Kaatscast: the Catskills Podcast
Feb. 16, 2021

Sustainable Catskills part 2

Sustainable Catskills part 2
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Join us for part two of our behind-the-scenes tour of "Sustainable Catskills," with stops at the nation's first "passive house" library, an eco-conscious resort on the banks of the Esopus, and an Arkville solar array that implements local art and bluestone into its design. Thanks to Ulster Tourism and The 52-mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway, following New York State Route 28 through the heart of the Central Catskills.

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Welcome to cats cast your bi weekly podcast on history, nature, arts and culture and sustainability news from the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley. Last time we highlighted three stops along the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway that are leading the way in sustainability. This week, we hear from three establishments that have implemented green technologies into their building architecture, energy supply, and daily operations. Stay tuned for a peek into the nation's first Passive House library and eco friendly resort and an art infused solar array. All right here in the Catskills. Thanks to Ulster County tourism for their support of the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway sustainability tour and to the 52 mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway following New York State Route 28. Through the heart of the central Catskills for maps, itineraries and links to area restaurants, shops and accommodations, visit scenic catskills.com when Ark fills Catskill center for conservation and development, decided to supplement with solar power, they opted for an art based installation that would complement the existing rustic aesthetic of the property. Derek McConnell designed the so large project here he is to explain the process. A lot of people and it's hard to argue with them thought of solar panels as kind of an eyesore. They just weren't used to them. And even though I think they're kind of attractive and sleek looking, it's something new to people and it it might not be what they want. Aesthetically, I was installing PV photovoltaic solar systems which provide electricity mostly for residential customers, but also for some commercial customers on Long Island primarily, my mother lived in the Catskills, Gail Lindstrom, and was involved with the Catskill center for conservation and development. And she brought me in to advise on the solar and we ended up trying to bring together the art and the environment and just keeping in mind the location of being up in the mountains. And then the Catskills on a barn there, there's panels in the background that were already there. So what I installed was a ground array built into the ground, but surrounded by the cedar wood and the blue stone, their solar panels are the functional component of it that you can see there. Those black blue aluminum edge panels sometimes are using electricity from the grid from nice egg. And other times are using it from our solar panels. And sometimes the solar panels are making electricity that they don't use. And that turns the meter backwards and goes back to nice like, you end up paying at the end of the year for the difference of how much you used and how much the solar panels made. But what's unique about it is that there's that metallic gold and silver art panel in the center, which a local artist john Sanders crafted specifically for this project. He really didn't know much about solar, we just told them, basically what we're looking for. And he showed up with it near the point of installation, and I think, ultimately fit really well the idea was for something artistic to be there in the center. We also did something unique putting cedar panels on the side, which you normally wouldn't do to kind of hide the wires underneath. And then to do in the front and on the side. blue stone rock wall by a local artisan, I think was a great concept specifically for this kind of institution, which is combination of conservation center and an art center where the public is going to see it I think it's worth that extra step and hopefully spread awareness about renewable energy and making it look beautiful or attractive or something that would catch people's eye and want to look at. In our last episode, we heard from the Catskills Recreation Center, which has implemented sustainably minded heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Emerson Resort and Spa is another stop on air sustainability tour that has also embraced environmentally friendly heating and cooling technology. And they've found ways to lessen the environmental impact of daily operations, like in house laundry. Tamra Marie tells us more. I'm Tamra Marie. I'm the Marketing and Sales Director here at the Emerson Resort and Spa. The Emerson is a quiet, hidden gem, located about two hours from Manhattan. In the heart of the Catskills. The soapless Creek is our backyard. Some people may not be aware of the fact that the sophus flows into the ashokan Reservoir which supplies the majority of drinking water to New York City. So it's very important to us that we Shepherd that and protect the ground and the property that we work on and try to practice as much as possible, environmentally friendly methods. When the end was originally built, it was built using a geothermal heating system. There's a series of pipes and wells that are buried about five to six feet underground, they create a loop system in and out of the building. The groundwater inside the loop is used for heating and cooling the building. In the winter water going through the system retains stored heat from the ground and brings it inside. And then the unit inside condenses the heat to make it hotter, and sends it throughout the building. In the summer. The geothermal system captures the heat from the building itself, then sends it back through the earth loop, where it's cooled by the earth ambient temperature. Once again, it's sent back to the building's air conditioning compressors. And all of this greatly decreases the Emerson's energy consumption. What we use to maximize our water heating efficiency is a chain like system of boilers that are tapped into our solar panels that are located on the west side of the property, they're actually on the side of the lodge. And those panels work in conjunction with our heating and hot water systems, where a traditional hot water heating system receives ground water at around an average temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit. The water for this particular system goes through the panels and reaches the boilers at temperatures ranging from about 90 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or fuel consumption. And the