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Attorney General James and NYSERDA Announce Groundbreaking Energy Efficiency Project in Albany's South End

$1.2 Million Project Will Dramatically Improve Living Conditions for Steamboat Square Families

ALBANY – New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) President and Chief Executive Officer Doreen M. Harris today announced over $1.2 million in joint funding for a model energy efficiency project at Steamboat Square, an Albany Housing Authority (AHA) residential complex in Albany’s South End neighborhood. The South End is a Disadvantaged Community, a designation created by the Climate Act and defined by the Climate Justice Working Group, which means the community is comprised of predominantly low- and moderate-income households that face disparate public health, environmental pollution, and climate change impacts.

The project is a model of the cost-saving and environmental benefits associated with retrofitting large multifamily buildings with rigorous, state-of-the-art energy-saving measures. The project also includes a “greening initiative” to bring new natural spaces to the Steamboat Square community, reducing air pollution, and mitigating extreme heat.

“Far too often, low-income communities and communities of color are unfairly burdened with higher-cost, lower-comfort homes due to a lack of investment in new energy- and cost-saving technology,” said Attorney General James. “With this groundbreaking project, we are improving conditions and quality of life for Steamboat Square families. I am grateful to our partners at NYSERDA and the Albany Housing Authority for working together with my office to protect New Yorkers’ health and wellbeing.”

“The Steamboat Square project illustrates what can be done to provide energy efficient, comfortable, and healthy homes for New York families living in historically underserved communities as we diligently work to achieve Governor Hochul’s goal of two million climate-friendly homes by 2030,” said Doreen M. Harris, CEO and President, NYSERDA. “NYSERDA is proud to partner with New York Attorney General James on this endeavor and we look forward to continuing to support efforts like this to help bolster vibrant, inclusive communities throughout New York state.” 

“The Albany Housing Authority works hard each day to improve the quality of life and comfort of our residents. Investing in cost-saving and energy efficient technologies will transform the well-being for Steamboat Square families,” said Chiquita D’Arbeau, Executive Director, Albany Housing Authority. “We must continue to pursue green initiatives in historically underserved communities as we look forward to a more sustainable future. I applaud Attorney General James and NYSERDA for their partnership and efforts realizing this initiative.”

The project is part of revitalization efforts at Steamboat 20, an 88-unit high rise building in the Steamboat Square complex. The funding will support the purchase and installation of geothermal heat pump systems and other efficiency upgrades including exterior wall and roof insulation, air sealing, and installation of thermostats and energy recovery ventilation. This work will be overseen by NYSERDA.

These upgrades are expected to provide at least 40 percent energy savings and reduce climate change pollution. At the same time, the investments at Steamboat Square will significantly improve residents’ comfort by providing each apartment with air conditioning and giving each unit control over its own temperature settings, among other benefits.

An additional $91,000 in funding will be used for urban greening measures recommended in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) October 2019 Albany South End Community Air Quality Study, and may include planting trees and other vegetation and establishing living walls, green roofs, and vegetative barriers. These measures will improve air quality, reduce local heat islands, and improve the natural environment and resident well-being in Steamboat Square and the larger South End neighborhood. This work will be implemented by AHA.

The funding for this project is provided by NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program, by National Grid’s New York State Clean Heat program, and by a 2005 settlement the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) obtained against the Ohio Edison Company. The OAG and NYSERDA have since successfully used these funds to implement a broader Green and Affordable Housing project statewide.

The project is expected to be completed by end of 2023.

“DEC is committed to improving environmental justice communities across the state and it is exciting to see this funding for Albany’s South End neighborhood,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The recommendations from DEC’s air quality study to coordinate improvements in community housing with air quality and greenhouse gas reduction goals were driven by science and community input, both of which will be critical in reaching our nation-leading climate justice goals. I applaud Attorney General James and NYSERDA President Harris for these investments.”

“I commend Attorney General Letitia James and NYSERDA for partnering with the Albany Housing Authority and making this investment to both improve quality of life at Steamboat Square and help combat climate change,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “This initiative, coupled with the multi-phase renovation of Steamboat Square, will help ensure residents in Albany’s South End have state-of-the-art housing they can be proud of and that we are mitigating our impact on the environment.”

“The improvement and investment of 1.2 million dollars for the Steamboat Square project, shows how our Attorney General Letitia James is working for our most disadvantaged residents,” said Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis. “The Attorney General working with NYSERDA is going to improve the energy efficiency for Steamboat Square residents. Attorney General James’ continues to give a strong voice to those who voices are sometimes left out when it comes to new investments in energy. Thank you to Letitia James and NYSERDA for being a partner in our Albany community.”

“The clean energy transition has to be fair, just and affordable and the Steamboat Square project is an important step in this process that invests state-of-the-art technologies in environmental and social justice communities,” said Rudy Wynter, New York President, National Grid. “Reducing energy usage through energy efficiency is an important pillar of National Grid’s Clean Energy Vision, and demonstrating it in this community breaks down an important barrier as we work toward leaving no community behind in the energy transition.”

“This project is in alignment with AVillage's mission to prioritize and amplify the voice and needs of marginalized communities,” said Tabetha Wilson, Board President, AVillage, Inc. “The hard work of mitigating the effects of systemic oppression, pollution and blight are key aspects of improving the health and wellbeing for South End residents.”

“Our work is rooted in the social determinants of health. This project will shift the paradigm for residents who live with a concentration of health disparities, food apartheid, lack of amenities, such as pharmacies, proximity to and a concentration of polluters,” said Eva Bass, Executive Director, AVillage, Inc. “As we move towards a sustainable future and a new economy of green jobs we want to walk in step with the community and include them at the forefront of these projects.”

This matter is being handled for OAG by Special Counsel Stephen M. Nagle under the supervision of Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. The Environmental Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.