I’ve had the pleasure of working with Stephen and gbNYC over the past year and reporting on all things green across Upstate New York. I’d like to end the year by noting some of the biggest and best green news that came out of Upstate New York in 2007, as well as link you back to each of my monthly columns at the very bottom of this post. Happy New Year and best regards for 2008 to all of our readers!
U.S. Congressman John Hall of Dover Plains in Dutchess County Pushes Green Legislation in Congress
Hall, a first-term member of Congress, was a sponsor of the Rural Wind Energy Development Act, a bill currently in the House of Representatives that would provide a tax credit for the installation of wind energy equipment
“This would make it easier for families, small business and farms to use wind power,” Hall said. “The problem for most people is the up front cost, not to mention installation. There is currently no federal support for residential wind energy.”
Hall is also pushing the Buildings for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 539), which would expand federal tax deductions for energy efficient commercial buildings through 2013. The legislation proposes a deduction of $2.25 per square foot for buildings with energy efficiency improvements that slash energy use by at least 50 percent when compared to industry standards. The bill would also offer a $.75 per square foot deduction for improvements to lighting, heating and cooling systems.
Solar News From Across Upstate
The Kingston-based Solar Energy Consortium (“TSEC”) launched with up to $10 million in funding expected from federal and state sources. The consortium will link universities across the state with engineers, installers, and solar specialists to develop market friendly solar technology that will be manufactured in New York State.
The New York Solar Energy Society (“NYSES”) was formed and has pending official recognition to be part of the American Solar Energy Society (“ASES”), which is the affiliate of the International Solar Energy Society. New York is one of 30 states affiliated with ASES. NYSES was co-founded by a small group that included several upstate residents such as Bob Freeston of Orange Environment in Orange County. A national solar conference is planned in Buffalo for May 2009.
The Syracuse Carousel Center Mall Goes Green
Syracuse’s Carousel Center will switch to renewable energy sources and become the first super-regional shopping center in the nation to meet its electrical needs with green energy.
Developer Robert Congel said the mall will buy its electricity from Constellation Energy, a power wholesaler that sells renewable energy supplied by electricity retailers who meet stringent environmental auditing and reporting requirements. The power will be produced around the country and could include wind, solar, hydro and biomass.
Congel has pledged to power his entire Destiny USA, a 1.3 million-square-foot addition to the Carousel Center, with non-fossil fuels. Destiny is planned as a huge retail, hotel and entertainment complex.
USGBC Purchases Green Bonds for Destiny USA Project in Syracuse
USGBC announced plans to purchase some of the first federally sanctioned Green Bonds, part of $2 billion allocated by the United States Treasury to four development projects around the country. This first bond issue of $238 million was made by the Syracuse Industrial Development Authority for Destiny USA.
CH Energy to Build Bio-Electric Plant in Upstate New York
A subsidiary of CH Energy Group, Inc. agreed to supply the City of Auburn in Cayuga County with part of its energy needs by building and operating a 3-megawatt plant in Auburn that will use the city’s landfill and wastewater treatment facility as sources for biofuel. Up to $9.75 million will be invested in the project, which will include an anaerobic digester to convert wastewater sludge for electric generation and the sale of low-cost electricity to the city. The plant is slated for construction sometime in the spring of 2008.
Land Conservation Ranks High on Local Agendas
On the local front, many municipalities across New York State are considering passing real estate transfer taxes for open space preservation funds.
In Albany, Governor Eliot Spitzer’s 2007-2008 Executive Budget doubled the amount previously available for the New York State Conservation Partnership Program. The program provides funds to be used in partnership with qualified private conservation groups to save land that is important for local communities. The program budget was increased from $500,000 to $1,000,000. The program is administered by the Land Trust Alliance in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Nature Conservancy acquired 590 acres of property in the town of Shandaken, Ulster County to preserve Balsam High Peak, one of the thirty-five high peaks in the Catskills over 3,500 feet. The land was bought in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, to one of whom the property will eventually be transferred.
The Nature Conservancy also bought for $110 million the last big piece of privately owned timberland in the Adirondacks- 161,000 acres of hardwood forests, 80 mountain peaks, 70 crystal-clear lakes and ponds, undammed rivers, white water gorges and secluded bogs.
NYSERDA Announces $16 million in New Construction Green Funding.
The New Construction Program (NCP) can provide assistance to incorporate energy-efficiency measures into the design, construction, and operation of new and substantially renovated buildings. These measures are designed to save energy through reduced electric demand, and therefore reduce building operating costs.
The New Construction Program’s objective is to effect a permanent transformation in the way buildings are designed and constructed. The NCP meets this objective by providing technical assistance and financial incentives to design teams and building owners. NCP offers direct Technical Assistance (TA) design incentives and capital cost incentives based on improved building energy efficiency performance. Incentives are also available for building commissioning services, green buildings, peak-load reduction, energy benchmarking, and advanced solar and day lighting systems.
The current round of the NCP (PON 1155) is available on a first-come, first-served basis through March 31, 2008, or until funding in the program is exhausted- whichever comes first.
Biodegradable Plastic Development in Ithaca
Novomer, a Cornell University spin-off, in Ithaca, has come up with a method for making biodegradable plastics from carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Novomer’s use of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide as inexpensive feedstocks, instead of the corn-based feedstocks used by other biodegradable plastics, means that the company’s plastic won’t compete with food production. The technology centers on metallic catalysts that converts carbon dioxide into a polymer that could be used to make everyday items such as packaging, cups, and forks.
The plastic, which was originally created by a Cornell chemist is safe and strong enough to be used in medical implants and devices. The biodegradable plastic, which can decompose completely in as little as 6 months, is being made in pilot production now with plans to construct a manufacturing facility near a business that generates a lot of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, such as a cement plant.
- Special Report from Greenbuild 2006
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