Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Solar Panels Proliferate in ‘Progressive’ Brooklyn

“Nothin’ moves backwards, buddy. Do you want to speak to a nuclear physicist?”

This is what an incredulous Con Edison employee said to Windsor Terrace resident Peter Landy
when his meter indicated that he wasn’t using any of the utility giant’s electricity.

That was two and a half years ago, right after Landy
had photovoltaic panels (pictured at right with Landy) installed on his roof, which convert sunlight into electricity. In other words, he went solar.

“We haven’t had a bill. Just the connection fee, which is around $11,” he says. “We produce more [electricity] than we use, so the meter goes backwards.”

Through a legislated arrangement called “net-metering,” Landy is able to “sell” his excess energy back into the system and build up credit with Con Ed. In the winter and at night, when the sun is less obliging ... read more

Story by Phoebe Neidl, photo courtesy of Aeon Solar

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De Blasio Announces Public Recycling Program Kick Off in Park Slope

The Eagle received this press release:

Last week, the Department of Sanitation (DOS), in partnership with The Doe Fund, Inc., Councilmember Bill de Blasio, and the Park Slope Civic Council, launched a public recycling program in Park Slope, Brooklyn for metal cans, glass bottles, and paper products. Similar to the high-end covered litter baskets DOS has placed in other locations throughout the City, the blue and green recycling cans will be placed at the corner of 7th Avenue and 6th Street in Park Slope. The cans will be serviced by the Doe Fund's Ready Willing and Able program participants, who currently work to keep this busy avenue clean.

“If you’re out in the neighborhood and you finish reading your newspaper, you either have to throw it away or carry it home with you,” said Councilmember Bill de Blasio. “We all know that recycling is the right thing to do, but it needs to be more accessible to people in their daily lives. Today brings us one step closer. I would like to thank The Doe Fund, the Park Slope Civic Council, and the Department of Sanitation for working together to make this initiative possible, especially at a time when the city cannot afford to increase spending on basic public services. Despite tough economic times, the environment must remain a high priority.”

“The ‘men in blue’ are well-known in Park Slope and throughout New York City for their hard work making city streets and sidewalks cleaner. We are pleased to help Councilmember de Blasio in his efforts to make Brooklyn greener as well,” said Joanna West, The Doe Fund's Director of Business Development.

“The Park Slope Civic Council is proud to have worked with Councilmember de Blasio, the Department of Sanitation and The DOE Fund to bring Commercial Street Side recycling to the community. In a community of individuals with such high environmental awareness, we are confident the program will be a huge success. We look forward to bringing other locations to fruition in order to further integrate recycling into the lives of Park Slopers,” said Bob Braun of the Park Slope Civic Council.

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A Green Tasting at a Green Market

The Foragers Market in DUMBO, a market specializing in locally grown and natural products, is having a “Heavenly Holiday Tasting” on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 2-5 p.m. Vendors that sell to the market will come with their products for customers to sample. Some of the vendors that will be in attendance are: Brownstone Coffee, a specialty roasting company in Brooklyn; Hot Bread Kitchen; and Pumpkin Village Foods. If you’re interested in finding out what grass fed meat tastes like, there will be samples from an upstate farm. Owners Anna Castellani, Clifford Shikler, Richard Lamb and Alexander Krivosheiw want customers to “taste an exquisite array of appetizers.. drool over [their] chocolates and candy, devour [their] home-made breads, sip [their] fresh roasted coffee and swoon over [their] local cheeses.” The Christmas Dinner Menu will be available for previewing, and there will be giveaways for children.

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A Green Gift Guide: For All Your (Eco-Friendly) Holiday Needs

Go Green

For the yoga-enthusiast, get an environmentally friendly, all natural yoga mat. You can find one at Brooklyn store Omala, 400 Atlantic Ave., or www.omalausa.com/journeyyogamat.html.

Know someone who needs new dishes for their kitchen? Give them bamboo kitchen products. Many places are selling them now, including The Brooklyn Kitchen on Lorimer St. in Williamsburg. Bamboo is strong and is the fastest growing plant on earth. Instead of cutting down a 50-year-old tree, damaging the surrounding environment, bamboo is cut down and regenerates after three to five years with no negative impacts to the plant or environment (calibamboo.com).

