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Governor Cuomo Announces Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Upgrades at SUNY Upstate Medical University

Press Release

Location: Albany, NY

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced, as part of Earth Week, comprehensive energy efficiency upgrades at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University that will save the Syracuse school more than $1.3 million annually and remove approximately 6,250 tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere every year. That is the equivalent of removing more than 1,180 cars from the road.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is financing and implementing the nearly $21 million energy efficiency upgrade, which is one of the largest projects thus far under "Build Smart NY," the new statewide initiative by Governor Cuomo to increase energy efficiency in state buildings by 20 percent over the next seven years.

"The major energy efficiency overhaul taking place at SUNY Upstate Medical University is one example of how New York is saving money for taxpayers and in the process, creating thousands of jobs and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Governor Cuomo said. "Over the next seven years under the Build Smart NY initiative, we are undertaking major projects across the state to substantially increase energy efficiency in state buildings, resulting in millions of dollars in savings and a healthier environment for New Yorkers."

The campus-wide, energy-saving improvements that NYPA is undertaking at SUNY Upstate include numerous building system upgrades. High-efficiency lights and sensors are replacing old lighting; heating, ventilation, air-conditioning systems and building management controls are being enhanced to improve energy efficiency and comfort levels; and new motors, variable speed drives, boiler burners, water heaters, chillers and other equipment are being installed to further advance the university's energy efficiency and lower its operating costs.

The improvements also include an extensive electrical and steam sub-metering installation that will allow for real-time monitoring of the energy being consumed by virtually all the buildings on the campus, granting the university greater control over its energy use and preventing unnecessary energy costs. The sub-metering installation is expected to be complete next month.

Top officials from state organizations joined together on Thursday to highlight the energy efficiency upgrades.

"The Power Authority and SUNY Upstate Medical University have forged a successful partnership to upgrade the college's electrical equipment and installations to lower energy bills and carbon emissions," Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer, said. "Under the Governor's leadership and his new Build Smart initiative, the Power Authority has been accelerating energy-efficiency improvements at state and local government facilities and we look forward to continuing to make significant progress on this front to benefit all New Yorkers."

"SUNY Upstate Medical University is one of the most important institutions in Central New York, so I am especially pleased by the scope and expected benefits of the multiphase energy efficiency project that NYPA is undertaking," said Joanne M. Mahoney, Onondaga County Executive and NYPA trustee. "The Governor's Build Smart New York program has been a sweeping success across the state and I'm proud to be able to celebrate one of his program's largest projects right in my own backyard."

"SUNY Upstate is grateful to be the recipient of such significant support from the governor's Build Smart NY initiative," said David R. Smith, MD, president of SUNY Upstate Medical University. "Through Build Smart NY and our own sustainability initiative, SUNY Upstate has expanded its mission from improving the health and well-being of those throughout our region and across New York to improving the health of our planet."

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has provided a total of $1.1 million over the past several years to SUNY Upstate for various enhancements throughout the university's campus, including $335,000 for the NYPA-implemented initiative.

"Governor Cuomo, through his Build Smart New York initiative, has called for state buildings to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent in seven years, and SUNY Upstate Medical University is taking a lead in this effort," said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and chief executive officer of NYSERDA. "SUNY Upstate's energy efficiency commitment, with support from NYPA, National Grid and NYSERDA, will have lasting, positive effects on the university and the Syracuse area for many years to come."

National Grid provided a $175,000 Custom Incentive award for high performance energy efficient lighting upgrades implemented at the east and west parking garages of the SUNY Upstate.

"National Grid is thrilled to work with SUNY Upstate, NYPA, and NYSERDA on this important project," said Melanie Littlejohn, regional executive of National Grid's Central New York division. "We support initiatives like this because we are committed to sustainability and energy efficiency and projects that reduce environmental impact. National Grid is very pleased to help SUNY Upstate realize energy savings through improved efficiencies, like LED lighting, and to reduce their carbon footprint."

When including the half-a-million dollars in rebates and grants from NYSERDA and National Grid, and the more than $8 million in capital costs that needed to be expended by the university regardless of the new energy-saving measures, the payback for the university is approximately eight-and-a-half years, after which the school will retain the full $1.3 million in recurring savings every year.

It is anticipated that all phases of the energy efficiency improvements, which began in 2010, will be complete by the end of 2015.

Over the years, NYPA has partnered with its customers in Central New York to complete clean energy projects at 538 facilities, saving taxpayers nearly $3.9 million a year and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 24,000 tons annually.

Each NYPA energy efficiency project results in energy, maintenance and operating savings that pay for the cost of the initiative. The total savings for each project exceed the cost of the upgrades over the lifespan of the improvements. Program participants repay NYPA's financing costs by sharing the savings; after the costs have been repaid, participants retain all the savings.

NYPA has been designated by Governor Cuomo to carry out his Build Smart NY plan, and is committed to financing and carrying out $450 million in energy efficiency improvements at state facilities over the next several years and an additional $350 million of similar improvements at county and local government facilities.

Build Smart NY supports the Governor's call for increasing the energy efficiency of state buildings by 20 percent by 2020 through the use of energy data to prioritize projects that will deliver the greatest energy savings per dollar spent. The largest and most inefficient buildings will be addressed first and undergo comprehensive, whole-building improvements. Build Smart NY will accelerate projects that produce the greatest savings and coordinate all spending. The program will also ensure that cost-effective improvements for energy savings are considered in all the state's capital project planning.

In addition to its energy savings goals, Build Smart NY supports Governor Cuomo's larger NY Works program and economic development agenda, which coordinates state funding to accelerate projects that will create jobs and improve the state's infrastructure. NY Works is designed to expedite select projects with maximum economic impact, allowing them to begin as soon as possible and reduce project costs by hundreds of millions of dollars.

A Build Smart NY website has been launched that posts progress reports, case studies, energy savings, project costs, and other information to the public, providing greater accountability and transparency on government spending and performance. For more information on the initiative, visit

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