NYSERDA and Metro IAF Announce $4 Million Award to Assist Religious Congregations in Creating and Implementing a Decarbonization Plan for Their Buildings

Initiative Will Develop Long-Range Energy Plans For 80 Buildings in 65 Faith Communities to Phase Out the Use of Fossil Fuels and Complete 30 Retrofit Demonstration Projects

April 22, 2021

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF ) today announced a $4 million award to Metro IAF, working in collaboration with the Community Purchasing Alliance and BlocPower, for its initiative to work with religious congregations and other anchor institutions on advancing energy efficiency initiatives, transitioning off fossil fuels, and adopting retrofitting projects with the top priority being outreach to institutions in disadvantaged communities. The program supports Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050, as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act).

“New York State is leading the charge to reduce greenhouse gasses and create more sustainable, decarbonized buildings,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Metro IAF’s work with religious congregations and anchor institutions to make spaces healthier and more energy efficient in disadvantaged communities embodies the true spirit of partnerships, and takes us closer to our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050.”

“Metro IAF is mobilizing the leadership needed to help trusted and highly visible community organizations shrink their carbon footprint while creating healthier spaces for their members,” Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said. “Partnerships like this are key to removing emissions from the State’s building stock, which will provide cleaner air for the residents who live and work in communities across the state and help to ensure that disadvantaged communities are included in the clean energy transition.”

“Today, Metro IAF is proud to say that NYSERDA has agreed to invest in clean-energy retrofit projects like the one completed at our church during the early weeks of the COVID pandemic,” said Fr. Gawain de Leeuw, rector of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in White Plains and a leader of Metro IAF. “With our partners, we are committed to helping dozens more houses of worship remove their oil boilers or aging gas boilers and replace them with efficient electric heat-pump heating and cooling systems. These demonstration projects will help show the way for the clean-energy conversions needed in buildings across New York as we transition off fossil fuels.”

Metro IAF, a citizens’ organizing network, received the $4 million award from NYSERDA to work with its partners to seek leadership commitments from and organize 80 or more building owners and anchor institutions, such as religious congregations, to develop and implement long-range energy plans for their buildings, equipping at least 65 faith communities with roadmaps for phasing out their buildings’ use of fossil fuels, while also completing 30 energy efficiency demonstration projects. Outreach to institutions in disadvantaged communities is being prioritized, and the energy efficiency work is expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in economic activity as well as jobs and health benefits for communities that need them most.

The award was announced at an event today in New York City with remarks from Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is partnering with NYSERDA to expand this initiative to at least 15 anchor institutions in the Long Island territory with a commitment of $500,000 in funding.

The Metro IAF initiative will:

  • Target replacement of inefficient, high-emissions heating systems with electric heat-pump heating and cooling systems, along with additional energy-efficiency upgrades;
  • Educate leaders from these and other institutions on strategies and technologies to reduce their buildings’ carbon footprint;
  • Use completed retrofits as “demonstration projects” to assist in the ongoing development of a project pipeline;
  • Identify institutions interested in cooperative solar development and create a model of more cost-effective energy-saving retrofits involving heat pumps and aggregated solar development;
  • Identify owners or managers of 50 or more low- and moderate-income multifamily buildings who are interested in building electrification, and introduce them to program partners to explore retrofit opportunities;
  • Develop a body of knowledge and experience in engaging and assisting institutions in these activities and use this knowledge to inform future efforts and provide guidance to others undertaking similar efforts; and
  • Organize educational workshops or events on topics related to building electrification, energy retrofits, and how to mitigate COVID-19 risks and improve indoor air quality in buildings through heating and cooling upgrades and other measures.

Many of the buildings in this initiative will target energy efficiency retrofits – scalable solutions and processes that improve a building’s energy performance – and will be located in disadvantaged communities, which will benefit from the economic and environmental impacts of the projects. Metro IAF will oversee each project, with the contractors performing the work entering into agreements committing to prescribed workforce development standards that include ensuring that the project benefits those served by the congregation and setting a target of 40 percent of the total worker hours for the project to be performed by residents of disadvantaged communities or those previously unemployed or underemployed. Additional benefits included in the contractor agreements with Metro IAF will include: higher than minimum wage, health insurance or a health benefit wage supplement, unemployment insurance and workers compensation insurance, and training programs or apprenticeships leading to certification or accreditation in clean energy jobs. Metro IAF will report on the number and quality of jobs created throughout the duration of the program, which will provide critical data to scale this model in order to advance environmental justice and economic recovery.

Long Island Power Authority Chief Executive Officer Thomas Falcone said, “Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York is leading by example in our fight against climate change. LIPA is pleased to partner with NYSERDA and Metro IAF to ensure disadvantaged communities are front and center in our transition to cleaner, decarbonized sources of energy.”

Donnel Baird, Founder and CEO of BlocPower said, “Father Gawain and the congregation at St. Bart's have taken a courageous stand and taught all of us that it's possible to take fossil fuels out of buildings 100 percent. We are delighted that the State of New York has decided to expand Father Gawain’s vision, and partner with Metro IAF to move New York’s sacred houses of worship off of fossil fuels. It’s been a long year, but removing filthy, unhealthy, polluting oil and gas systems from important community institutions is a great moment of rebirth, and we salute the State of New York for leading the nation on electrifying buildings.”

“As part of this partnership, CPA will help a group of congregations and building owners navigate the process of developing solar on their roofs, parking lots, or other properties, and get the best terms possible through their combined buying power,” said Joe Naroditsky, Director of Solar Programs for the Community Purchasing Alliance. “Where a congregation is able to combine solar with electrifying their heating, they’re shifting a significant amount of the building's energy demand away from climate-polluting fossil fuels and towards clean renewable energy."

Through NYSERDA and utility programs, over $6.8 billion is being invested to decarbonize buildings across the State. By improving energy efficiency in buildings and including onsite storage, renewables, and electric vehicle charging equipment, the State will reduce carbon pollution and achieve the ambitious target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion Btus by 2025, the equivalent of powering 1.8 million homes. Energy efficiency accounts for 75 percent of the clean energy jobs across New York and the state's ambitious plan to reduce carbon pollution will result in an additional $1.8 billion in societal and environmental benefits.

Funding for this initiative is provided through the State’s 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund. More information about this funding is available on NYSERDA’s website.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieving its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including over $4 billion invested in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities and advancing progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.

About NYSERDA

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 reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on TwitterLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., FacebookLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., YouTubeLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., or InstagramLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

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