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Jonathan A. Schein Headshot

Local Developer With National Implications

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Much has been made of how green and sustainable standards are being incorporated into all aspects of new real estate development--whether commercial, residential, or institutional. Yet, the biggest issue at hand is the existing building stock and how to bring it up to these standards. This dilemma has not gone unnoticed; the United States Green Buildings Council has established its own LEED standard for existing buildings to address this issue, and other organizations are doing the same.

One developer in the Hudson Valley region of New York has taken this charge and is running with it. Alan Ginsberg, owner and chairman of TechCity, a 2.5 million-square -foot campus comprised of 27 low-rise buildings on 260 acres located in Ulster County, New York, has announced the creation of an eco-village master plan. A former manufacturing facility, TechCity is currently home to Bank of America and several other companies involved in renewable energy, telecommunications, and technology.

Although TechCity has had some of its own environmental issues, Mr. Ginsberg's plan is to redevelop it into a facility that creates 2,200 construction jobs in the build-out, along with 3,860 permanent green collar industrial, office, educational, and retail jobs. And just as important, TechCity will use clean energy systems, such as solar panels and green roofs, that fit in nicely with its flat roofing.

TechCity is already reducing its own carbon footprint by shutting down its oil-burning central utility plant, which emitted 100 tons of airborne pollutants, and replacing it with low-emission, gas-fired rooftop units in the existing buildings. And it has already reduced its energy consumption from 9.1 million kilowatt hours in 2006 to 5.8 million killowatt hours in 2008--a 36% reduction.

There are many different ways to enter the green industry, and TechCity's is certainly not a modest way of doing so. This developer is taking the kind of chance that is absolutely necessary in order to bring our past into the future. Unless we tackle our existing building stock and find ways to make it energy efficient, we won't be able to truly become a sustainable and green nation.

Jonathan A. Schein is publisher of and