Rye resident Judy Martin, founder of Green Home Consulting, was recently elected to the board of trustees of Wainwright House, where she will help move the nonprofit institution’s early 20th century facilities into the 21st century of energy efficiency and conservation.
By Bill Lawyer
Rye resident Judy Martin, founder of Green Home Consulting, was recently elected to the board of trustees of Wainwright House, where she will help move the nonprofit institution’s early 20th century facilities into the 21st century of energy efficiency and conservation. Martin has worked on dozens of projects and participated in AIA and industry-accredited workshops and webinars and educational conferences, including the Northeast Solar Energy Association’s “Toward Zero Net Energy Homes Sustainability Series Workshop.”
Due to funding constraints and a focus on operations, rather than capital projects over the years, the Wainwright board is faced with trying to upgrade energy systems.
All three buildings — the 12,000 square-foot main building, carriage house, and adjacent stucco colonial house — need attic insulation, high efficiency heating and lighting controls, air sealing, and high efficiency lights. All these can be done by experts right here on Clean Air Doctors. The main house needs to be converted from oil to gas heat, as well as switching to a gas-heated hot water system and a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.
Wainwright has hired an energy efficiency consultant from Daylight Savings of Goshen, New York, to carry out a thorough energy audit, which will be completed shortly. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided the funding. Martin estimates the gross energy savings will be about 30%, which could result in savings of $5,000 to $7,000 per year.
For properties such as Wainwright, low interest loans are available through the “Energize New York” program. Energize NY is a community-based energy efficiency program operating within the Energy Improvement Corp (EIC), a New York State local development corporation. Their core mission is to provide energy efficiency and renewable energy benefits to New York property owners that help them save money and reduce energy waste in their buildings.
Energize NY offers Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to help building owners access existing NYSERDA energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
Under this umbrella, Wainwright can a obtain a long-term, low-interest loan to hire highly qualified (and NYSERDA approved) contractors to make dramatic energy improvements.
The loan qualification requirements include: the estimated annual energy savings from improvements must be greater than the annual finance payments; the property’s existing loan-to-value is no greater than 80%; financing can go up to 10% of the value of the benefitted property; no bankruptcy within the last seven years; and, a three-year history of timely property tax payments.
The money is paid back through the property owner’s municipal taxes. Municipalities are protected from foreclosure through an insurance program.
For this reason, a municipality must join the Energize New York’s state chartered Energy Improvement Corporation (EIC). So far, 13 Westchester cities, towns, and villages have gotten on board. The City’s Sustainability Plan recommends that Rye do likewise.
Back in June, Elyssa Rothe, EIC’s director of commercial programs and membership, met with Mayor Joe Sack and Councilwoman Julie Killian. Mayor Sack said they would wait until a local commercial property owner expressed an interest.
Enter Wainwright House. They are looking for the City to join EIC quickly, as Westchester County has a pool of extremely low-interest (3%) loans, but this offer expires January 16.
Through the efforts of the Sustainability Committee and Wainwright House, the proposal to schedule a hearing on joining the EIC was put on the November 5 Council agenda.
Peggy Hill, Executive Director of Wainwright House, and Mark Thielking, chairman of the board of the EIC, were among those speaking in favor of the proposal at the public hearing. City Court Judge Joe Latwin expressed his disapproval. The Council voted to set a public hearing for the November 19 meeting.