During Climate Week, Governor Cuomo Announces Opening of Energy & Nature Education Center at Jones Beach State Park
Partnership with LIPA, NYSERDA, and NYPA Creates Modern Educational Facility for Long Island’s Most-Visited State Park
Facility Advances Understanding of the Interplay between Human Action, Energy Use, and Environmental Conservation
Project Continues Comprehensive Revitalization of Historic Jones Beach State Park
New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center. The center opens during Climate Week and will educate and inform the public about how energy shapes New York’s natural systems, and how this same energy can be harnessed to advance New York’s nation-leading plan to combat climate change. Established by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – in partnership with the Long Island Power Authority, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the New York Power Authority – the pioneering facility will help visitors of all ages become better stewards of the environment and smart energy consumers.
“The Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center embodies New York State’s leadership in protecting the environment and promoting renewable energy,” Governor Cuomo said. “Long Islanders know firsthand how the devastating effects of climate change and extreme weather are impacting our lives on a daily basis and this Center will equip visitors with knowledge to join the fight against climate change and protect our environment for generations to come.”
For the first time within the New York State Parks system, this unique environmental education center specifically addresses the role of human energy consumption in shaping the natural landscape. With on-site renewable energy sources and environmentally responsive architectural elements, the Center models net-zero energy use and adaptive, resilient design. Nineteen interior and 13 exterior exhibits unite the most current scientific knowledge with dynamic and accessible graphics, videos, and interactive games to showcase how visitors can take action to conserve energy and protect the environment in their own lives.
Visitors to the Center will be able to explore:
Exterior installations, which activate the coastal landscape. These include an outdoor classroom, sensory playground, pollinator garden, and “Fauna Footprints” path to highlight the wide variety of animal species that call the beach home.
The Lobby and South Gallery, which immerse visitors in the regional energy infrastructure and the physical development of Long Island and Jones Beach over time.
The East Gallery, which investigates “The Power of Nature” in ecological systems and the role of conservation efforts in supporting resilient coastal landscapes. This gallery includes exhibits on the ecosystems of Jones Beach and the surrounding ocean, as well as present-day restoration efforts like plastics clean-up and artificial reef construction.
The West Gallery, which focuses on “The Nature of Energy” and the transformation of natural energy sources into power for human use. An example is represented in a display highlighting how wind speeds and other factors effect energy production by wind turbines. A unique aspect of the Center is its proximity to one of the State’s first offshore wind energy projects, the Empire Wind project, located approximately 18 miles off the coast of Jones Beach. This positions the facility to educate the public about that project, and offshore wind energy generally, by keeping visitors informed during all phases of that project’s development. An energy-efficient house exhibit demonstrates how consumers can manage energy consumption in their own homes, while other exhibits highlight sustainable energy technologies and the impact of extreme weather on the power system.
Conceived as an incubator for future environmental leadership, the Center was designed to the highest standards of accessibility and inclusivity, from building architecture to exhibit design. The galleries feature Spanish and Braille text translations, as well as tactile elements that engage visitors of various ages and abilities. With the generous support of the Long Island Community Foundation, a suite of free, inclusive audio guides in English, Spanish, Chinese, and American Sign Language are available via web application at the Center.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Jones Beach is an ideal site for education and reflection on the power of nature. From the power of the sun, wind, and waves, to energy infrastructure, shoreline engineering and ecological conservation, Jones Beach is an incredible classroom that can highlight the forces shaping the coastal landscape and the environment. I am tremendously grateful to Governor Cuomo, the Long Island Power Authority and all of our partners for helping bring a much-needed modern educational facility to one of New York’s most-visited state parks.”
LIPA CEO Thomas Falcone said, “The Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center is another fantastic addition to Jones Beach State Park and an educational resource for families, businesses, students, and consumers to learn about how energy is produced and choices they can make to reduce their electric bills and help the environment. LIPA is proud to be a part of this facility that visitors will enjoy for decades to come. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and continued investment into Long Island and Jones Beach.”
The $32.8 million project was made possible by the support of LIPA, NYSERDA, NYPA, the Rauch Foundation, the Long Island Community Foundation, the Open Space Institute, and SUEZ North America as well as private individuals. Exhibits were developed in consultation with partners at Hofstra University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the South Shore Estuary Reserve, the Seatuck Environmental Association, The Nature Conservancy, the Shinnecock Nation and other organizations. Many of these partnerships will continue through public programs and events, and an internship program will provide a hands-on immersion in public environmental education to Hofstra University students.
Doreen M. Harris, Acting President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “The opening of this groundbreaking energy and nature center provides an opportunity for both Long Islanders and visitors alike to learn about the benefits renewable energy, such as offshore wind, can bring to New York State and our environment. NYSERDA is proud to partner with our sister agencies to bring this project to fruition as part of Governor Cuomo’s plan to combat climate change.”
Gil Quiniones, NYPA President and CEO, said, “The new nature center is dedicated to educating visitors on using energy wisely and protecting the environment so that New York makes progress in building a clean energy economy. NYPA was proud to provide $3 million in funding support for this important project and it is wonderful that we can now celebrate the new center during Climate Week.”
Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute, said, “The educational offerings and interpretive exhibits at the new Jones Beach Visitor Center will provide important opportunities for families and individuals to learn about nature and the environment which is especially important today, as the effects of climate change can be seen ravaging the places we love the most,”. “Education is an important tool in the fight against climate change and OSI is proud to have supported this valuable project that will help educate young minds and remind us all to be vigilant in reducing our impacts on the planet.”
Senator John E. Brooks said, “I am proud to support all efforts by NYS to provide educational resources to the public about environmental awareness, smart energy consumption, and renewable energy. This Center will serve as a great opportunity to instill environmental leadership qualities in our next generation through the educational and interactive exhibits and programs. As always, it remains important to look towards the long-term future of our state and support initiatives that reduce climate change and restore natural environments. I look forward to seeing our communities enjoy this new destination and the interactive environmental education it will provide.”
Assemblyman David G. McDonough said, “I want to commend Governor Cuomo and the combined efforts of LIPA, NYSERDA, NYPA and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on the opening of the Jones Beach State Park Energy and Nature Education Center. This Center will encourage the thousands of visitors to the park to become better stewards of the land and discover new ways to save energy. I look forward to seeing the effects of these environmentally sustainable changes.”
Assemblyman Steve Englebright said, “The new Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center will provide opportunities to introduce visitors to important environmental and energy concepts. When people understand our relationship with the environment they become better guardians and protectors of the natural world. I want to congratulate the New York State Parks Department and all of its partners in bringing this project to fruition.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “Nassau County is leading the way to combat climate change and we are committed to embracing clean energy and green projects that help to protect our precious environment. This year’s Climate Week comes at a time when climate issues are at the forefront of our minds – with raging fires in the west and the most active hurricane season in history, it is clear the timing is right to roll out the Energy and Nature Center at Jones Beach. I applaud the State of New York and all of its partners in this effort. I encourage all residents and visitors at Jones Beach to tour the center and learn how Long Island’s energy will be utilized and transformed to advance our historic energy goals that will preserve our clean air, waterways, and natural habitat for generations to come.”
The facility will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the week. For information on programs and events, visit www.jonesbeachenc.org; on Facebook: Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center and Instagram: @JonesBeachENC.
Due the ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis, entrance to the building will be limited to 25% capacity, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available on site. Meanwhile, the extensive grounds and exterior exhibits are an essential resource for safe, distanced, outdoor environmental education and recreation.