Whitlock Building’s all-electric retrofit helps retain local jobs – glimmers of a future possible through NYS climate plan include economic gains from just transition to electrification.
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Contact Jessica Azulay 315-280-1515
Syracuse, NY — Community members, elected officials, and businesses gathered this morning in the lobby of the Whitlock building in downtown Syracuse to call on New York’s leaders to implement the state’s climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This afternoon, the State’s Climate Action Council will hold a public hearing at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to hear comments on a draft plan for implementing the law. The plan describes the pathways for New York to reach greenhouse gas emission targets, increase renewable energy, and support disadvantaged communities. These pathways include improving building codes and appliance standards to bring down energy use, enacting an all-electric building requirement for new construction, and changing utility regulations to end fossil fuel subsidies and make renewable heating options available and affordable for everyone.
The Whitlock Building is an all-electric, mixed-use commercial and residential building in downtown Syracuse that uses no fossil fuels for heating. At a press conference in the lobby this morning, community leaders highlighted the building as an example of New York’s energy future and discussed the job creation, energy security, health improvements, and environmental justice measures included in the state’s draft climate action plan. The story of the all-electric Whitlock Building can be the first of many stories for Syracuse.
The Climate Action Council’s Just Transition Working Group found that implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would result in a net increase of 189,000 good, green jobs in New York State by 2030, involving everything from electrifying transportation and buildings to building renewable energy and geothermal district heating systems.
The Climate Action Council also found that eliminating fossil fuels will result in substantial health benefits from improved air quality. New York leads the nation in premature deaths caused by the air pollution from burning fossil fuels in buildings.
Tom Goodfellow, President of Goodfellow Construction Management Ltd, owner and developer of the all-electric Whitlock Building, said, “The Whitlock Building is carbon-free! When my son and I bought the building in 2014, it was in a dilapidated state with asbestos and a leaky roof. We decided that instead of tearing it down and building a new building, which would increase its carbon footprint, we would make it carbon-free. The building is now fully electric and heated by air-source heat pumps. We have energy recovery ventilators. We have 26 apartments and about 20,000 square feet of commercial space, and we’re carbon-free. Our tenants are happy, and they’re warm and cool when they should be.”
Maureen Fellows, District Director for Assemblyman Al Stirpe, said, “I’m very pleased to be here to express the Assemblyman’s support for renewable energy, particularly in the area of green jobs and technologies that support a cleaner environment. The Climate Action Council’s Just Transition Working Group found that implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would result in a net gain of 189,000 jobs in New York state by 2030. Central New York is a prime candidate to get our share of these jobs. Proven technologies such as heat pumps offer jobs for engineers, suppliers, installers, and service technicians. Instead of spending time and resources fighting to delay the transition away from fossil fuels, let’s move forward with enhanced financial incentives and programs like on-bill financing to help more people make the move to renewables. The Whitlock Building is a testament to what we can do right here in Syracuse to make a difference advancing renewable energy and setting the stage for green jobs.”
Katelyn Kriesel, Town Councilor in Town of Manlius, said, “New York State needs to take aggressive action to support municipalities and their on the ground work to combat climate change. More funds are needed to support climate action work like public education, job training, and financial incentives to get residents and businesses off of fossil fuels. If we’re to meet the goals of the CLCPA, which we must, we need bold action from our state leaders to do so.”
Jeff Hanna, Density, Inc, a commercial tenant in the Whitlock Building, said, “Density is excited to be growing our company in a building that aligns with our vision to measure and reduce our footprint on the world. Density is proud to manufacture our anonymous, accurate, and real-time sensor data in a building that is carbon-free.”
Jessica Azulay, Executive Director of Alliance for a Green Economy, said, “By 2030, we could have almost 2 million buildings in the state that don’t burn fossil fuels if we follow the plan that was put together by the Climate Action Council. This will help bring down the state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and improve our health. People will be able to breathe better. Fewer people will get sick. There will be fewer grieving families.”
Matt Dennis, Senior Energy Advisor at Halco, said, “Contractors are on the front lines. We’re the ones making the transition happen and convincing folks to make a change one on one. Halco is a full service energy contractor – we do heat pumps, we do solar, we do insulation. Our goal is to make homes as energy efficient and comfortable as possible and to help folks move away from fossil fuels to reach their goals of being carbon neutral and being comfortable in their homes.”
Joan Royle, Executive Director of Westcott Community Center and President of Greater Syracuse Works, said, “Greater Syracuse Works supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pave the path to a clean economy by 2050. Since 1991, Greater Syracuse Works has been the convening organization supporting workforce development in Central New York. We’re looking forward to supporting this initiative by providing the training, education, industry connections, and wrap-around services to ensure an equitable transition to a green economy in Central New York.”
Maribel Arce, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Syracuse Community Center Collaborative, said,“The Syracuse Community Center Collaborative supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s commitment to ensure a just and equitable transition to a green economy by dedicating 35% of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. These are the people we serve. The Collaborative is united in our mission to help our neighbors access opportunities to build the lives they want to live. The Climate Action Council estimates that decarbonizing New York can result in substantial health benefits from improved air quality. We see first-hand how pollution and climate change disproportionately affect our neighbors’ health and well-being. We urge the Climate Action Council to ensure an equitable transition to clean energy by making it affordable for disadvantaged communities and low- to moderate-income households. We’re ready to be the bridge that connects our communities to clean energy investments, better jobs, and a healthier environment.”
Chris Carrick, Energy Program Manager at CNY Regional Planning and Development Board, said, “We’ve learned that it’s much more affordable and easier for homeowners who use propane, fuel oil, or wood to switch to heat pumps. We now need to switch our attention to the majority of Central New Yorkers who rely on natural gas to also make that switch. That’s one reason we’re so excited about the CLCPA and the opportunities that the Climate Action Council’s scoping plan presents. We know that we need to stop investing in and stop expanding our natural gas infrastructure, because all of the money that goes into burying new pipelines for natural gas is money that we’re not spending on making homes and commercial buildings more efficient and switching to heat pumps. We’ve helped 180 homeowners make the switch – we need to see that many homeowners switching every month in Central NY alone.”
Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) works for safe, affordable energy and the development of a green economy in New York State. Our goal is a prosperous, safe, and healthy New York, fulfilling the promise of conservation, energy efficiency, and safe, clean renewable energy sources to end our state’s reliance on wasteful and environmentally destructive forms of energy. The Alliance works to promote this transition to a carbon-free and nuclear-free future and educates the public about alternatives that can revitalize the economy and safeguard human health and the environment.
NY Renews, a coalition of over 320 community-based, labor, environmental justice, faith, and climate groups, is demanding a $15 billion investment in climate justice during the 2022–2023 fiscal year, a figure adopted from an NYSERDA estimate that calls for a minimum investment of $10 billion annually, with increases every year, to reduce climate risk for communities in New York State.