The City of Newburgh held two neighborhood development task force meetings last Wednesday. The first meeting was a stakeholder meeting on Wednesday afternoon in City Hall, and the second meeting was a public meeting in the evening at the Newburgh Free Library.
The meetings went over Michael Robinson’s 197 North Miller Street passive multi-family house, Below the Line boot camp, BuildingBlocks, and the city’s quality of life sweeps.
Robinson won the 2019 New York State Energy and Development Authority [NYSERDA] Buildings of Excellence Award for his North Miller Street project. The award recognizes and rewards the design, construction, and operation of very low or zero carbon emitting multifamily buildings.
His project is unique, as it is uncommon to make a passive house out of an existing house. Robinson made his passive house out of a formerly decrepit uninhabitable home. Robinson’s house is a first for the City of Newburgh. The city hopes that his project can serve as an example for future projects.
“A passive house is basically a very low energy standard of building,” said Robinson. “It’s probably the most rigorous energy standard for building in the world right now.” A passive house uses a specific amount of BTUs per square foot of occupancy thus they consume less energy than standardly constructed houses.
A passive house has continuous insulation in order to reduce heat transfers. Passive houses are also airtight compared to standardly constructed houses, so passive houses usually use air exchangers. Air exchangers are heat recovery ventilation systems that make use of the heat from internal sources to create passive natural ventilation. They also have triple glazed windows to ensure heat gain rather than heat loss.
“It’s an incredibly low energy way to build,” said Robinson.
Although the construction of a passive house is more expensive than the construction of a standard house, one has the benefit of not paying for a large heating system. Passive houses are also more durable than standard houses.
Alexandra Church, the Director of Planning and Development, presented on the Below the Line boot camp. The boot camp is a workforce development initiative at Umbra Studios. The initiative focuses on helping those interested in a career in the film and television industry. All of the graduates have found full time production jobs. There will be another round of Below the Line coming.
Church also spoke on the quality of life sweeps. The most recent quality of life sweeps took place on Lutheran Street. The sweeps focus on code enforcement, sewer problems, crime, and more. The sweeps are funded by the city’s RISE grants.
Most recently the city was awarded the RISE phase three grant. The grant will fund 12 more quality of life sweeps. The police department will be involved in the upcoming sweeps. The city will be targeting areas with high crime rates and new development initiatives.
The city will also continue working on Lutheran Street.
The last presentation was on BuildingBlocks. BuildingBlocks was also funded by the RISE grants. The online program provides data on buildings throughout the city. Data can include if buildings are up to code.
One can access BuildingBlocks via newburgh-ny.tolemi.com/. The program works best in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox; it cannot be accessed through Internet Explorer.