boiler operation times have decreased by more than half. Being a hotel, you can imagine the amount of laundry that needs to take place here. And we do we handle all of our laundry on property. So we've adapted eco labs Aqua anomic system for our laundry facilities, the system requires less water through each of the wash cycles. The system also helps to streamline chemical use, which makes it much safer and more efficient for our staff to use. We just added our Tesla car charging stations in 2019. You don't have to be a guest to use them. If you're driving by the Emerson and you need to charge Feel free to come. And while it's charging, we'd love for you to stroll around our shops or have something to eat at the restaurant. Maybe you can even squeeze in a spa treatment or to a lot of our guests want to know where our name came from Emerson Resort and Spa were actually named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, who is the founder of the transcendental movement, you'll see Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes that are prominently displayed on the walls. So in keeping with our namesake, the entire staff is very much aware of Emerson's relationship to nature as well as the Emerson resort and spa's relationship to nature and what that means for our community for the Catskills. And for the earth. as a whole. the Catskills are an absolutely stunning, beautiful location. It's a place that families can come to disconnect, reconnect with nature, reconnect with our communities, support all of our local businesses, but most importantly, spend that time reconnecting with the family. The Emerson encourages everyone that's coming up to this region to do that. In Phoenicia in New York, the financial library building has stood for more than a century, taking on various lives and forms over the years. After a devastating fire in 2011, the financial library board voted for sustainable improvements to the building's redesign, director of the financial library, Liz Potter tells us all about this historic little library, and it's low energy architecture. So we are actually the first passivhaus design library in America and we're really proud of that and hope to be an example to the community of what can be done to save yourself, money and environmental impact in the future. Hi, my name is Liz Potter. I'm the director of Phoenicia library, we function as a community hub like a typical library. We have have tons of books and DVDs for people and people come in from their hollows and cabins for their books and also for community. Phoenicia library has been in the town of Phoenicia for over 120 years in one form or another. We've been here in this building since 1959. Prior to that this building was a funeral home 2011, we had a terrible electrical fire, nobody was hurt, but we lost our entire collection. And the building had to be gutted, we had a chance to do everything over to make this building exactly as we wanted to make it and make it better. One of the most important parts of the process was picking a builder, Wyatt Roberts was a fine home builder, who also happened to live in our town, and his children use the library. When we had our first meeting with him. He said, Oh, and by the way, have you ever considered Passive House. And we had no idea what this was. And in the course of a half hour meeting with the board, he outlined exactly the virtues of this wonderful energy saving technology that he had just been trained in, we were told that we could reduce our energy footprint by 90%. And that the cost us would be about 10%. And he was so inspired about it that we wanted to do it. Passive House is radical insulation of a building, combined with excellent ventilation. passivhaus, was developed in Europe in the 1990s. And it wasn't until 2003, that an architect who was from Europe came to the states and built the first Passive House home 2011, when we were starting to look at the rebuild, there's only been 100 structures in the United States that were passivhaus built. So we're really hoping with this novel, simple, cheap technology that's permanent, that we can inspire people to adopt it. Our building has a foot wide exterior full of different forms of insulation, it's like putting on a really warm coat. So you don't have to use much heat to keep it warm in the winter. The other feature is that it's 100%. air tight, if you can imagine that, that's actually measured by a blower door test. And when we measured this building at the completion of the project, we were able to detect that the total leakage for the entire building, if you can imagine it was the size of one quarter. Therefore, we can use heating and cooling elements that are for this whole building, which is about the size of a large house. But it's the equivalent of heating just two rooms, we have a small unit upstairs and a small unit downstairs. what passivhaus has done is put together a really efficient way of ventilating the building, which uses sort of like a set of lungs. So this building is not a sleepy building we have even in the winter, fresh air pumping and constantly, fresh air is coming in. And as the stale interior air is being expelled, they meet in a filtration system and pass by each other. And there's an exchange of the warm heat to the incoming fresh air. And we have no issues with mold or moisture. We have realized savings of I think it's about an 85% reduction per square foot in heating, cooling, and electrical use those two factors the fiscal environmental sustainability of making this move, made it worth the cost. Our library tries to look at other ways that we can be sustainable and be an education model in sustainability. We had a member of the community talk about the importance of native plants to our environment, or animals or insects. And so we were able to get a grant from the Catskill watershed corporation to design with community input using native plants and redo our backyard into a garden for the community. Since we moved into the Building. What we've been able to do is actually simultaneously have programming. We have Mahjong for seniors, we have Movies For Children, we have a lunch and learn for medication interactions. We have concerts, we've got art our for children, and so on. Knowledge and enjoyment and self edification, don't just have to come from between the pages of a book, you can actually have an experience in the library that enhances your life. So that's what we tried to do. Cats cast is a production of silver hollow audio, production intern sky rousse. Thanks again to our sponsors, the 52 mile Catskill Mountains, Scenic Byway, and Ulster tourism. Please be sure to subscribe wherever podcasts are found for automatic downloads of our upcoming shows. And follow us on Instagram at cats cast. I'm Brett Barry. Thanks for listening. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai