Skip to content

2021 Webinar Series

Webinar - April 6th, 2021

It’s certainly intuitive to promote building envelope improvements prior to, or concurrent with heat pump conversions. The thinking is to lower the building’s energy requirements, install a smaller heat pump and get even lower operating costs. With limited dollars, how should we think about envelope upgrades in relation to heat pump installation?  For a range of circumstances? How should NYS’s aggressive carbon reduction goals with projections of 100% clean electricity by 2040 influence our approach? Our speakers will provide perspectives on this important set of relationships.


  • Hal Smith / Halco Energy
  • Courtney Moriarta / NYSERDA
  • Kevin Moravec / VanHee Mechanical

Webinar Q & A

  1. We do have geothermal, thanks, John!  Recently a plumber told us that heat pumps don't work below 20*.  What is the truth?  I was suggesting he recommend heat pumps.
    1. Ground source heat pumps (aka geothermal heat pumps) don't know what temperature it is outside so they will work at the most extreme outdoor conditions.  Air-source heat pumps are certainly impacted more by outdoor conditions. But newer versions of ASHPs now can operate down to very cold temperatures - like negative 22F.  Older ASHPs which is what many people are referencing when they say "heat pumps' ' used to shut off at temperatures like 20F or even 30F and rely on a full backup system.  Bottom line, all heat pumps are better today, with GSHPs maintaining operation and excellent efficiency even on extremely cold days.
  2. Will all the guests share their decks - or do we need to take screen shots along the way? Thanks!
    1. We will share the slides.  The first three speakers have decks, and Doreen Harris will be speaking without slides.
  3. What climate groups are you partnered with in your lobbying efforts? How can we engage the public in joining in this advocacy? Who are the key members of congress that you feel you need to move?
    1. We have worked with NRDC, ELPC, and Sierra Club in the past. Please shoot me a note at and we can get you plugged into our efforts. Thanks!
  4. is the ad campaign free PSA commercials
    1. Please check out some of the campaign spots here:
  5. Please explain why you support credit for fuel cells? Don't they use the same natural gas that is produced by fracking leak methane, and releases carbon dioxide that also causes climate change?  If you are thinking about fuel cells that use "green hydrogen", that's a good number of years off in any quantity.
    1. We are working to extend credits for geothermal heat pumps. We have no position on fuel cells.
  6.  Can young ("climate corps") workers everywhere dig the ditches for geothermal "all over the place" without a whole lot of bureaucracy
    1. Job creation is a big part of the Biden plan. Please read more here:
  7. Do we HAVE to USE PVC-plastic pipes for geothermal? (toxic plastic plants proliferation problem!!)  Can't we use metal pipes, some already there from steam etc  (I'm in BACKWARD NC)
    1. The most common material is High Density Polyethylene HDPE.  It's plastic but a good use of plastics in my view - it does not have the negative aspects of PVC, and is highly ductile too.  It's the same pipe used for potable water - and actually much of the new natural gas piping too.  Look up hdpe and I think you'll find it's a pretty compelling material for carrying renewable thermal energy below the ground.
  8. I think Ron was asking about the co-branded NYSERDA/utilities campaign that is launching on April 12th. Is that right, Ron?
    1. NYSERDA has pledged matching funds for the Geothermal for All campaign. It is just one of many such NYSERDA-sponsored efforts.
  9. Has there been any Hempcrete home construction partnered with Geothermal in NY?
    1. Aztech Geothermal has not done a hempcrete project but I don't see a reason why it wouldn't work well with a heat pump home.  Maybe you can reply with a link about hempcrete so people can learn more.
  10. In addition to geo heat pumps, will NYSERDA be considering incentives for low ambient air-to-water heat pump systems?
    1. Heat pump incentives are provided through
  11. Why is the implementation of the rule ending gas in new and renovated housing delayed for 5+ years? It needs to happen immediately: the HVAC industry transition will follow rapidly when this is in place.
    1. Certainly many people feel the way you do.  It’s a hot topic in the Climate Action Council and related Energy Efficiency and Housing Panel (a subgroup of the CAC).  Stay tuned and look for opportunities to provide support for your ideas.  Many of the meetings are public with stakeholder input permitted.
  12. Geothermal community heating districts.  Any federal assistance with funding available under the new infrastructure legislation?
    1. There's nothing in the plan that points specifically to district systems, but there's certainly potential for funding within the rough parameters. DOE has been asking us recently for more information on district geo, so clearly the administration is starting to think about the potential.
  13. According to my understanding of the NYS Clean Heat program, utility incentives are provided as an electric measure but NYPA customers are not eligible for incentives. One project when considering geothermal would save 450,000 Btu/h on the thermal side and 600,00 Btu/h on the cooling side. Are there any opportunities to help non-SBC paying customers make the transition to geothermal?