An aluminum or stainless steel water bottle as a gift ... read more

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Recycle-A-Bicycle Raises Money Selling Bike Jewelry

When faced with the coming winter, with people riding their bicycles less and not buying any new ones, how does Recycle-A-Bicycle generate funds? By selling jewelry made out of bicycle parts, of course!

Last Tuesday, Karen Overton, the founder of Recycle-A-Bicycle, had a table at “Crafted at the Creek,” an event at The Creek restaurant in Long Island City where local artisans gathered to sell their goods. Overton sold her bicycle jewelry, the profits of which ... read more

Image courtesy of Karen Overton

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Forget Plastic Bags, Use Reusable Bags!

With growing concern about the environment, many people have started using re-usable bags when they shop, whether for groceries or just household items. As was reported last month, Mayor Bloomberg is proposing a six-cent fee on plastic bags in New York City, which would be an added incentive to reduce and reuse.

Now more than ever, the Brooklyn Eagle wants to encourage readers to carry with them a bag or a
tote so as not to collect and throw away these plastic bags. Should Bloomberg’s idea come to pass, plastic bags will not only impact the environment, they will also impact your budget.

Certain tote purchases will even help a third cause. The Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter, has started selling “Forget Me Not” Go Green shopping totes (right), with the Foundation’s logo and pictures of forget-me-not flowers on them. Proceeds from each sale ... read more

Image courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter

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Green Desk Has Its Open House

Two weeks ago, Green Desk, an office building in DUMBO that rents out green office space, had its open house. Miguel McKelvey, one of Green Desk’s owners, said the event was “about celebrating the tenants,” and gathering them together to meet socially. There was a ribbon cutting, and Councilman David Yassky and Borough President Marty Markowitz spoke. “There were about 100 people there at all times,” said McKelvey, who explained that people were constantly filtering in and out.

The current tenants of Green Desk were invited and encouraged to invite their friends and families. McKelvey said that one person who attended the event came in the very next day to rent out space and started working the morning after that. The building in DUMBO has six floors, three of which are occupied. Tenants range from software companies, fashion designers, and even a business that sells backpacks and laptops with solar panels on them, added McKelvey. He said the event was very successful, and that having the politician there adds to “the idea that Brooklyn is becoming a home for the environmentally conscious.”

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6/15 Green Composted Brooklyn's Leaves, Picked Up Where City Left Off

When New York City decided, due to budget cuts, not to collect leaves separate from garbage this year, community garden 6/15 Green decided to do something about it.

While leaves are always being composted in the garden, this year, members decided to put the word out to all of Brooklyn — and even the rest of the city — inviting anyone who has leaves to bring theirs to the garden.

So they set up four composting events: three that took place over the past two weekends and one that will take place this coming weekend.

Jessica Katz (pictured at right with Sung Uni Lee, a garden member and Master Composter; her three-year old daughter Masai Matale; garden member and Master Composter Holly Hallmark; and volunteer Anthony Ciccone), a member of the garden, helped organize these events. She is a “Master Composter,” having taken a course at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and not only helps compost the leaves given to 6/15 Green, she also ... read more

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A Tree Moves in Brooklyn

What do you do when a 200-ton Ginkgo Biloba is in the way? Move it, according to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The process to start moving a large Ginkgo Biloba tree in the garden began in the spring, when Perfection Tree Experts was hired to make the move. As the first step, the company scored a circle around the tree to prepare its roots.

Vice President of Horticulture and Scien
ce Research at the garden, Patrick Cullina, explained that ... read more

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Galapagos Art Space On Its Way to LEED Certification

As an artist and director of the Galapagos Art Space, Robert Elmes believes environmental awareness is important. “If the arts can’t show leadership, who can?” he asked. “It’s a privilege to work in the arts...we have a responsibility to lead with social issues.”

So when building Galapagos, he decided to make it as environmentally efficient as possible and pursue LEED certification, hiring architect (and LEED-accredited professional) Tony Daniels to do it.

