June 02, 2011

First Fuel Cell To Power Residential Building In New York

By: by Michelle Lauterwasser, Becker and Becker


(ROOSEVELT ISLAND, N.Y., (May 27, 2011) - Yesterday, The Octagon, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design®(LEED) Silver 500-unit apartment community on Roosevelt Island, made green history by becoming the first residential building in the State of New York to be powered and heated by a 400 kilowatt (kW) fuel cell from UTC Power. This installation marks a paradigm shift in the State's use of clean energy technologies, made possible through New York's progressive stance on energy policy. The project was supported by $1.2 million in financial incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The fuel cell arrived on Roosevelt Island this winter and is now operating at full capacity.

"Roosevelt Island is a place where progressive green initiatives are at the forefront of our smart growth plans. We are proud of our island partners, including Becker + Becker, who are contributing to a greener Island and a cleaner City," said Leslie Torres, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, the New York State Public Benefit Corporation responsible for the development and operation of Roosevelt Island.

The fuel cell, a PureCell® System Model 400, is a combined heat and power (CHP) system that represents a game-changing technology. It converts natural gas to electricity and heat through a combustion-free, electrochemical process to provide power and heat to meet the majority of the apartment building's energy demand. The energy efficiency achieved by the fuel cell is significantly higher than the energy received from the grid and emissions are negligible. Additionally, the fuel cell's process heat is captured to satisfy the building's space heating and domestic water requirements.

"We are so proud that the Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT) and Becker + Becker have selected UTC Power's PureCell System to provide reliable on-site power to this innovative and historic project," said Neal Montany, Director of UTC Power's stationary fuel cell business. "It is truly rewarding to know that the benefits of our efficient and clean fuel cell technology will touch the daily lives of the residents of The Octagon."

"On-site fuel cell technology represents the future of electricity generation in this country," said Bruce Becker, President, Becker + Becker, the building's developer and architect. "Traditionally, large capacity fuel cells are utilized at schools, hospitals, and other energy-intensive facilities, but multifamily residential buildings represent a perfect - heretofore uncultivated - opportunity for fuel cell technology because of their ability to continually utilize the fuel cell's process heat in the form of hot water and space heating demand." The application of the fuel cell at The Octagon is estimated to reduce the carbon emissions of the site by 790 metric tons annually.

NYSERDA's award winning CHP Demonstration Program helps showcase pioneering fuel cell projects, such as The Octagon. To encourage others to adopt fuel cell technology, NYSERDA's $21.6 million Customer-Sited Tier Fuel Cell Program provides an incentive toward the cost of fuel cell installations, plus payments over the first three years of operation based on power produced. Funding is awarded to applications received on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"Fuel cells present a promising technology that NYSERDA strongly supports," said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA. "I commend The Octagon for the innovative energy and environmental investments throughout its facility for which all residents can be proud, and look forward to partnering on future clean energy projects."

In addition to The Octagon, a variety of facilities around the state are installing or operating fuel cells funded partially by NYSERDA, including a Price Chopper store (Colonie), a Coca-Cola Refreshments bottling facility (Elmsford), and the East Rochester Central School District.

With its breakthrough utilization of fuel cell power and range of other efficiency measures, such as a 50 kW solar photovoltaic array, The Octagon has become a nationally recognized model for green building. It is a certified LEED Silver community, utilizing approximately 35% less energy than required by code. Having received financial support from NYSERDA, for energy efficiency measures and now the fuel cells, The Octagon is an example of the successful public-private partnerships forged by NYSERDA to advance New York's ambitious energy and environmental goals.

The Octagon fuel cell required a significant upfront investment by the primary investor in the building, MEPT, a Union Pension fund committed to responsible property investing. The project received a grant from NYSERDA to cover approximately half the cost of the fuel cell unit. Additionally, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the project will qualify for a federal refundable tax credit to cover approximately 30% of the installation cost. This assistance, in addition to the annual energy savings the fuel cell will produce, allow for a payback of approximately five years.

About The Octagon

A beautifully restored, award-winning Manhattan landmark, The Octagon is Roosevelt Island's greenest waterfront residence. Completed in 2006, The Octagon houses 500 luxury rental apartments. For more information, please visit or call 212.888.8NYC.

About UTC Power

UTC Power, a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company, is a world leader in developing and producing fuel cells that generate energy for buildings and for transportation, space and defense applications. The company, with more than 50 years of experience, is based in South Windsor, Conn. UTC Power is the only fuel cell company in the world to have worked with all five major fuel cell technologies and to produce fuel cells for both stationary and transportation applications. For more information, please visit 


NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.