Sustainability at Jay
At the Jay Heritage Center, historic preservation can be green too.

In November 2008, the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House became the first National Historic Landmark (NHL) structure in Westchester County with a working geothermal heating and cooling system. At 171 years old, it also officially became the oldest NHL in all of New York State with such a system. Immediately following this accomplishment, the site was named to the prestigious Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (HRVNHA) in recognition of its sustainable management practices.

Our geothermal system is hooked up to a Green Screen interactive monitor, an equally important component of our "Stewardship through Smart Choices" energy education program funded through a grant from Con Edison. Like a classroom's Smart Board, the Green Screen literally puts access to our efforts at a visitor's fingertips.

An upcoming weblink will allow JHC guests to access the Green Screen remotely to see a checklist of thoughtful and responsible steps taken by the JHC and compare them with the USGBC's LEED system; this is a simple and effective way to demonstrate where historic preservation and this prevalent environmental coding system are compatible or incompatible in real practice. The Green Screen is already connected by Automated Logic to thremostats throughout the house as well as to the Geothermal pumps themselves. This way, it will be possible to actually see the system at work, saving energy in the house.

Through this innovative approach, the JHC hopes to serve as a valuable model and authoritative resource for other institutions, museums, schools, government entities as well as individual homeowners as they plan to incorporate green design features into their own buildings.

Of course a system like this complements our signature Sustainable Architecture Camp, "Home Green Home" dollhouse exhibit and numerous civic advocacy and volunteer days.

This 21st century technology along with all new MEPs in the 174 year old mansion was made possible by a Save America's Treasures grant, grants from Con Edison, and private donations from the JHC Board and individual JHC members.

While redesigning the MEPs of the Jay House is a critical part of being sustainable, management of the surrounding landscape and grounds is also an integral component of environmental stewardship. Planting native trees likes elms, tulip trees and oaks to shade buildings is a practical and affordable option open to many homeowners. Removal of invasive species like Norway maples, poison ivy, chokeberry, garlic mustard, multiflora roses and porcelainberry is important too for a holistic approach.
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