New York Housing Units to Use Solar Power

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced that the Octagon Park Apartments will receive up to US$250,000 in funding to support the installation of photovoltaic (PV) panels that will generate solar electricity for the multifamily building.

Roosevelt Island, New York – May 19, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The decision marks the second “green building” award to the project this year, following the announcement of US$6 million in Green Building Tax Credits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in February. “Solar panels are a cost-effective solution to managing electricity costs. Octagon Park Apartments will not only save on electricity costs, but become more energy independent,” said NYSERDA Acting President Peter R. Smith. “NYSERDA’s programs offer the technical and financial assistance necessary for most alternative energy projects, which ultimately helps the customer save on energy bills and improve New York’s environment.” According to the project’s developer, Bruce Becker of Becker and Becker Associates of New Canaan, Connecticut, the Octagon Park Apartments plans to install a set of solar panels, mounted flat on the roof, that will generate up to 50 kW, enough to power common areas, including lights, mechanical systems and elevators. The photovoltaic panels are an important part of the project’s “Green Building” designation, according to Becker. “The panels won’t be apparent by looking at the building, but they will reduce electrical demand significantly – especially on sunny summer days when demand is highest and the electrical grid is most stressed,” said Becker. In addition to solar electricity, other green features include a geothermal well field, which uses the constant temperature of groundwater to both heat and cool the building, as well as super-insulated windows, walls and roof. Natural gas-fired micro-turbines will generate additional electricity and provide hot water for the well field and the building’s domestic hot water needs. The improvements will help make the building more than 35 percent more energy efficient than the new state building code requirements. “It was this collection of features which led to the Green Building Tax Credit award, the largest allocation and almost a third of the total awarded,” Becker said. “We are very pleased that NYSERDA is recognizing our green building efforts and partnering with us to make them a reality.” Becker pointed out that Roosevelt Island, from its inception as a community, has been a leader in environmental practices, up to the Island’s pursuit this year of low-emissions buses, and said that the Octagon project was intended to continue this tradition. “The green building features will truly benefit everyone involved: it will reduce operating costs for both us and our residents, it will use fewer non-renewable resources, and it will improve the reliability of the city’s electrical grid,” Becker said. “Features such as the photovoltaic panels are reliable, but expensive, and NYSERDA’s assistance helps us include them in the project.” The Octagon Park Apartments will incorporate 500 new apartments, including 100 affordable apartments, the restored historic Octagon building, and a new ecological park on the site of the former Metropolitan Hospital. The project is expected to start construction late this summer, with new residents starting to move in late in 2004.

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