Special Initiatives

Green Initiatives & Sustainable Technology

WSFSSH is committed to reducing the carbon emissions of its buildings and to sustainable building practices and purchasing. This commitment has taken many forms:

NYSERDA Programs:

WSFSSH has applied for and received funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to conduct energy audits and implement recommended energy conservation measures in 11 buildings. These measures included:

  • Energy Management Systems
  • Boiler Replacement
  • Water Saving Devices
  • Bi-Level Lighting, Compact Fluorescent Lighting and Occupancy Sensors
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Insulation and Weather Stripping

TOTAL FUNDING: $1.2 million (NYSERDA – $550,000, Owner – $650,000)


WSFSSH has also used Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funding in five buildings to conduct energy audits and implement recommended measures.  These measures included:

  • Boiler and Pump Replacement
  • Insulation and Weather Stripping
  • Window Replacement
  • Ventilation System Overhaul Including CAR (Constant Air Regulator) Dampers
  • Water Saving Devices
  • Energy Efficient Lighting Replacement and Occupancy Sensors
  • Chill Stoppers for Air Conditioners
  • Energy Star Appliances

TOTAL FUNDING:  $1.7 million (WAP – $1.1 million, Owner – $600,000)

NYSERDA MPP Helps Red Oak Apartments Go Green from Tennessee Watson on Vimeo.

HUD Green Retrofit Program

WSFSSH applied for and received funding under the federal stimulus program to implement an $823,900 HUD Green Retrofit Grant at Kurt and Leah Schneider Apartments, a 55-unit HUD-assisted elderly housing project.  The energy measures included

  • Combination Solar and Green Roof
  • Rain Water Catchment System
  • CAR Dampers in Tenant Apartments
  • Water Saving Devices
  • Energy Star Refrigerator and Air Conditioners in Tenant Apartments
  • Energy Efficient Central Air Conditioning and Windows on Ground Floor
  • Energy Management System
  • Green-Based Masonry Work with Lime Mortar
  • Hallway Painting with no-VOC paint
  • Occupancy Sensors
Green Roofs and Reflective Roofs:

WSFSSH has installed green roofs on four of its buildings – Revella, GrandParent Family Apartments, 208 West 84th Street and Kurt and Leah Schneider Apartments. Green roofs are created by covering a conventional roof with layers of waterproofing, drainage, soil, and plants. By replacing heat-trapping roof surfaces with vegetation, green roofs keep buildings cooler, save energy and filter pollutants from the air.  Very importantly green roofs absorb storm water which otherwise can overwhelm our sewers and pollute our rivers and water supply.  WSFSSH’s other roofs are covered with reflective paint as an additional energy saving measure.

Tenant and Staff Education:

WSFSSH is putting together a tenant and staff education program around Carbon Reduction and Green Living.  Among the initiatives taken by the Living Green Team is this video focused on encouraging participation in the recycling program:

English subtitles:

Spanish subtitles:

Energy Tracking and Analysis:

WSFSSH has tracked its energy and water consumption and cost since 2005.  We are currently embarking on the difficult task of analyzing the data and converting it into user-friendly formats for building management and senior WSFSSH staff.  Our goals are to understand how much difference our energy measures have made in terms of carbon emissions and cost savings, and to have a real-time system to alert us to any unusual water or energy use.

 Additional Initiatives Under Consideration
  • Composting in connection with the over 1,000 meals a day that WSFSSH prepares
  • Comprehensive purchasing program for green cleaning and maintenance supplies
  • Landscaping using sedums instead of grass
  • Porous concrete and paver systems for sidewalks and parking areas, thereby reducing storm water flow into the NYC sewer system
  • Water catchment systems to use for landscape irrigation
  • Lower flow toilets and grey water initiatives
  • On-going program of infrared scanning and blower door tests to monitor air leakage in our buildings
  • Insulated shades / blinds for windows
  • Comprehensive program of Chill Stoppers for window and sleeve air conditioners
  • Review of ventilation systems in all buildings:  consideration of roof top fan timers, CAR dampers and VFD (Variable Frequent Drive) motors
  • CHP (Combined Heat and Power) – on-site generation of electricity from gas, using waste heat to produce hot water
  • Solar hot water
  • Photovoltaic solar electricity using Sun Tracker technology

