NYSERDA Awards Green Jobs-Green NY Funding for Building-Science ‘Lab House’ at SUNY Ulster

Project Will Expand Hands-On Energy-Efficiency Training, YouthBuild Members to Participate in Construction

February 05, 2013

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced a $205,000 award funded through New York State’s Green Jobs - Green New York to Integral Building Design Inc. of New Paltz. Integral Building Design is partnering with SUNY Ulster to turn Kelder House, one of its original campus buildings, into a state-of-the-art energy efficiency building-science “lab house” training facility.

The facility will be called the Kelder Science Lab and Test House. Located on the Stone Ridge Campus, it will be used for hands-on energy efficiency training by the Hudson Valley’s five-college Clean Energy Technology Training (CETT) Consortium, which includes Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Sullivan county community colleges. The consortium has been active in developing training programs in clean energy technologies and energy efficiency with support from NYSERDA.

Building-science lab houses, also known as pressure houses, are built and outfitted so the entire house becomes a building-science laboratory, demonstrating energy loss issues and other problems faced by those working in energy efficiency fields.

This lab house is one of five such facilities being developed across New York State with NYSERDA funding to increase regional access to hands-on field training and testing facilities that prepare energy-efficiency workers for certifications. The other NYSERDA-funded lab houses are located in Queens, Schenectady, Plattsburgh and Long Island.

The Kelder building was the original farmhouse on the apple orchard donated to Ulster County in 1964 for creation of the community college. A two-story addition was built in the 1970s, so the combined space could be used as a conference center. The building has most recently been used for storage.

“The development of an energy-efficiency training lab house is central to SUNY Ulster’s mission. This project is in keeping with the College’s vision to provide accessible, relevant programs to our community. To do so in such a sustainably focused way allows SUNY Ulster to continue to be a leader in energy-efficiency training,” said Dr. Donald Katt, President of SUNY Ulster.

“This project will enable the community college consortium to dramatically expand training for jobs in building sciences and energy efficiency,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Contractors have told us overwhelmingly that job applicants with hands-on work experience are the most attractive job candidates. This lab house will meet that need by providing learning in a real-life environment. It is the type of innovative project that supports the Next Generation Job Linkage Program that Governor Cuomo announced in his 2013 State-of-the-State address, which calls for linkages between community colleges and employers.”

Building Performance Institute (BPI) certification courses, field training on air leakage and duct testing, and field testing will take place in the Kelder House addition. Once completed, this facility will be a valuable resource in training and educating building professionals throughout the region. Beyond energy efficiency, students and seasoned professionals alike will have opportunities to gain experience and expertise in a wide range of sustainable building practices. Many of the trainings will focus on how to improve existing buildings, with special attention to the problems found in older homes, including issues related to high energy usage, moisture damage, improper ventilation, draftiness and poor indoor air-quality.

Integral Building Design Inc., in partnership with SUNY Ulster Community College, Ulster YouthBuild and other project sponsors, is investing approximately $313,000 of in-kind support into the project.

Ulster YouthBuild members will provide labor to retrofit the original house and will receive a Basics of Building Science course at no cost. This introductory course will expand the education of YouthBuild participants in the field of energy efficiency, building performance and energy auditing, and can lead to BPI certification. YouthBuild is a federally funded program that provides comprehensive job training, educational, leadership development and community development for out-of-school, low-income young adults between 16 and 24.

The lab house will enable SUNY Ulster and its partners to increase the number of students trained by more than threefold to 300 in 2014 and to add advanced and continuing education building-science courses for professionals certified by BPI.

Previous NYSERDA funding for SUNY Ulster included $616,786 for energy efficiency and renewable energy equipment, and $225,000 for curriculum development in energy efficiency and clean energy technology.

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.