Green wall unveiled in Kingston
In recognition of Earth Day on April 22, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and SUNY Ulster President Dr. Alan Roberts visited the Kingston Center of SUNY Ulster in midtown Kingston to finish installing the living “Green Wall,” one of a number of innovative stormwater elements incorporated into the design of the environmentally-sustainable campus developed as part of the County’s S.T.R.I.V.E. program.
The former elementary school facility was adaptively reconstructed to be a technologically advanced, modern community college campus, complete with green stormwater and energy technologies.
The “Green Wall” unveiled today is a vertical planting of specially selected plants that have environmental as well as aesthetic benefits.
“Earth Day is an opportunity to reiterate our collective environmental commitment, and a reminder that we must all do our part in order to ensure a healthy environment for future generations,” said County Executive Mike Hein. “Ulster County is leading the way as the most environmentally friendly county in New York State. We are the only net carbon neutral county in the state and purchase 100% of our electric from renewable sources. I firmly believe that government must lead by example, which is why when we decided to re-develop and modernize the former Sophie Finn Elementary School into a college center adjacent to Kingston High School, we built one of the ‘greenest’ building campuses in Ulster County. From the Green Wall, permeable pavement and bio-retention ponds that reduce stormwater runoff into the City of Kingston’s sewer system, to LED lighting, electric car charging stations and advanced heating/cooling systems to improve energy efficiency, the Kingston Center is a shining example of government being socially and environmentally responsible. The County also secured federal and state grant funds for many of these upgrades saving local taxpayers the cost of many of these elements.”
“The Kingston Center is integral to our mission as a community college and has quickly become a cornerstone of higher education in mid-town Kingston,” said SUNY Ulster President Alan Roberts. “The number of environmentally-innovative elements incorporated into the design is remarkable, and the campus has proven to be comfortable and welcoming for all our students. I commend the County Executive for not only his educational vision, but his commitment to the environment as well.”
“The County Executive’s S.T.R.I.V.E. project provides a model for the sustainable redevelopment of an elementary school that would otherwise have been vacant and blighted. Instead, today we see a modern, beautifully-remodeled building and campus that “recycled” an historic community facility that was near the end of its useful life. The innovative stormwater elements combined with the energy-saving features show that we can redevelop older urban buildings and sites into environmentally-sustainable uses for the future,” noted Amanda LaValle, Coordinator of the Ulster County Department of the Environment.
In addition to the benefits of reducing stormwater runoff, the Green Wall at the Kingston Center also improves air quality, provides shade and allows for more efficient cooling of the building and is an aesthetically pleasing backdrop to the main entrance.
Ulster County applied for and received a competitive “Clean Water” grant of $439,000 from the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation Green Innovation Grant Program to fund 90% of the green infrastructure and stormwater elements.
Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 and has now become an annual global event. It is a day to demonstrate support for environmental protection.