LEED is “a green building rating system supervised by the U.S. Green Building Council,” said Daniels. “It’s a universal standard to measure green performance.”

The Green Building Council calculates how green a building is with ... read more

Photo courtesy of the Galapagos Art Space

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Brooklyn Heights Association Makes the Neighborhood Greener

Fifty years ago, as a part of the fight to stop Robert Moses from splitting the Heights with the highway, the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) planted trees throughout the neighborhood.

Since then, the association has established a tree fund to support the continuation of these tree plantings. Last year, the BHA planted 27.

Irene Janner of the BHA said that two years ago, the organization held a drive to raise money for its tree fund. Members of the association starting looking for empty pits that they could plant in, then consulted the Parks Department, which ... read more

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Outdoor Recycling Containers Come to Busy Brooklyn Locations

More and more, people are asked to separate recyclables from other trash indoors. Outdoors, it’s still “one size fits all,” as pedestrians throw all sorts of refuse—candy wrappers, half-eaten donuts, flyers for sales at drugstores, newspaper—into sidewalk trash receptacles.

Technically, people aren’t supposed to throw personal trash, such as items they’ve received in the mail, into these public containers, but that doesn’t seem to stop anybody.

Now, the Department of Sanitation is installing 33 new blue and green recycling bins in outdoor locations around the city. An announcement was made on last month at City Hall Park with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilwoman Jessica Lappin and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.

Nine new recycling bins are being installed in Brooklyn – at McCarren Park in Greenpoint; two in Prospect Park, at the Ninth Street and Prospect Park West entrance and at the corner of Ocean and Parkside avenues; at the intersection of Church and Flatbush avenues; at the intersection of Adams, Fulton and Willoughby streets; at the intersection of Hastings Street and Oriental Boulevard; at the intersection of Avenue S and East 32nd Street; and at the intersection of 44th Street and Seventh Avenue in Sunset Park.

Anyone with even a casual acquaintance with the Brooklyn scene will know that these are some of the busiest locations in the borough. The Ninth Street entrance to Prospect Park, for example, is where concert-goers enter during the summer; the intersection of Church and Flatbush Avenues is the historic center of Flatbush; and the Adams-Fulton intersection is the beginning of the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge.

At these locations, blue bins accept metal, glass and plastic containers. Green bins accept newspapers and other paper products.

Jack Katz, executive director of the Flatbush Business Improvement District (BIDs), said that at the Flatbush-Church intersection, “Trash containers are overflowing on all four corners.” The containers were installed two days ago, he said, so it’s too soon to gauge their effectiveness.

Eugene Patron, a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance, said that trash in the park tends to be seasonal. The alliance, a public-private fundraising group for the park, often places its own trash containers within the park, he added.

Patron welcomed the new development, saying that the old-style see-through trash bins, familiar to every New Yorker, are often stolen “or turned upside down and used to place barbecue grills on.”
The effort, according to the Sanitation Department, is being conducted in cooperation with 18 BIDs throughout the city.

The public recycling program was begun in April 2007 as part of the city’s long-term waste management program. Several bins were installed in the city before the current expansion, including one at Front Street in DUMBO.

Story by Raanan Geberer

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Park Slope Food Co-op Introduced Valet Bike Parking

“Hey, would you like me to park your bike for you?”

Ever fantasized about hearing these words as you wander around looking for a dependable utility pole you can entrust your bike to? Well, members of the Park Slope Food Co-op on Union Street may be able to kiss those heavy chain locks and removable front wheels goodbye, at least while they’re grocery shopping.

On Saturday, Oct. 18 the co-op held a one-day trial for free valet bike parking. The trial, which ran from noon to 5 p.m., was devised by an exploratory committee of the co-op set up to encourage people to ride their bikes.

“We feel there are a lot of people who would ride their bikes here but don’t because of theft and the difficulty of finding a spot to park your bike,” said Ken Coughlin, a member of the co-op for 20 years and a member of the board of directors at Transportation Alternatives, a biking advocacy group.

