2014-04-11 / Top Stories

Rockaway Firehouses Go Solar

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has completed the installation of solar thermal hot water systems at five FDNY firehouses in Rockaway. The $550,000 investment will reduce operating costs and could lead to the wider use of the clean energy-transfer technology in other city government facilities.

“It is essential to ensure the reliable operation of critical public services,” Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA’s president and chief executive officer, stated. “The new solar thermal hot water systems at (these) five city firehouses are examples of pioneering clean energy technologies that the Power Authority and the city have partnered on to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.”

The solar thermal systems utilize solar energy to provide hot water for the firehouses. Water is stored in the basement and pumped to the roof to a system of panels containing evacuated glass tubes and copper pipe loops. The water travels through the vacuum-insulated piping, directly absorbing the radiant energy of the sun, before returning to the basement where it is stored in a hot water tank prior to use. A primary benefit of using the evacuated-tube technology is that the system is able to produce hot water year-round.

The solar thermal systems significantly reduce the natural gas usage by the firehouses as the facilities will only need to utilize their natural-gas fired burners as a backup during periods of low sunlight. Use of these systems will remove more than 14 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere annually and protect against energy price spikes inherent in the reliance on natural gas.

To make this new endeavor a reality, the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) engaged NYPA to undertake the installations as part of a wider effort to bolster the energy systems of city public facilities and the operational performance and resiliency of those locations.

“In the wake of Sandy restoration in the Rockaways, DCAS is proud to have a partnership with the Fire Department and NYPA to bring renewable and resilient energy solutions to City operations in the area,” DCAS Commissioner Stacey Cumberbatch said. “As the hub for the City’s energy management, DCAS invests in many efficiency projects and this one is a great example of government agencies stepping up to provide needed and smart energy solutions.”

“The FDNY is committed to not only making New York City a safer place to live, but a greener one as well,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano commented. “With these new solar thermal hot water systems, the Department is continuing to make great strides towards reaching the city’s longrange sustainability goals. The result is a more energy efficient and less expensive Fire Department that still offers the best fire protection and prehospital medical care in the world.”

The new solar systems were installed at firehouses at the following locations:
 Engine Company 264: 16-15 Central Avenue
 Engine Company 265: 303 Beach 49th Street
 Engine Company 266: 92-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
 Engine Company 268: 259 Beach 116th Street
 Engine Company 329: 402 Beach 169th Street

NYPA utilized Leonard Powers Inc., a Manhattan firm, for the installation of the solar thermal projects, which engaged a variety of engineers, electricians, construction managers and various other craft workers.

The installations directly support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s larger Build Smart NY initiative to increase energy efficiency in public buildings by strategically accelerating priority improvements in energy performance.

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