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.
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.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which were visited by a record 77 million people in 2019. A recent university study found that spending by State Parks and its visitors supports $5 billion in output and sales, 54,000 private-sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov.