The new Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center has opened with a mission to 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 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 – it’s hoped the facility will help visitors of all ages become better stewards of the environment and smart energy consumers.
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 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 features 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. 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 with accessibility and inclusivity in mind. The galleries feature Spanish and Braille text translations, as well as tactile elements that engage visitors of various ages and abilities. With the 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 is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays, and 9 am to 5 pm the rest of the week. For information on programs and events, visit the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center website.
Photo of Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center provided.