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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Net-Zero Apartments – Rotterdam, New York

Solara Apartments has an 155kW photovoltaic array and fourteen solar hot water panels on the roof for each of the twenty-four unit buildings. Courtesy photo: NYSERDA.

Janet Joseph

In April, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced the grand opening of Solara Apartments in Rotterdam, NY, a new multifamily development that is built to net-zero construction standards. Advancing these low-carbon buildings throughout the state is a cornerstone of achieving Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s clean energy and climate goals and putting New York on a path to carbon neutrality while spurring growth of the green economy.

Developing a net-zero apartment complex requires commitment from the earliest planning stages. The developers of the Solara Apartments implemented net-zero design in a way that benefits each resident while meeting the most efficient energy standards possible. As the second net-zero multi-family development from developer David Bruns in New York’s Capital Region, once Solara is complete, it will feature 248 apartments using state-of-the art renewable and energy-efficient technologies.

By working together, we will continue expanding access and the upward trajectory of market growth of low and net-zero buildings. Advancing net-zero buildings at scale to drive down costs for consumers and encourage cleaner energy and more comfortable living and working spaces will benefit all New Yorkers. Statewide, New Yorkers pay about $31 billion annually for electricity and heating fuels, and buildings are responsible for 56 percent of statewide greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion.

Approximately 100 million square feet of new construction is built per year in New York State and multifamily development represents 40 percent of projected new building construction (by square footage). Once a building is constructed, it is in operation for about 50 to 100 years, and it becomes much more expensive to execute significant energy and carbon reducing measures after a building is completed.

A report released in April, New York Getting to Zero Status Report, by the New Buildings Institute shows New York State is leading the Northeast in net-zero buildings with 27 documented ongoing and completed net-zero building projects and a total of 132 net-zero, high-performance, and Passive House building projects. The report also showed that in just the past 10 years the net-zero market has seen tremendous growth, that New Yorkers themselves are driving demand and revolutionizing how we build and retrofit our building stock, and that with steady cost compression net-zero construction costs can be lowered to be competitive with those reflected in conventional construction.

To spur net-zero multifamily development NYSERDA launched the $30 million Buildings of Excellence Competition in March to advance the design, construction, and operation of low- and zero-carbon buildings. The competition provides $10 million in funding for three rounds with up to $1 million available per project. Applications for the first round are due on June 4, 2019. Through this effort, we are working with developers and architects to demonstrate the economic viability and profitability of low- and zero-carbon buildings which will help us shape the future of our built environment.

Collaboration, public-private partnerships, and ongoing support of the growing clean energy economy are critical to advancing New York State’s energy goals. To supplement these efforts, NYSERDA is expanding the Net-zero Energy for Economic Development program to include $15 million for net-zero projects including large campuses and communities.

The opening of such a forward-thinking and energy efficient development like Solara shows how public-private partnerships can yield significant economic and environmental benefits. And, this is just the start. By continuing to work together, we will transform the State’s building stock and as a result, provide cleaner, greener communities for all New Yorkers to enjoy.

Learn more at NYSERDA’s website: nyserda.ny.gov.

Janet Joseph, NYSERDA’s Senior Vice President, Strategy and Market Development.

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