To meet New York City’s climate goals, tens of thousands of existing apartment buildings need to be retrofitted with new energy-efficient technologies. But it can be disruptive to make these improvements while people are living inside.

Ryan Cassidy is with the nonprofit Riseboro Community Partnership, which owns and manages affordable housing developments in the city.

He says conducting deep retrofits can be done without displacing residents.

“We don’t have to do all that work in the inside a building. We can do it from the outside,” he says.

At an aging apartment complex in Brooklyn, his group is replacing old HVAC systems with efficient air source heat pumps, and they’re moving as much of the infrastructure as possible to the exterior of the building.

“So we’re putting condensers on the roof and running refrigerant line sets down the outside of the building,” Cassidy says.

Then they’re covering those lines with a new, highly insulated building façade.

He says this project need not be a one-off.

“These buildings are pretty standard New York City buildings. They’re all between three and five stories, walk-up, brick exterior, so a pretty large swath of buildings would fall into that category,” he says.

So he hopes it can serve as a model for other building owners in the city.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.