On Saturday, April 13, the Rosendale Recreation Center will host the ninth annual Rosendale Energy Expo, with a special focus this year that should excite owners of older homes that aren’t as well-insulated or energy-efficient as one might wish.
If you visualize this event as just a roomful of green-building materials vendors and contractors trying to sell you something, think again. Vendors will indeed be present, and might even be able to give you some useful ideas if you’re thinking about retrofitting your home. But this year’s chief source of inspiration is likely to be a new approach to making such renovations affordable right from the get-go, instead of a costly up-front investment that may take decades to pay for itself in energy savings.
This cutting-edge concept is known as Deep Energy Retrofit (DER), and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is banking on it as the wave of the future in terms of making New Yorkers less dependent on fossil fuels. NYSERDA has undertaken a demonstration project using three older homes in the Hudson Valley to show how DER works, and one of those homes is located within the Town of Rosendale. You’ll actually be able to tour it at the end of the day, following one panel discussion on DER by project participants and another on financing models that have worked well in Westchester and could be adopted by Ulster County municipalities.
The new chair of the New York State Assembly’s Energy Committee, Amy Paulin (District 88), will give the Energy Expo’s keynote address. The Rural Ulster Preservation Organization’s Michael Courtney will speak on New York’s innovative Green Jobs/Green New York Program, which is increasing the number of jobs available in the state while making energy efficiency upgrades more affordable for New York homeowners.
In addition to the DER workshop, the program will also cover incentives and financing available to residents and businesses in New York. Croton mayor Leo Wiegman, a key player in the innovative coalition called the Croton Energy Group, will discuss Westchester County’s highly successful Energize New York and Energize Financing programs, which have achieved an unprecedented level of participation by residents and businesses engaged in upgrading their homes and buildings.
The DER pilot project showcased at the event is transforming several older, poorly insulated, inefficient homes to an extraordinarily high level of energy-efficiency that drastically reduces energy consumption, costs and carbon footprint, while improving comfort for the building’s residents. The project team is led by Lloyd Hamilton of Verdae, LLC, and includes Greg Pedrick of NYSERDA, Brian Mulder of Mulder Construction and Todd Pascarella of New York Energy Experts, who will discuss DER from their professional perspectives.
Manna Jo Greene, a DER pilot project participant, will provide the homeowner’s perspective on the panel. Greene, who works as Environmental Action Coordinator for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and currently sits on the Rosendale Town Board, is well-known for the many green hats that she has worn over the years, including a ten-year stint as recycling coordinator for the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency. She has also long been associated with Sustainable Hudson Valley, and in that capacity built the solar-powered Sustainable Living Resource Center next door to her Cottekill home to serve as a site for seminars and workshops.
The Resource Center is a model of green building techniques, but Greene says that she always felt a little embarrassed that her own eight-room home, built in 1945, was a “leaky sieve” when it came to energy-efficiency. Her intent was to retrofit it one room at a time, because that was all that she could afford; but she had not gotten very far when the opportunity came along to host a DER demonstration project site for NYSERDA. The retrofit is still a work-in-progress, but a sneak preview tour that Greene conducted for the New Paltz Times provided ample evidence for why she’s already singing the praises of the DER approach.