With a pool of skilled workers, green-minded architects, developers, and economic development agencies willing to lend a hand, as well as a rapidly growing green technology industry and a bundle of state and federal incentives ready to be tapped, the region is positioned as a leader on the green development front.
That was one of the key messages presented by participants of ScheinMedia’s Hudson Valley Green Real Estate Development Conference, held at TechCity in Kingston this fall.
As 200 industry stakeholders convened for the half-day event, executives from local and regional economic development corporations, federal and state agencies, private investors and developers, designers and architects, and others discussed critical issues in the green development arena, such as market opportunities in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, finding and training employees, and the state of economic development and financing in the Hudson Valley. Of course, the conference also served as a premier networking event for industry executives.
Some noteworthy speakers included: Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson Inc.; Adolph Everett, chief of RCRA PB, Region 2 of the EPA; Vince Cozzolino, president and CEO of The Solar Energy Consortium; Michael Oates, president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation; Jason Black, regional architect at Reckson (a division of SL Green); and Lance Matteson, president of the Ulster County Development Corporation; among many others.
The choice of the conference location—TechCity—was brilliant in its intent. The 258-acre center, formerly owned and operated by IBM, is being redeveloped to serve as a technology hub in the region. What piqued the interest of green-minded attendees was the notion that this well-constructed site (built to defense industry standards) can serve as a model for sustainable real estate development. J. Michael Divney, partner at Divney Tung Schwalbe, notes that “The embedded energy that exists in buildings like this offers a fundamental platform upon which sustainability can grow.”
Indeed, it was this sort of forward-looking perspective that permeated the event. Other revelations exposed at the conference include that despite the economic downturn, companies in the green development and green technologies sectors are hiring workers—hundreds of them.
Meanwhile, there are companies such as Precision Flow Technologies Inc. and Kingston Block & Masonry Supply, LLC that have helped position the Hudson Valley as a product innovation leader. Kingston Block, for example, offers developers the chance to bolster the LEED rating on their project with cement blocks made of recycled glass and concrete.
Neil J. Alexander, LEED AP, partner and chair of the Environment & Sustainability Practice Group at Cuddy & Feder LLP, summed it up this way at the event: “When you try to make your business case for green, many factors go into it—PR is a big component; corporate social responsibility, tax incentives—but also what I call future proofing—you’re getting out ahead of the curve. You’re getting there before the wave.”
Kingston Block’s product also reduces CO2 emissions—which was another key point of the conference: overarching goals should include reducing carbon emissions. Robin Andrade, principal of Andrade Architecture PLLC, says, “We’re now coming into another revolution—we can’t sustain ourselves on fossil fuels.”
But to get there, the green development stakeholders need to work together. That means a marriage between economic development agencies, investors, and developers, as well as builders and designers. “Green is now bringing civil engineers and architects together for the first time,” says Joseph Minuta, principal of Minuta Architecture, PLLC, during one of the panel discussions.
As for location, Alan Ginsberg, owner and chairman of TechCity Properties, says the Hudson Valley has a rich inventory of green-minded residents—a big plus for the green development movement. “We don’t have the luxury of being located in New York City or White Plains…but we are in a region that is green, where people want to be green,” he says.
As for the future of green real estate development in the Hudson Valley, a conference-related survey indicated that there’s business activity in the sector and that companies are seeking incentives to support these projects.
To stay informed on upcoming ScheinMedia conferences or to order an in-depth report on this recent event as well as to see the survey results, check out this website: events.scheinmedia.com/hudsonvalley.php
Check out our digital edition of this story to read what green development thought leaders say.