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New York Climate Action Council holds hearings on greenhouse gas emissions

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) - The New York Climate Action Council is in the midst of a series of hearings across the state to get comments on a document that will guide the state toward its climate goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050.

Among the goals is requiring 85% of homes and commercial buildings to be equipped with electrified heat pumps instead of fossil fuel-based furnaces, and the renovation of an historic building in downtown Syracuse can be a template for electrification of a building.

The Whitlock family built a six-story building on what was the southern edge of downtown Syracuse in 1895. It was originally built as a retail and office building. Over time it housed a furniture store, and popular downtown Italian restaurant. But it had been vacant for 30 years when developer Tom Goodfellow bought it from the Greater Syracuse Land Bank eight years ago.

"Really when we bought it we should have torn it down,” Goodfellow said. “The roof was leaking and full of asbestos. And we found out the concrete roof was deteriorated enough that we had to take the whole roof off."

But Goodfellow made a decision to save it. That was the first climate friendly development move he made.

“We saved our carbon footprint because we didn’t tear the budding down, throw it in a landfill and then have new steel and new concrete to rebuild it,” he said. “So what we ended up with is rather unique."

And he wanted to continue to create a building that is good for the environment.

“It’s heated and cooled with air source heat pumps, we have energy recovery ventilators for fresh air,” he said. “We’ve made sure the envelope of the building is very tight so we can control the environment."

So far it’s been successful. Tenants in 26 apartments have been comfortable, and a high-tech Syracuse company is ready to move in on the first floor.

Goodfellow says this is the first mixed use electric building in Syracuse. And while the initial costs were higher, he expects payback in eight to ten years.

“It was more expensive but not that much more, because it’s more efficient, in the long run it will be cheaper. So we decided to get rid of the gas,” he said. “From the pollutants that gas provides, it’s worked out really well to do air source heat pumps.”

His advice to any other developers out there who want to get on the all-electric bandwagon?

"Take a good look at the costs, and not just the upfront costs. The long term cost,” Goodfellow said. “And the comfort of your tenants, whether they be commercial or residential."