Officials Applaud Energy-Efficient, All-Electric
New Paltz Firehouse as a Forward-Looking Model
NEW PALTZ, NY — May 12, 2022 — On the day of the Hudson Valley public hearing in Peekskill on the State’s plan to eliminate climate-damaging emissions in the coming decades, elected officials at state, county, and local levels gathered in front of the site of the new New Paltz Firehouse–a model building aligned with the state’s climate goals–to express support for a rapid statewide shift to a clean energy economy.
State Senator Michelle Hinchey, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, Ulster County Legislator Eve Walter, New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez, Village Mayor Tim Rogers, and Village Trustee and volunteer firefighter William Wheeler Murray spoke at the event, which was emceed by former State Senator Jen Metzger, who is Senior Policy Advisor to New Yorkers for Clean Power (NYCP). They were joined by New Paltz Fire Department Chief Cory Wirthmann and Rick Alfandre of Alfandre Architecture, PC, the architect for the new firehouse, which will be energy-efficient, all-electric and solar-ready when completed.
The event, co-sponsored by the Town and Village of New Paltz and Hudson Valley-based New Yorkers for Clean Power (NYCP), was organized to coincide with a public hearing on the State’s proposed “Scoping Plan,” held later that day in Peekskill. The plan is intended to meet the goals of New York’s ambitious 2019 climate law, and the design of the firehouse, free of fossil fuels, is an example of the kind of building the Scoping Plan envisions for New York. The climate law requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The law also requires that New York generate 100% of its electricity from clean and renewable resources by 2040. A recent State report estimates that meeting the emissions goals of the 2019 Climate Act will add 189,000 jobs across the state by 2030 (268,000 by 2050), with over half of new jobs in the buildings sector.
“There is no question that building a clean and renewable energy-powered society must be our top priority. It’s our path to fight the climate crisis and to bolster a new industry that is good for our economy and will make life more affordable for everyday New Yorkers,” said Senator Michelle Hinchey. “Across our region, communities–like New Paltz–are leading the charge, showing us that we have the technology right now to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels, giving us a real chance to save our planet. As a co-sponsor of the All-Electric Buildings Act, I’m proud to champion efforts in the Senate to ensure New York is on the leading-edge of green energy innovation, and I strongly support the NYS Climate Action Council’s work to develop a Scoping Plan that serves as a blueprint for this urgently needed transition.”
“I applaud the State’s effort to shift to a clean energy economy, and the New Paltz firehouse is a model of how our communities can make an impact and eliminate climate-damaging emissions,” said Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan. “It’s critical for all of us to be partners in laying the foundations for a transition to clean energy, protecting and regenerating our natural resources and undoing generations of economic and environmental injustice. That’s why a strong and effective Scoping Plan is an important outcome from today’s public hearing in Peekskill–we need to shift off of fossil fuels and create new opportunities for everyone in the green energy economy.”
The public comment period on the Scoping Plan is open through June 10, and eight in-person hearings have been held across the state thus far, as well as two virtual hearings. The Hudson Valley hearing was not originally part of the State’s hearing plan, but was added to the schedule in response to a letter signed by over 540 elected officials, organizations, residents, and businesses to the NYS Climate Action Council (CAC), urging that a hearing on the plan be added for the region.
“We pushed for this hearing because the Hudson Valley has an enormous stake in efforts to reduce the severity of climate change and bolster our resilience to its effects,” said NYCP Senior Policy Advisor and former State Senator Jen Metzger, who penned the letter to the CAC. “Our region has also shown tremendous leadership on climate over the years, and has valuable experience and perspectives to contribute to this critical state planning effort.”
That leadership was on display in New Paltz, as local officials highlighted the importance of future-proofing new buildings.
The New Paltz firehouse, a collaboration between the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) and the Village and Town of New Paltz, will be a nearly 16,000 square foot facility with an emphasis on energy efficiency and safety for the New Paltz Fire Department’s (NPFD) all volunteer membership. The building will be thermally insulated, with an efficient HVAC system for heating and cooling and heat pumps for hot water. No fossil fuels will be used in the firehouse’s daily operations. Power will be procured from renewable sources off-site initially, but the plan is to install an on-site photovoltaic system on the roof.
“New Paltz’s local governments and fire department members insisted that our once in a generation station be a cost-effective building and also energy efficient, fully taking into account the global climate emergency,” said New Paltz Village Mayor Tim Rogers. “We are proud to share that this building did not cost more, as some consultants had originally suggested. This state-of-the-art building should make our green- and taxpayer-minded community proud.”
“Shifting to a clean energy economy is not only essential for our survival but it can also be done through initiatives that provide long-term savings for taxpayers, as well,” said New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez. “Adopting a strong and effective Scoping Plan that will meet the emissions reduction goals of New York’s Climate Act is a crucial step in this process, and I wholeheartedly support the NYS Climate Action Council’s efforts toward this end.”
Buildings are the largest source of climate-damaging emissions in the state (32%), primarily from combustion of fossil fuels for heating and hotwater, and a key strategy of the Scoping Plan is to require construction of new buildings to be efficient and all-electric, beginning in 2024 for most residential buildings and in 2027 for commercial buildings and residential buildings over four stories. A bill introduced in the State Legislature, the All-Electric Buildings Act, would require all-electric new construction for all buildings in 2024, and was the subject of a State Assembly on the same day as the New Paltz event and Hudson Valley Scoping Plan hearing.
“The Fire Department is committed to providing exemplary emergency service to the New Paltz Community,” said New Paltz Fire Chief Cory Whirthmann. “Choosing to construct an energy efficient building is furthering our commitment to the environment within our district that will ultimately affect the residents and businesses we serve.”
“The firehouse’s design and purpose could not have come at a more critical time for this community and beyond with its climate friendly technology, as well as the pressing need it answers for our fire department,” said William Wheeler Murray, New Paltz Village Trustee and a member of the all-volunteer New Paltz Fire Department. “Renewable and independent energy are key to a positive future and the firehouse is a testament of what can be done with forward thinking design and leadership.”
New Paltz is also home to a community of 16 net-zero single-family residences, and most recently, a new energy efficient, all-electric, net-zero 46-unit building that is heated and cooled by geothermal, and powered by 588 solar panels on the roof.
“I am fortunate to live in a net-zero house and drive an electric car, allowing me to pay next to nothing to provide my home with electricity and eliminating my reliance on oil,” said Ulster County Legislator Eve Walter. “But we need a shift to a green economy to assure that these opportunities become affordable and available to everyone.”
NYS Climate Action Council Member Raya Salter applauded the support by local political leaders, and noted: “It is urgent that the Climate Scoping plan hears the voices of residents and prioritizes the health and economic development of frontline communities as NY’s 2019 law, the CLCPA, requires.”
The Construction Manager for the firehouse project is the Palombo Group with prime contractors Green Meadows, site preparation; Meyer Contracting Corp., general contractor; Hudson Valley Electrical Construction & Maintenance Inc., electrical contractor; Ashley Mechanical Inc., mechanical contractor; and, S & L Plumbing and Heating, plumbing contractor.