    1. This was answered live by Doreen Harris.  And, it’s not a simple and clear path for non-SBC customers/buildings presently.
  14. Will community thermal systems include funding or technical assistance for qualified energy managers to oversee the maintenance and operation of community systems?
    1. Answered live by John Ciovacco and Doreen Harris.  The basic answer is not specifically but it could be put in as a budget item in a groups proposal to the PON.  Probably a good idea.  It’s not excluded certainly as long as you provide justification for the budget item.
  15. Plenty of interest in co op and condo apartments but it’s all about financing. And do you actually save/reduce greenhouse gases if you don’t insulate the buildings?
    1. Electrification using heat pumps is the strongest tool we have for carbon reduction.  Even without doing any envelope work.  But of course, it’s better if we can do both and some buildings will not be comfortable unless envelope work is done in advance of a heat pump installation.
  16. Today, people think of “infrastructure” as being just what we have today. But, it seems to me that we need to expand our vision of infrastructure to include new kinds of infrastructure, such as low-temperature district heating, that we’ve never built in the past but should in the future. As we pursue this Second Great Electrification of our economy, shouldn’t we also broaden our understanding of the kinds of infrastructure that should be built to meet society’s needs?
    1. Live answered but certainly recognized as a good point!
  17. Doreen great presentation you mentioned 164,000 clean energy drop off how many jobs were there that fell off the map
  18. Any coordination with other states? Compared to what is going on in California?
    1. Live answered by Doreen Harris. Yes certainly compare notes on many things but tend to be more internally focused on things like job creation through workforce development.
  19. What were community providers for prototypes of Geo net zero affordable housing?
    1. Recommend you watch Session #2 of which is the first two Top Job Finalist.  The ZBF Geothermal project called Dunes II is an affordable housing geothermal project.  Not 100% sure it’s net-zero but worth watching!
  20. Can you clarify what policies will allow us to retrofit all existing buildings in the state in the next 30 years? Considering that purchasing decisions are made and costs borne by millions of individual households and businesses?
    1. Certainly recognized as a daunting challenge!  There are many unanswered questions on how we get from here to there. At least we have the framework of the Climate Action Council process and resulting recommendations to attempt to address questions like you are asking.
  21. Do you have any further information about district geo/ case studies?
  22. Bill Nowak had to skip over the slide discussing the impact that inequitable electric rates have on the adoption of heat pumps. (i.e. the “inverse cost shift” or subsidy that GHP users are forced to pay to support low electric prices for users of fossil fuel heating.) Will this “conference” have a future session that addresses this issue in depth?
    1. We have 4 sessions on Policy topics.  I'll look to see how to fit it into one of those sessions.  You may even end up on a panel.
  23. What are we doing to improve available electric tariffs for Heat Pumps? Are there any good experiments or modeling exercises to look at? What are the challenges?
  24. For Doreen - NYSERDA CEC Coordinators say that they "need to remain agnostic when it comes to private companies" and won't promote trade-ally events. Is this something that can be changed?
  25. John, I asked b/c I already know y'all think plastic is great or whatever, (ask the ppl on Ohio River giant benzene-spewing new plants not just New Orleans anymore) but I asked does it HAVE TO BE PLASTIC PIPES
    1. It doesn’t have to be plastic but HDPE is the best overall choice relative to metals or composites (which really are plastics too).  I recognize they are not natural materials but if we are going to use a petroleum product, it’s perhaps better to make it a plastic used to convey renewable thermal energy than to use it in a single pass combustion, which is how most fossil fuels are used today.  Steel is your next best bet.
  26. Ryan, I was asking about the co-branded NYSERDA/utilities campaign that is launching on April 12th. Are those commercials done free on networks and cable as Public Service Commercials?
    1. Sorry for my misinterpretation, Ron. I can only speak to our Geo For All campaign which is all-digital. I think there are others in the program which may be on television, but I'm not sure.
  27.  I was hoping the federal government would lend a hand and not just NYS pulling all the weight. This is appreciated news!
    1. The stars seem to be aligning. Now we've got to capture that momentum!
  28. Are there any efforts to advance the Pay as you save (PAYS) model in New York that can help customers to finance geothermal systems?
  29. What is being done with New York's utilities?  The natural gas grid has long been established.  What about ground source water grids for large community geothermal systems?
  30. Where can I find the schedule of future talks in this series?
    1. You can find the schedule on the NYGEO website -
  31. NY-GEO has helped make New York a leader in this market. How can NY-GEO help other states build industry organizations that achieve in those states what has been accomplished here?
Scroll To Top