Towards Electrification: A (Last-Minute) Swap to Reduce Fossil Fuel at The Grand Street Residences on the Lower East Side

Date Published May 19, 2022
Category Sustainable Design
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Handel Architects is working with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and the Grand Street Guild on a new 232-unit 100% affordable project on the Lower East Side.

The passage of New York's Local Law 97 -- combined with the growing citywide movement to reduce the use of fossil fuels -- has inspired Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and the Grand Street Guild to make two important decisions regarding their new 232-unit, 100%-affordable project on the Lower East Side. With construction documents complete and the groundbreaking on the near horizon, the two groups have given the green light for the Handel Architects-led design team to use electric-powered PTHPs (Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps) in place of gas-fired, through-wall PTACs (Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners), as well as to use electric ranges in place of gas ranges.


The once-popular PTAC units produce heat by burning gas and then distributing the warmed air by means of an electric-powered fan.

By contrast, the new, vastly more efficient PTHP units run purely on electricity, using built-in heat-pump compressors as well as fans to keep apartment dwellers comfortable without increasing their carbon footprint. This new piece of equipment has been expressly approved by the Housing and Preservation Department for use in affordable developments throughout New York City.

The conversion within the design documents took a scant three weeks and required new specifications, updates to riser diagrams, and revised panel schedules and MEP drawings.

Happily, the new PTHP units as well as the new electric ranges will slip into the same spaces as the previously specified appliances, leaving the apartment plans unchanged. Moreover, even though the project's gross electric usage will be increased by the change, the highly efficient new units -- along with the extensive reduction of gas and gas piping -- result in a cost savings and overall reduction in the building’s EUI (Energy Use Intensity) of fully 23%.

Handel Architects is proud to be working with such a climate-conscious team.

We are grateful to Monadnock Construction, Steven Winter Associates and Skyline Engineering for their expertise and guidance throughout this important and necessary process, marking yet another step forward in the total electrification of New York's buildings.

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