Nutrition Program

WSFSSH recognizes that healthy and mindful eating is an important practice for all of us. In the over 1,000 meals that we provide each day in our five congregate care buildings and at our senior center, WSFSSH’s full-time Registered Dietician ensures that WSFSSH residents are eating a wholesome and well-balanced diet. Our dietician supports tenants in all of our buildings by offering nutrition, cooking, and weight loss workshops, diabetic support groups, and one-on-one nutritional counseling.

Housing Preservation

In addition to building new housing, WSFSSH is strongly committed to the preservation of low income housing.

Preservation of WSFSSH Buildings:

WSFSSH has successfully preserved several of the buildings in its portfolio as permanent affordable housing.

  •  Marseilles Apartments:  In 2004 WSFSSH financed the purchase of the Marseilles Apartments, a 135-unit HUD-assisted elderly housing project.  The Marseilles opened in 1980 and was WSFSSH’s first project.  However, it was originally financed through a limited partnership of which WSFSSH owned only a 0.2% general partnership interest.  Thanks to the forward thinking of WSFSSH’s general counsel, language was inserted in the original partnership agreement which gave WSFSSH great leverage when it bought out its partners in 2004.  The project is now 100% owned and controlled by WSFSSH. (View the building)
  • Fania Gersham Apartments:  In 2006 WSFSSH successfully refinanced Fania Gersham Apartments, a 29-unit HUD-assisted elderly housing project.  The project opened in 1988 and was originally financed under HUD’s Section 202 program.  Under the 2006 refinancing the HUD mortgage was paid off and $700,000 in building improvements were undertaken using tax credit equity and bond financing. (View the building)
  • Year 15 Preservation:   WSFSSH has successfully preserved its two earliest tax credit projects which had reached “Year 15”, the year when the tax credit investor can exit from the project.  At Kowal House (73-unit SRO) the Year 15 process resulted in an additional $465,000 recapitalization of the building which paid for new kitchens, public hallway improvements, energy efficiency measures and greater handicap accessibility. (View Kowal House)  At the Westbourne (128-unit SRO) the Year 15 process is resulting in a $2 million renovation of the building.  (View the Westbourne) Both buildings are 100% controlled by WSFSSH and are now permanently preserved as low income supportive housing.
 At-Risk Housing Portfolios in the Community:
  • HUD-assisted and Mitchell-Lama rental housing on the Upper West Side
  • HUD Section 202/811  rental housing for seniors and the disabled  in New York City
  • Privately-owned Single Room Occupancy (SRO) buildings on the Upper West Side.

These studies have helped to identify buildings which we and other non-profit housing organizations may wish to target for purchase and preservation.  Both the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) are now using the methods of our studies to track and preserve properties that may be at risk of foreclosure or opt-out in the future.

ANHD Permanent Affordability Campaign:

As a member of ANHD, WSFSSH has played an active and on-going role in ANHD’s campaign for permanent affordability of publicly-funded low income housing stock.   A report from ANHD on this and other important housing policy issues can be found here:  www.anhd.org/resources-reports/policy-reports.

 Supportive Congregate Housing

In the wake of the Adult Home scandals of 2002, WSFSSH staff and residents created the Supportive Congregate Housing model, a permanent housing model for individuals who experience significant difficulty with activities of daily living.  Such difficulties may result from serious and persistent mental illnesses, physical frailty, the trauma of homelessness, or mild cognitive illnesses.  The Supportive Congregate Housing model provides 24-hour supportive services within a structured environment.  The services provided in this setting support the integrity and independence of each person in an effort to support the residents’ choice to live safely and with dignity within the community.  In December 2010, WSFSSH turned this model from vision to reality with the opening of The Claremont, a 115-unit building located on College Avenue in the Bronx.