Hastings and Dobbs Ferry are again showing leadership as climate-smart communities through a dual initiative.

In June, the Hastings Village Board unanimously adopted the NY Stretch Energy Code, published by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). On Nov. 10, the Dobbs Ferry Village Board followed suit.

The Stretch Energy Code establishes higher energy efficiency requirements than those of the 2020 Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (ECCCNYS) for all new construction and for substantial renovations or alterations of property other than a residential building of less than three dwelling units. 

The villages also adopted the Open C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing program, an alternative to traditional bank loans, that assists commercial builders with the higher costs associated with meeting clean energy standards.

For all municipalities adopting the Stretch Code, the stated purpose is “…to achieve energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate the effect of global climate change and advance a clean energy economy… to advance these goals and to protect and promote public health, safety, and welfare of its residents…”

In his Nov. 12 newsletter, Dobbs Ferry Mayor Vincent Rossillo stated that the new energy code “will accelerate energy cost savings, reduce emissions from buildings, improve resiliency from power disruptions, and lower utility bills for Dobbs Ferry consumers… This stretch energy code is expected to provide new and renovated buildings in Dobbs Ferry savings of roughly 11 percent over buildings built to 2020 ECCCNYS with simple paybacks typically in the range of six to 12 years.”  

The code has more exacting standards regarding testing, verification, and inspections; and requires buildings to be solar-ready, though currently it doesn’t require commercial buildings to install solar panels. Buildings must have improved window performance, air barrier, air leakage, mechanical ventilation, and insulation; compatibility with renewable and electric vehicle readiness; reduced power use for exterior and interior lighting and controls; and energy monitoring for the entire building.  

NYSERDA sees many short- and long-term benefits of the Stretch Energy Code, including using less energy, lowering utility bills, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels, decreasing the building’s carbon footprint. 

NYSERDA expects that over time, the code’s higher efficiency standards will boost the local economy by building expertise in newer technologies, and creating more “green” jobs related to those technologies, code enforcement, quality control, building commissioning, and energy auditing and modeling. It also sees research, development, and commercialization of products that improve energy efficiency.

NYSERDA projects that more clean energy construction will improve community growth, increase property values as more home and business owners seek “green” and energy-efficient buildings, and that future occupants — renters, tenants, and owners — will benefit from long-term energy and cost savings.

Dobbs Ferry Acting Village Administrator Ed Manley stated that development projects currently in the approvals process — such as Cedar Commons (41-45 Cedar Street), 100 Main Street, and 156 Palisade Street — would be subject to the new energy code. 

“The structural drawings are the same, the floor plans are the same, but they may have to change the HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning] equipment, and insulation for the building,” Manley explained. “The building inspectors will be reviewing and becoming familiar with the new code, which is basically an overlay of the existing energy code. It costs a little more, lowers the carbon footprint, but pays the owner back over time. There’s a payback to both the owner and the public.”

To entice developers, builders, and owners, the Energize NY Open C­PACE program will provide a qualifying property with financing opportunities for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, or equipping of energy efficiency improvements, through an Energy Improvement Corporation (EiC), a local development corporation, acting on behalf of a municipality. Funds provided would be repaid from money collected by or on behalf of the municipality as a charge to be levied on the property.

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