The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority recently awarded $205,000 to Integral Building Design, which is partnering with SUNY Ulster to turn one of its original campus buildings into a state-of-the-art, energy-efficiency building-science “lab house” training facility.

The facility will be called the Kelder Science Lab and Test House. Located on the Stone Ridge Campus, it will be used for hands-on energy efficiency training by the Hudson Valley’s five-college Clean Energy Technology Training Consortium, which includes Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Sullivan county community colleges. The consortium has been active in developing training programs in clean energy technologies and energy efficiency with support from NYSERDA.

Building-science lab houses, also known as pressure houses, are built and outfitted so the entire house becomes a building-science laboratory, demonstrating energy loss issues and other problems faced by those working in energy-efficiency fields.

This lab house is one of five such facilities being developed across New York State with NYSERDA funding to increase regional access to hands-on field training and testing facilities that prepare energy-efficiency workers for certifications. The other NYSERDA-funded lab houses are located in Queens, Schenectady, Plattsburgh and Long Island.

The Kelder building was the original farmhouse on the apple orchard donated to Ulster County in 1964 for creation of the community college. A two-story addition was built in the 1970s, so the combined space could be used as a conference center. The building has most recently been used for storage.

“The development of an energy-efficiency training lab house is central to SUNY Ulster’s mission,” said Dr. Donald Katt, president of SUNY Ulster. “This project is in keeping with the college’s vision to provide accessible, relevant programs to our community. To do so in such a sustainably focused way allows SUNY Ulster to continue to be a leader in energy-efficiency training.”

Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA, added: “Contractors have told us overwhelmingly that job applicants with hands-on work experience are the most attractive job candidates. This lab house will meet that need by providing learning in a real-life environment.”

Building Performance Institute certification courses, field training on air leakage and duct testing, and field testing will take place in the Kelder House addition. Once completed, this facility will be a valuable resource in training and educating building professionals throughout the region.

Beyond energy efficiency, students and seasoned professionals alike will have opportunities to gain experience and expertise in a wide range of sustainable building practices. Many of the trainings will focus on how to improve existing buildings, with special attention to the problems found in older homes, including issues related to high energy usage, moisture damage, improper ventilation, draftiness and poor indoor air-quality.

Integral Building Design Inc., in partnership with SUNY Ulster Community College, Ulster YouthBuild and other project sponsors, is investing approximately $313,000 of in-kind support into the project. Ulster YouthBuild members will provide labor to retrofit the original house and will receive a Basics of Building Science course at no cost.