Reinvestment of Energy Savings to Help Long Islanders in Need; Transforming Nonprofit Headquarters into Disaster Resiliency Site

April 22, 2021 (Deer Park, NY) – United Way of Long Island celebrates Earth Day on April 22 with the launch of its ‘Net Zero Energy Challenge’, the pathway to transforming the organization’s headquarters into a building that produces as much energy as it uses. Through the installation and utilization of renewable energy, United Way will possess one of the largest solar arrays of any not-for-profit commercial building, excluding universities and hospitals, in New York State. 

Budgeted at $1.8 million, the Net Zero Energy Challenge encourages stakeholders to invest in a sustainable Long Island with economic opportunity. The project is underway thanks to a grant pledged from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and initial funding from Brookhaven Science Associates/Brookhaven National Laboratory, as well as in-kind engineering design services from Cameron Engineering and the donation of HVAC equipment from GREE America and Wallace Eannace of Long Island.

The building retrofit encompasses three areas of impact: families, workforce development, and disaster preparedness. The cost savings by using renewable energy will be reinvested into United Way’s core programs and services to benefit Long Island families. The project site will provide career training opportunities to young adults, veterans, and those looking to replicate the Net Zero Energy project design. Once completed, the headquarters will be able to operate during disasters and extreme weather conditions.

Upon completion, the building will contribute to a sustainable future for Long Island by capitalizing on readily available high-performance technology, including 576 solar panel modules and upgraded mechanical systems, which will reduce pollution and scale down carbon footprint by nearly 150 tons per year. In particular, the installation of air-source heat pumps, which control heating and cooling, will replace the traditional heating system currently in place. 

“It is exciting to know that an esteemed organization like United Way of Long Island is using innovative technology practices to create social and economic impact. This one-of-a-kind project is certain to become a model for regional development, especially as we continue to see job growth in the energy sector,” said Robert B. Catell, Chairman of the Board of Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (AERTC) and Co-Chair of United Way’s Net Zero Energy Building Committee.

Theresa A. Regnante, President & CEO of United Way of Long Island said, “We are grateful to our supporters who are building the foundation of our ‘Net Zero Energy Challenge’. This contributes to increasing our organizational capacity to assist individuals and families in accessing quality education, achieving financial stability and leading healthy lives.” She added, “Today is a call to action to help us meet our goal of raising nearly 2 million dollars. Together, we are investing in our future and investing in the people of Long Island.”

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO of NYSERDA said, “NYSERDA is pleased to provide funding for United Way’s net zero retrofit project, which incorporates a host of sustainability features such as energy efficient heat pumps, renewable energy resources, and energy storage for resiliency, which will reduce their building’s carbon footprint, while enhancing their ability to serve families in the Long Island region. As a well-respected community organization, they are leading by example in the fight against climate change and we’re thankful for their partnership as we work to foster cleaner, healthier communities for all New Yorkers and protect our natural resources for future generations.”

“Brookhaven Science Associates’ support of United Way on behalf of Brookhaven National Laboratory helps create a triple-threat sustainable solution that betters the environment, betters the lives of Long Islanders and betters organizational fiscal health,” said David Manning, Director, Stakeholder Relations/External Affairs, Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Rick Wertheim, Senior Vice President, Housing Development at United Way of Long Island said, “The completed Net Zero building will offset 100% of our power usage through renewable energy, ultimately converting our offices into a self-sufficient building of the future. By heating, cooling and lighting our building using electricity that is powered by solar energy, this project becomes a catalyst for impact; we are creating a dynamic regional demonstration project that exhibits the possibility to create change in hundreds of lives of Long Islanders in need.”
“Cameron Engineering is committed to shaping a thriving Long Island. Our firm is pleased to provide our expertise in creating an energy efficient building that is original in its engineering design and in how it utilizes energy savings to give back to the Greater Long Island Community,” said John Cameron, Founder & Partner, Cameron Engineering.

“Wallace Eannace and GREE America are pleased to donate state-of-the-art HVAC equipment to United Way’s energy retrofit project, as we recognize that it significantly aids in the project’s success and goal of achieving Net Zero,” said Darryl Clark, Corporate Vice President, Wallace Eannace.

Reinvesting in the Long Island Community
The revenue generated from the savings in annual energy costs provides a variety of opportunities for United Way to reinvest these funds to help Long Island residents, including providing home energy assistance and allocating additional funds to community partners. The completed building will be able to operate during disasters - solar energy harvested from the panels will be stored in batteries to provide backup energy during extreme weather and other emergencies. Amenities include electric vehicle charging stations which will act as an alternative resource for program staff to help reduce in-the-field energy costs. 

The building project will contribute to regional economic development through career training led by industry professionals. Youth and veterans seeking employment in the high-growth energy industry will learn on-site while the retrofit is taking place, enhancing their technical skill sets by gaining hands-on opportunities. It will also be a demonstrations site for professionals, companies and organizations seeking information and the tools needed to start their own Net Zero Energy projects.  

Experts in Building Design
United Way of Long Island has a demonstrated history as experts in weatherization, energy efficiency and sustainability; it is a nationally-recognized builder of zero-energy ready homes, having received six awards from the US Department of Energy. In the past 20 years, more than 85 homes have been developed and built by United Way from blueprints to groundbreaking, as well as detailed finishes and utilities – ensuring that every home is built to be healthy, easily maintained and is energy efficient.

The organization also operates an E3 SmartBuild Training Center which is a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the latest tools and technology to teach building science, green construction and energy practices to Long Island job-seekers, as well as construction and building design professionals. 

The organization’s headquarters is a 31,000 square foot commercial building, located at 819 Grand Boulevard in Deer Park and is also home to United Way’s nonprofit community partners The Ascent School for Autism, Girls Inc. of Long Island, and Wyandanch Homes & Property Development Corporation.

To invest in the Net Zero Energy Challenge, visit www.unitedwayli.org/give.

To learn more about United Way of Long Island’s Housing Development and Training programs, visit www.unitedwayli.org/housing

United Way of Long Island is committed to the financial stability our neighbors and to a healthier environment rooted in renewable energy. For details, visit www.unitedwayli.org.

Photo Caption: (Left to Right) 
YouthBuild Long Island participants Jordan and Darrius hold a solar panel; Rick Wertheim, Senior Vice President, Housing Development, United Way of Long Island; Michael Hults, Partner, Cameron Engineering; Michael Voltz, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, PSEG Long Island; Senator Phil Boyle; David Calone, CEO Jove Equity Partners, member United Way of Long Island Board of Directors and Co-Chair of Net Zero Energy Building Committee; Matt Brown, New Construction Program Manager, NYSERDA; John Bruckner, President, National Grid & member United Way of Long Island Board of Directors; Erika Hill, Owner/Principal Consultant, Vision Street Research & member United Way of Long Island Board of Directors; David Manning, Director, Stakeholder Relations/External Affairs, Brookhaven National Laboratory; Nancy Shamow, Executive Director Ascent School; Robert B. Catell, Chairman of the Board of Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (AERTC) and Co-Chair of Net Zero Energy Building Committee; Darryl Clark, Corporate Vice President, Wallace Eannace; Theresa A. Regnante, President & CEO, United Way of Long Island; Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer; and YouthBuild Long Island participant Keyshawn.

About United Way of Long Island     
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. We recruit people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done.  LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become part of the change.  United Way of Long Island is part of a worldwide network spanning across 41 countries and territories, including more than 1,200 local organizations in the U.S. For more information about United Way of Long Island, please visit UnitedWayLI.org, or follow on  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.