teams rotate through apartments on those days. To get resident consent for in-unit work, French Apartments’ staff worked with SWA to develop educational materials in four languages – English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese – to inform residents about why and when work would be completed in their apartments. They also held community meetings with translators present, to answer tenant questions and explain the benefits of the steam system upgrades. While tenants were initially a bit skeptical, the outreach efforts were highly successful in gaining their cooperation.

The steam system upgrades were a greater success than I expected. French Apartments now uses far less energy and residents are more comfortable. Based on this experience, we’re looking into similar improvements across our portfolios.Paul Rode, Related Companies

Available For You


  • System Upgrade
  • Multi-Family

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