Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grand Central's Lighting Goes Green

It's not in Brooklyn... but Grand Central Station has recently upgraded all its incandescent light bulbs with the more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. The change should save the station an estimated $200,000 a year.

Read the report in the New York Times here.

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From Green to Pink: Cherry Blossoms Return to BBG

This weekend, tens of thousands of visitors will flock to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) to experience what has become one of springtime’s most anticipated events: Sakura Matsuri, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

While this year is the 28th annual celebration, the cherry blossom trees have been around much longer. “Some of the original planting started in 1912, and the cherry walk was actually planted in 1921,” said Mark Fisher, BBG director of horticulture.

Today, the assortment of
trees in the garden is the largest and most diverse outside Japan. The festival, which will take place this Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3, will not only celebrate the trees, but also Japanese culture.

“We continue to add more projects and demonstrations and performers each year,” Fisher told the Eagle. “It reaches both the contemporary and the traditional Japanese culture.”

Among the attractions this weekend will include music from Japanese pop star Ai Kawashima; the Sakura J-Lounge, with a lineup of DJs spinning Japanese pop and rock; taiko (an ancient art of drumming) performances; traditional and contemporary Japanese dance; martial arts group Samurai Sword Soul; and the New York premiere of the film, Transcending — The Wat Misaka Story, a documentary about the first Japanese-American basketball player in the NBA.

Special this year is a collaboration between the garden and the N.Y. Anime Festival. Anime-lovers in costume will participate in the city’s largest cos-play (costume roleplay) photo shoot and visitors will be able to read and examine the Japanese comics, also called manga. Illustrator Misako Rocks! will also discuss inspiration for her manga and also lead a special children’s session.

“I’m very proud of [Sakura Matsuri]. I’m very excited because what it highlights for us — what people enjoy — are the plants. That’s really what we’re celebrating,” Fisher said. “Cherry blossoms symbolically represent the ephemeralness of life and how fast it fleets.

“I think we all start viewing it that way as we look at the cherries and enjoy the beauty — it only lasts just a couple of weeks,” he continued. “That’s it until next year, so it becomes special for all of us.”

For additional information and a full schedule of Festival events, visit

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Greenway Bike Tour This Weekend

This Saturday, May 2, the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) will hold its seventh annual Greenway Bike Tour. It will be a 10-mile ride at a family pace, starting in Greenpoint and ending at Red Hook's waterfront.

Tour will include a restroom/water stop at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, a loop through the Brooklyn Navy Yard
and updates about the Greenway. Participants should bring a helmet, water, spare tube, sunscreen and a camera!

The meeting point will be at the northern end of Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint.

Registration is required, but the tour is free. Send full name and contact info to to register.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Remember the Tree that Moved?

Remember when the Brooklyn Botanic Garden moved a 200 ton Ginkgo Biloba tree to make way for its new visitor center, to be located at at the entrance to the garden off the parking lot to the Brooklyn Museum?

If you didn't know there used to be a tree near the herb garden, you wouldn't be able to tell. The ground is level, and if you look in the distance, you can see the tree, at home in its new location!

Check out the story here.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brooklyn Chamber and National Grid Celebrate Earth Day

Panel Discusses Energy Programs, Incentives

Appropriately on Earth Day, businessmen and women converged on National Grid’s Brooklyn headquarters for a panel entitled “Building Sustainable Businesses... Green Ways to Save.”

Presented as the inaugural event of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Real Estate and Development (RED) Committee, National Grid sponsored the panel that was a discussion about making green changes to save money.

“It’s really inspiring to see businesses like National Grid lead the way to make sure that we are green and we are efficient and that at the end of the day we are preserving the planet for our children, our grandchildren and our great-great-great-grandchildren,” said Carl Hum, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Whether you’re a small business, a retailer, a homeowner or a developer, there is something here for everybody.”

Moderated by Amanda Daly — the former director of education at the now-closed Center for the Urban Environment and a current adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College — the panel consisted of three presentations by energy experts in New York City.

Clararose Voigt, assistant project manager of energy programs at NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), spoke about energy-efficiency project incentives given out by the corporation.

“The general program structure of NYSERDA follows through the initial identification stage, where we go into your facility to evaluate and identify what energy-efficiency measure we can undertake there, what needs to be improved,” Voigt explained. NYSERDA “then follows through onto the installation phase, where we provide work incentives to actually implement those measures that we identify.”

Building Incentives
For commercial and industrial programs, the incentives can be given to both existing buildings and construction projects. The process is split for existing buildings, which get incentives for energy studies through the FlexTech/Technical Assistance Program (for medium/large customers) or the Audit Program (for small customers), then get incentives for installation through the Existing Facilities Program. For construction projects, the New Construction Program provides incentives from program identification through installation.

