The Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge

What is the Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge?

Heating and cooling is the largest source of a building’s energy consumption - and here in New York State facility managers and building owners know that all too well. To help lower ongoing and volatile energy costs in colleges and universities, K-12 schools, government buildings, and hospitals, NYPA and NYSERDA present the Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge, which seeks to accelerate the installation of high quality ground-source heat pump (GSHP) systems.

The Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge was developed to stimulate and finance the installation of best-in-class, large-scale geothermal systems, known as ground-source heat pump (GSHP) systems. These systems reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing the use of these systems will play a major role in achieving Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal to reduce New York State’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030.

GSHP systems use consistent subsurface temperatures to heat and cool buildings. Through the Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge, NYPA and NYSERDA will identify the best candidates for large, multi-building GSHP systems and provide them with free technical assistance and financial support to install this cost-effective, comfortable, and clean technology.

The application phase concluded on April 30, 2018. Thank you for your submissions. Applications were accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until 75 sites were successfully enrolled in the program or up until April 30, 2018, whichever occurred first. With the application phase now closed no more submissions will be accepted.

Are you up to the challenge? Find out more:

The Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge is open to these New York State entities and organizations:

  • State and local governments entities
  • K–12 schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Healthcare organizations 

The sites must:

  • Be located in New York State
  • Have heating or cooling loads of at least 1.2MM Btu per hour (100 refrigeration tons)*
  • Applicants cannot have active commitments for studies of GSHP systems from NYPA, NYSERDA, or their local utility (though participation in NYSERDA’s GSHP Rebate initiative will not disqualify an applicant).
  • Provide all information requested by program administrators

The potential GSHP system(s) can be associated with new construction or existing buildings and can offset heating and cooling uses that would otherwise be provided by any energy source. Any typical GSHP configuration is eligible: closed-loop horizontal, vertical and direct exchange systems, open loop systems, and groundwater or surface water systems.

*100 tons will typically correspond to approximately 40,000 square feet of conditioned space for one or more buildings combined

How would an organization benefit from a GSHP system?

GSHP technology addresses many of the issues associated with conventional heating and cooling systems; and can:

Lower costs 
Provide a long-term heating and cooling solution with little maintenance
Achieve energy conservation goals and requirements
Enhance reliability and resiliency
Improve building performance and comfort
Lower harmful greenhouse gases emissions

The first 75 eligible applicants to the Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge will be able to take the first step to gaining these benefits using a free summary report provided by NYPA and NYSERDA. The free report will include a quantitative analysis of the technical and economic viability of their potential GSHP systems and a review of important qualitative factors specific to implementing their potential systems.

Participants with the best sites for GSHP systems will be eligible to receive financial assistance for detailed energy audits and schematic designs for a GSHP system. For more information, please continue reading the Selection Process.


What is the process, components and costs of the Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge?

There are four stages. An eligible organization must have site(s) (location of a potential GSHP system) and successfully apply to Stage 1. Those eligible participants that have successfully applied will receive the free summary report mentioned in the Benefits section. They must then meet other requirements to advance to successive stages.

Stage 1: Technical and economic Summary reports for the first 75 GSHP sites that successfully apply (no cost to participants)

Stage 2: Advanced reports, consisting of refined analysis and building energy models, will be provided for the top-ranked sites from the 75 accepted Stage 1 sites (no cost to participants)

Stage 3: Detailed design studies, including American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Level 2 targeted audits, site geotechnical testing and analyses, and schematic GSHP system design (cost to participants: eligible for payments of up to $125,000 per site from NYSERDA on a cost-share basis if the participant pays the Systems Benefits Charge (SBC) and eligible for NYPA financing regardless of SBC status) 

Stage 4: Project implementation assistance with financing, construction and rebates for deployment of best-in-class GSHP systems (cost to participants: GSHP system installation cost, with eligibility for NYPA financing; NYPA engineering, procurement and construction assistance; and NYSERDA GSHP rebates to help defray cost)

NYPA and NYSERDA will form a committee to rank the sites receiving Stage 1 summary reports. The following factors will play a role in the Stage 2 selection process:

Technical viability
Economic benefits
Greenhouse gas reductions
Readiness to implement
Accessibility of detailed data for screening analysis
Curriculum framework, professional development laboratory or other sustainable program commitment to a GSHP
Geographic and sectoral diversity

Will participants need to reapply for Stage 2? No. The ranking process described above will be performed for all Stage 1 sites. However, after applicants are selected for Stage 2, they may be asked for additional site information. 

Is selection to the advanced report stage required to be eligible for Stage 3 detailed design study matching funds? Yes. Organizations must successfully apply for Stage 1 summary reports, be selected for Stage 2 advanced reports and provide the information necessary for Stage 2 reports to be eligible for Stage 3 and any later studies, financial support or implementation services. 

The application phase concluded on April 30, 2018, and no more submission will be accepted. Applications were accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, and early completion was encouraged. Up to five sites could be listed on an application.

A site is defined as a single GSHP system that is connected to one or more buildings. To improve economic and environmental outcomes, NYSERDA and NYPA encourage applicants to prioritize potential GSHP systems that are connected to multiple buildings.

NYPA and NYSERDA reserve the right to update the application deadline or any other details regarding the Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge at any time. 

For questions please email:

Questions? Email us today about the Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge at