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Q. 6, Short EAF (Part 2) Energy Use & Conservation

Short Environmental Assessment Form Workbook

Will the proposed action cause an increase in the use of energy and it fails to incorporate reasonably available energy conservation or renewable energy opportunities?

Background

As explained in Part 1 Question 9, all new residential and commercial building projects, and alterations of more than 50 percent must comply with the NYS Energy Conservation Construction Code (Energy Code). Going above and beyond the NYS Energy Code requirement might serve to further reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gases.

Exceeding the requirements of the state energy code or including renewable energy into the project design could make a proposed project more environmentally compatible, reduce greenhouse gases, and be more consistent with the municipality's environmental goals. This is especially the case if the municipality has adopted the Climate Smart Communities Pledge. To see if your community has adopted the Climate Smart Communities Pledge, you can check the list and map on the DEC website.

There are some nationally recognized performance programs that have stricter criteria than the NYS energy code. One such program is the Energy Star Homes Program, supported by the US Department of Energy. Energy Star Homes are designed to be 30 percent more energy efficient than standard (code compliant) homes. The NY Energy Star Homes Program Is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Other examples of national programs are the ICC/NAHB Green Building Standard, and the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Applicable Part 1 Information
Some of the Part 1 questions that should be specifically reviewed when answering this question are:

Question 9
If the municipality has adopted the Climate Smart Communities Pledge, the reviewing agency should also be familiar with the contents of the Local Climate Action Plan.

Analysis

In order to decide if impacts will occur, the reviewing agency should look at the available information and ask:

Will there be an impact?

If the proposed action involves only the legislative adoption of a plan, local law, ordinance, administrative rule, or regulation, there is no direct energy use involved, meets the Energy Code, and therefore, will have no impact on energy.

If there is an impact, how big will it be?

If there will be an impact, the reviewing agency must then evaluate the magnitude of that impact. This will depend on the overall scale and context of the proposed project as described in the Introduction to Part 2. The reviewing agency should be reasonable when conducting this review.

Small Impact

Proposed projects that include land uses similar to those in the surrounding area, and that follow the NYS Energy Code, are likely to have only a small impact. Examples would be:

  • Residential development in an already suburbanized area.
  • Small commercial uses in a professional office or industrial park
  • Uses that are fully compliant with a community's adopted Local Climate Action Plan.
Moderate to Large Impact

Proposed projects that are much larger in scale than the surrounding land uses, or that are in a remote area with limited energy infrastructure, could have a moderate to large impact. Some examples that might fall into this category are:

  • An industrial use on a rural road with electric transmission lines designed for only scattered residential land uses.
  • A single commercial use in an industrial park with much higher energy demands than the other uses in the park.

Recording your decision

If you have determined that there are no impacts, or that only a small impact may occur, no further analysis of this topic is needed. Simply check the box under "No, or small impact may occur" next to the question and move on to Question 7. You may choose to include an explanation in Part 3 as to why you decided there were no, or only small impacts, but you are not required to do so.

If you have determined that one or more moderate to large impacts may occur, then additional analysis of this impact will be required in Part 3. You should note what the impacts are, and the reasoning that lead to your decision before moving on to Question 7.

Examples

Scenario 1: A 5,000 square foot office building employing 20 people is proposed to be built in a village business district.

  • The proposed new structure will be required to comply with the NYS Energy Code.
  • Most employees will be local residents with an average commute time of ten minutes.

Then: The reviewing agency determines that the proposed project will have a small impact.

Scenario 2: A business wants to expand its operations by constructing a new 50,000 square foot office building employing 250 people in a city's downtown business district.

  • The proposed new structure will be required to comply with the NYS Energy Code.
  • Employees will come from a wide area, but the office building is within walking distance (1/2 mile) via existing sidewalks to public transportation (bus service).
  • There is a regional bikeway that connects the proposed location with a few surrounding suburban residential areas.
  • The proposed new structure will include photovoltaic solar panels on the roof to supplement its electric supply.

Then: The reviewing agency determines that the proposed project will have a small impact.

Scenario 3: A business with offices in two different urban areas wants to consolidate its operations by building a 50,000 square foot office building employing 250 people in a town that's half way between the two existing locations.

  • The proposed new structure will be required to comply with the NYS Energy Code.
  • Employees will come from a wide area, essentially the same area as the previous two urban areas.
  • There is no public transportation, bicycle facilities, or residences with connecting pedestrian facilities in the area, requiring employees to use their personal vehicles to commute.
  • The proposed location will not connect to any existing water supply, and will use a groundwater source to water the lawn and landscaping.
  • The proposed location is in a town that has adopted the Climate Smart Communities Pledge, and has a Local Climate Action Plan.

Then: The reviewing agency determines that the proposed project will have a moderate to large impact.

Back to Part 2 Impact Assessment || Continue to Question 7 - (Part 2)


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