Voigt said the Existing Facilities Program is then split into two categories: pre-qualified incentives for spot retrofits and small projects, and performance-based incentives for large-scale projects. Projects can receive up to $30,000 with pre-qualified incentives, and for performance-based incentives, the amount is based on the energy savings or demand response. For information, visit

Julie Hughes, assistant vice president of energy efficiency at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), focused her presentation on steps the city government is taking to reduce the city’s energy consumption. This is part of a 10-year plan initiated by Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC program.

PlaNYC’s goal is to reduce emissions in New York City by 30 percent by the year 2030. This will be done by investing in clean power, establishing more efficient transportation, and, most importantly, making the city’s existing buildings more energy efficient.

“What we really need to address is the building stock that’s already here,” said Hughes. By 2030, she said, an estimated 85 percent of emissions will be generated from buildings we already have as opposed to new construction.

Hughes went on to explain that the capital needed to complete this plan is higher than the city’s available funds, so part of the strategy is to invest in projects that will save the most energy and have the quickest payback period.

Reaching Out to Broadway
The mayor has also reached out to universities, hospitals and Broadway — because of its use of so much electricity — to follow the City’s lead. Fifteen universities have already signed on, the EDC is currently in talks with hospitals, and Broadway has “taken the program and run with it,” Hughes said.

James Madsen, manager of energy efficiency at National Grid, spoke about the company’s gas and electric efficiency programs and incentives.

“In 2008 we had 53,000 participants in our gas programs that resulted in 12.2 million therms saved, equivalent to 71,000 tons of CO2 avoided. Our electric programs have even more participants: 372,000, with 420,000 megawatt hours of electricity saved, and 236,000 tons of CO2 avoided,” Madsen said. “Taken together, that’s about the equivalent of keeping 50,000 cars off the road for a year.”

Madsen urged everyone present to research high-efficiency products in case their older equipment needs to be replaced immediately. Most of the time, he said, repairpersons will offer replacements that only have standard efficiency.

Incentives from National Grid can be applied to many different products or improvements, ranging from standard heating equipment to kitchen equipment to solar water heaters. The energy company will also evaluate non-standard products for incentives. For more information, visit or

An example Madsen gave of a Brooklyn facility to take advantage of incentives was the Aviator Sports Complex in Floyd Bennett Field. For installing radiant heating, high-efficiency water heating and a high-efficiency boiler, among other things, the complex received $100,000 in incentives.

Joe Rende, National Grid vice president of energy services solutions, said, “By working together, with that power of action, we can make a big impact in tackling climate change, starting right here today on Earth Day.”

“Its no secret that I think Brooklyn is the center of the world. So when we celebrate Earth Day, I can’t help but think we’re celebrating ‘Brooklyn Day’ as well,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. “Brooklyn is a green jewel for the rest of the country to emulate.”

Photo at top is, from left to right: Panel Moderator Amanda Daly, the former director of education at the now-closed Center for the Urban Environment and a current adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College; Presenter Julie Hughes, assistant vice president of energy efficiency at EDC; Presenter Clararose Voigt, assistant project manager of energy programs at NYSERDA; Joe Rende, National Grid vice president of energy services solutions; Rick Russo, VP of member services at the Chamber; Lori Raphael, director of real estate and development at the Chamber; and Presenter James Madsen, manager of energy efficiency at National Grid.

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New Building for Poly Prep's Lower School 'Blends Old and New'

Addition Earns LEED Silver Certification, Awarded by Landmarks
Poly Prep Country Day School just became something for not only Brooklyn to brag about, but also New York State.

Poly — which has its middle and upper schools on its campus in Bay Ridge — recently built an addition to its lower school in Park Slope, earning the school a LEED silver certification and making it the first LEED-certified school in New York City and the first LEED-certified primary school in New York State. The expansion was also given a Lucy G. Moses Preservation award by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

The lower school occupies the Hulbert Mansion at 50 Prospect Park West, which was built in 1882 as a double townhouse. Since the ’20s, the building was occupied by the Ethical Culture School, then the Woodward Park School. Poly Prep took over in 1995.

The new addition, completed in 2008, was undertaken to provide Poly’s Lower School with more classroom space and exercise rooms. It was designed by architects Platt Byard Dovell White.

Since Poly already had instilled green values in their students and a green curriculum throughout their schools, they decided to take on the addition to make it as eco-friendly as possible.

Green features of the expansion — built on a lot next to the original Hulbert Mansion — include a 31 percent reduction in water use, 308.4 tons of construction waste that were diverted from a landfill, and sealants, paints and carpet systems that are 100 percent low-VOC (volatile organic compound).

Each green feature gave Poly’s Lower School a certain number of LEED points. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a building rating system overseen by the U.S. Green Building Council, which gave the addition 34 LEED points, earning it a silver status.

It was also important for Poly to preserve the building’s historic features. “Historic preservation really is ecologically responsible,” said spokesperson Malcolm Farley.

The Landmarks Conservancy gave Poly Prep Lower school the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award because of this commitment to preserving the historic character of the original building, as well as the neighborhood surrounding it.