So, the Shop and Cycle Committee is looking to remove any obstacles keeping members from pedaling their way to this members-only organic market, which is now in its fourth decade and has close to 14,000 members.

“To properly lock a bike in New York City, it can take four or five minutes,” noted Coughlin.
The committee is also trying to increase the number of bike racks on the street. “We think it’s an ‘if you build it, they will come’ sort of thing,” he says.

Transportation Alternatives, which does valet bike parking at many of its events, provided “tech support” for Saturday’s trial. They lent the co-op a tent for the informational booth and the temporary bike rack, which is the same type used at triathlons.

For “valet tickets,” the committee re-used plastic yogurt lids and wrote the names of fruits or vegetables on them. So if a member was handed “watercress,” the valet hooked an identical one on the bike so the right person could reclaim it.

As of about 3:30 p.m., 40 bikes had used the service, and at one point the rack was at capacity, according to co-op member Lloyd Hicks, pictured above.

“It is a bit of a pain to find a spot,” said member Amy Wolfe after handing off her bike to the valet. “This is a very good service,” added her companion, Bennett Baumer.

The hope of the committee is that the co-op will adopt this as a shift. Part of being a member means that you have to work a shift at the co-op once every four weeks—and with so many members, the co-op has quite a work force and can explore offering such a seemingly luxurious service— for free, no less.

“If we succeed in shifting some co-op members from cars or shopping on foot to bikes, this will also make the streets safer for cyclists in general because studies show that the more cyclists on the streets, the safer it is for all of them,” said Coughlin.

“It’s a form of transportation that is better for our city and our world than driving a car, for a host of reasons, including cleaner air, less reliance on oil and safer, human-scale streets,” he added.

Photo and story by
Phoebe Neidl

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Brooklyn's Got A New Environmental Service Facility

WRS Environmental Services, a full-service environmental response and remediation contractor, has opened a facility in East New York.

Founded in 1992 and originally called Waste Recycling Solutions, the company has other locations in Long Island City, Queens, and Long Island. Among the services they offer are emergency spill response; asbestos decontamination and removal; and transportation and disposal of materials.

WRS’ services address both hazardous and non-hazardous conditions, on a 24/7 emergency response basis, and as part of carefully planned and executed remediation, new construction and ... read more

Photo courtesy of WRS

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Green Teen Essay Contest Winners Announced

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Flowerworks, a florist and landscape contractor, sponsored a Green Teen Essay Contest. Contestants ages 12 through 18 were asked to write a 250-300 word essay on how teens can help Mayor Bloomberg implement his initiative to plant a million trees by the year 2018.

The first place winner—and recipient of $500—was Glynn Greenwood Pogue, a 16 year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant resident who attends the Beacon School in Manhattan. The second place winner was Rebecca Schmidt, a 14 year old from Central Brooklyn who attends Clara Barton High School, and the third place winner was Olufemi Leverett, a 17 year-old also from Central Brooklyn who is a student at Packer Collegian Institute. Both received $250.

Pictured here are Green Teen Essay second place winner Rebecca Schmidt from Central Brooklyn; Cristiana Fragola, Director of Million Trees of NYC; third place winner Olufemi Leverett from Central Brooklyn; first place winner Glynn Greenwood Pogue from Bedford-Stuyvesant; Angel and Marcia
Melendez, owners of Flowerworks Landscape Contractor and Elijah Graves II, a student at MSASE High School in Central Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of Flowerworks

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How Superfine Got Its Name

Tanya Rynd, one of the owners of Superfine Restaurant in DUMBO, says that when she and her friends Cara Lee Sparry and Laura Taylor were looking for a name, they consulted Webster’s Dictionary. One of the definitions of the word “superfine” is “of refined taste or texture.”

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Green Business Owner Also Owns Kung Fu School

Cynthia Barnett has opened a Kung Fu school above her other business, DUMBO Pet Care. She used to train in Kung Fu before starting DUMBO Pet Care two and a half years ago and has parntered with her old teacher to begin this new venture. The grand opening of the school was on Oct. 18 and featured a demonstration and a party. Can you guess what color belt Barnett is? Green.

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