One of Seven Rallies Held Around the State
Local elected officials, green jobs leaders, heat pump installers and climate advocates joined together at a rally and press conference to support key pieces of legislation that would enable the equitable transition of buildings off fossil fuels to clean energy and energy efficiency. This event was part of a coordinated statewide effort, led by the Renewable Heat Now coalition, which organized rallies in seven cities across New York on May 19th.
Buildings are New York’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and New York’s building stock currently emits more greenhouse gas emissions than any other state. According to New York’s Climate Action Council draft scoping plan, there is no pathway for New York to meet its own legally-mandated greenhouse gas emissions reductions without dramatically and quickly electrifying buildings. The first, least costly place to start is in new all-electric construction of smaller buildings. State and local elected officials and community members representing 217 national, state and regional environmental, energy, health and civic organizations called on the New York State legislature and Governor Hochul to enact legislation to electrify new buildings, reduce fossil fuel use, and support energy affordability.
In Tarrytown, numerous elected officials and advocates held a press conference and rally in the garden outside of 50 White Street, to urge action at the state level while applauding the leadership of the Tarrytown Municipal Housing Authority which is in the process of decarbonizing its affordable housing. One of their buildings at this site near the train station, Franklin Courts, has had a geothermal system for 10 years and while the building is not fully electric yet, the Tarrytown Municipal Housing Authority has partnered with a leading developer in the area, Wilder Balter, to retrofit this affordable senior housing. Energy efficiency improvements will reduce energy costs and likely result in 100% electric Franklin Towers and quite possibly, Franklin Courts as well. Also, just up the road at 62 Main Street on the YMCA grounds, the Housing Authority is redeveloping another affordable housing project that will be 100% all-electric.
“We need New York State to step up and lead the way,” said U.S. Congressman Jamaal Bowman, speaking at the rally in Tarrytown. “And the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate have an opportunity and a responsibility to get this done. This is not a controversial issue, we have to respond now and we have to respond aggressively.”
“As the mayor of Tarrytown, I’m proud to support projects here that reduce energy costs, and promote healthier, affordable housing,” said Mayor of Tarrytown, Karen Brown. Mayor Brown was joined by the Mayor of Sleepy Hollow, Ken Wray who expressed concern for his grandchildren and future generations if we don’t act on climate change.
“Decarbonizing the built environment is a process. Franklin Tower and Courts is underway with a plan to modernize and renovate these valuable affordable units which will include a transition to clean electric power. Residents will benefit from healthier, more resilient, fully upgraded homes that will remain affordable for the residents of the community. This project is a model for the just transition to a clean energy economy,” said Sadie McKeown, Tarrytown Chair of Housing Affordability Taskforce and Comprehensive Plan Management Committee, NYSERDA board member, and member of the Energy Efficiency & Housing Panel for the Climate Action Council.
Affordability, climate mitigation, and resilience are all important factors in the clean energy transition. “As Chair of the Tarrytown Planning Board and an advocate for sustainable land use, the state’s climate mitigations acts are essential to show strong leadership and support for local smart growth policies. State guidance and legislation will help land use boards manage issues that impact our climate: equity, resilience, GHG emissions and our board’s mission to decarbonize buildings and electrify all new construction. In addition, the Renewable Heat Now legislation will jumpstart our local work to fine tune climate action policies, then our village and zoning codes with regard to TOD, flood resilience, affordable housing, and transportation – all of which are critical to our village and so many communities along the Hudson River,” said Joan Raiselis, Chair, Tarrytown Planning Board.