By Mattie Fitzpatrick | September 25, 2023
UAlbany’s ETEC Building
Photo Credit: Lindon A. Paul / UAlbany
State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor John B. King Jr. and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) has recently announced the first ever issue of $113 million in sustainability bonds. This announcement came on Sept. 13, 2023 and was released on behalf of the SUNY system to support the sustainable renovations of dorm halls in accordance with Governor Kathy Hochul’s environmental goals.
These sustainability bonds, according to Chancellor King, were a “huge success” and they received “more offers to buy than there were bonds available to sell.” With a total of $113 million raised from these bonds, SUNY residence dormitories will be retrofitted along with SUNY sustainability goals in 450 dorms over 25 state-operated campuses.
These sustainability renovations include electrical projects, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning upgrades as well as roofing improvements. Directive IB-2 CLCPA, E.O. 22 and SUNY Policy Compliance released by the SUNY Construction Fund, Office of Design and Construction further elaborate on this plan.
HVAC systems will be electrically powered and fossil fueled central plants will only exist if the university can provide a plan of how to comply with the NY Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The act was signed into office by the New York State Senate in 2019 and commits to 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040. It also promises to restrict New York construction standards of fossil fuels by 2050 and mandates that 40% of state climate and energy funding be invested in disadvantaged communities across the state.
Governor Hochul also announced EmPower+ which reduces energy costs for low income New Yorkers. The program, run by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority aids in making home energy efficiency upgrades more affordable and accessible.
The program “is open to owners and renters of one to four-family households that have a household income below 80 percent of the State/Area Median Income, reside in a single-family home in a geographically eligible territory, or participate in a utility payment assistance program,” according to a press release released on Governor Hochul’s webpage. This program supports the Climate Act’s goal that at least 35% of benefits of investments support disadvantaged communities.
In compliance with these acts, Chancellor King said, “Given that SUNY represents 40% of all state-owned buildings in New York, we must lead the way in researching new measures and implementing proven ones to minimize our environmental impact.”
Although these funds have yet to be distributed to individual schools, Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, University at Albany’s Director of Communications and Marketing said, “Generally speaking, DASNY bonds are a major piece of how UAlbany funds residence hall renovations like those currently underway on Colonial Quad.”
Carleo-Evangelist expressed a plan for more UAlbany buildings to become increasingly energy-efficient. The university also plans to work towards earning a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification (LEED).
LEED is a sustainability certification system devised by the U.S. Green Building Council. “To achieve LEED certification, a project earns points by adhering to prerequisites and credits that address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health and indoor environmental quality” according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
There are four classifications for LEED ratings. Platinum which means that the project has earned 80+ points in terms of addressing environmental quality for the above fields, Gold which is 60-79 points, Silver which is 50-59 points, and certified which is 40-49 points.
UAlbany currently has 11 LEED buildings including the Massry Center for Business and Liberty Terrace which are both rated LEED Gold, Husted Hall which is rated LEED Silver and UAlbany’s Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (ETEC) which is LEED Platinum the highest rating possible. In total, UAlbany has three LEED Silver rating buildings, two LEED Platinum buildings, and 6 LEED Gold rated buildings.
UAlbany’s ETEC was finished in 2021 and is one of two LEED Platinum buildings on UAlbany’s campuses. It was built with sustainability in mind and recently was named the 2023 Green Building of the Year by the U.S. Green Building Council of Upstate New York.
Carleo-Evangelist stated, “ETEC, our newest building, is also LEED Platinum, but that’s a bit different because we were able to build it from the ground up.” The ETEC complex was recently named the 2023 Green Building of the Year by the U.S. Green Building Council of Upstate New York.
Gov. Hochul’s goals include creating a Cap-and-Invest Program in partnership with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSRDA). This program will establish a declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions and invest in programs focused on disadvantaged communities and economically vulnerable households.
“Our ambitious Cap-and-Invest Program sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and shares the revenues with New Yorkers from disadvantaged communities to help cover utility bills, transportation costs and decarbonization efforts,” Gov. Hochul said in a press release.
A timeline is not yet available for these renovations but these sustainability bonds will make buildings on campus “more energy efficient and more sustainable,” Carleo-Evangelist said.