Private companies, nonprofit organizations and governmental institutions have been finding effective ways to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

They are incorporating more sources of renewable energy into their plans for powering their facilities. This reduces their reliance on fossil fuels, which lowers the risks of global warming.

But a major challenge on this front remains. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems primarily use oil products of some kind. Adapting these to use renewable energy sources isn’t an easy problem to solve.

State officials are encouraging individuals to test out new ideas on how to make this a practical reality. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is overseeing the Community Heat Pump Systems Pilot Program, which will make $15 million in grant funding available for research on this topic.

“New York state is making $15 million in grant money available for community heating system development as part of its push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the state more eco-friendly. Through the Community Heat Pump Systems Pilot Program, the state will accept proposals to study, design and implement thermal systems, based on heat pump technology, that can provide heating or cooling to multiple buildings,” according to a story published Saturday by the Watertown Daily Times. “Currently, heating and cooling for buildings accounts for about 33% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and energy demands for climate control grow year after year. According to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act passed by the state Legislature in 2019, New York must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050.

“The program, administered by [NYSERDA], will offer grants to the most competitive proposals. It will consider heat pump systems that utilize the ground, air, water or a combination of the three to heat or cool a group of buildings,” the article reported. “Teams made up of property owners, consultants, developers and engineers will be able to submit a proposal for one of four categories: scoping studies to determine the feasibility of a community heat pump system; detailed design studies to evaluate the legal, financial and technical responsibilities of those who wish to join the proposed system; construction of the system itself; and best practices guidebooks to guide future community heat pump system developments. Participants can receive between $100,000 to $4 million if their proposals are selected, depending on the category they apply for, to be used for the development of their proposed systems.”

Clarkson University in Potsdam has been lauded for its efforts to obtain its power from renewable sources of energy. In 2017, the school set a goal of eliminating its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

And by early 2020, it achieved its objective of getting all its electricity from green resources. But the school acknowledges that it still needs natural gas to heat its buildings and provide hot water to people on campus.

This grant program administered by NYSERDA is an excellent way to kick start research projects into converting heating and cooling systems. According to information on, this can be accomplished by using geothermal heat pumps, ice-powered air conditioning and solar HVAC units.

So there are some ideas out there for increasing the use of renewable sources of energy. We urge local researchers to consider applying for funds through the Community Heat Pump Systems Pilot Program to explore this issue further. Visit its website at for more information.

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(3) comments


Aren't heat pumps ineffective at really freezing temperatures? The might help when it's 30 but not when it's ten below. Or is this a different technology?


Heat pumps are less efficient the further north you go. Not only are they extremely expensive, they use environmentally questionable fluids within the unit, they still have to use electric power however, if you want to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer, heat pumps are it.


Indian River installed geo thermal, water to air, heat pumps in a building in 2002. Testing revealed it was the most efficient when measured by BTU consumption per square foot. It was more expensive per square foot because it uses electricity. Heat pump technology has come a long way since the ones alluded to in prior comments. Couple geothermal heat pumps with solar, wind, hydro, and, yes, nuclear power, and you take a big bite out of carbon emissions.

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