While the addition is contemporary, the materials and colors used in it complement the Hulbert Mansion and the Park Slope Historic District.

Poly Prep Headmaster David Harman accepted the award at a ceremony that took place Monday night in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

“We’re thrilled to be the only school, the only educational facility that’s being honored tonight,” Harman told the Eagle.

He emphasized Poly’s commitment and leadership in the area of environmental responsibility. Indeed, children in the school as young as 4 learn about and study the environment.

Launa Schweizer, head of the lower school, said the students love learning about the environment. Her own children attend the lower school, and she said, “They’re always telling me about turning the lights off and not wasting water.”

About the new building, Schweizer said, “We’re very proud of it — the ability of the architects to blend the old and the new is really wonderful.”

The Lower School’s receipt of this award continues a Poly tradition. Two alumni are previous winners, and a Poly parent was the architect of another project to receive an award on Monday.

Photo courtesy of Poly Prep Country Day School

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Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day began in 1970. It was an idea proposed by then-senator in Wisconsin Gaylord Nelson, so people would think about the environment, what they were doing to harm it and what they should do to help it. It's celebrated every year on April 22.

So take a moment to appreciate the earth and do something green today!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Park Slope BID Committed to Recycling

After at least four years of attempts, a Business Improvement District (BID) has finally come to Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, and it’s about time, says Irene LoRe (right), owner of Aunt Suzie’s restaurant and executive director of the new BID.

“We took a couple of wrong turns,” she explained. “But we finally got our act together.”

Stretching along Fifth Avenue from Dean Street down to 18th Street, the Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID is self-funded with a budget of $300,000. It held a holiday tree lighting in Washington Park and a Valentine’s Day promotion. LoRe said that the organization will soon release a web site, a blog and hopefully a guidebook.

This week, in honor of Earth Day, the new BID launched a recycling initiative.

The initiative, called “Green Grows in Brooklyn,” is an expansion of something that 3r Living, a store on Fifth Avenue that sells eco-friendly and organic products, has been doing since it opened five years ago.

Samantha Delman-Caserta, co-owner of 3r Living, said her store has always taken batteries, small electronics, CDs, VHS tapes and cell phones to recycle. Their recycling containers are always full, and Delman-Caserta says she sends the items to an outside company (in the U.S.) to be processed.

The aforementioned 3r Living was footing the bill for this recycling, and it was getting to be too much of a burden for the store to shoulder all of the expense. So when the BID formed, Delman-Caserta approached LoRe about making the recycling a BID initiative.

Several Fifth Avenue merchants have joined in, all putting green tree signs in their windows and asking customers to donate one dollar to the cause this week because Wednesday is Earth Day.
With the BID taking on the fundraising, it would allow more drop-off points for recycling, and also one day every so often where larger items would be collected, such as computers and microwaves.

“It’s a very exciting beginning to what we hope will be a successful program and campaign to green Brooklyn,” said Delman-Caserta.

LoRe noted that in this economic downturn, recycling programs are often the first ones to be cut. “I’m looking for all of us, merchants and customers alike, to share this burden,” she said. “We can’t leave recycling behind.”

Photo courtesy of Allford Trotman Photography and Video

Monday, April 20, 2009

Order Groceries, Plant a Tree

To celebrate Earth Day, food delivery service FreshDirect will make a tree donation to the Nature Conservancy's "Plant a Billion Trees" campaign for each order of $100 or more scheduled for delivery on April 22. Orders must be placed by April 21 to reserve Earth Day delivery service.

Hold off on ordering groceries until then, if you can, and make a real impact on the earth for Earth Day!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Less Garbage From Red Horse Cafe

Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn reports that the Red Horse Café at 497 6th Avenue in Park Slope will not serve beverages in disposable paper or plastic on Earth Day
The eatery will debut a new line of stainless steel and ceramic mugs with the its rocking horse logo. Guests of the café are also encouraged to bring their own mug.
Read about this as well as other green initiatives at the Red Horse Café here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Let the Earth Day Celebrations Begin

Every year since 1970, April 22 has been celebrated as Earth Day. The idea was hatched by then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who wanted to spread awareness about the environment and what needed to be changed in our habits as stewards of the planet.

Now, 40 years later, with the economic climate combined with the climate crisis, Earth Day seems even more important.

We have to take action, to save our planet while also saving money, maybe by replacing light bulbs with ones that are more energy-efficient, buying used clothing, or cutting down waste by bringing lunch to work (or school) instead of buying it.

Making changes in your daily habits to positively impact the environment will also increase an appreciation for that environment. Earth Day celebrations held throughout Brooklyn do just that: celebrate and appreciate the Earth by raising awareness.

Here’s a list of some upcoming Earth Day events:

New York Aquarium Earth Week Green Fest
Now through Sunday April 19 including April 22, New York Aquarium, 610 Surf Ave
The week features a Green Fest — a celebration of all things “Green” at the aquarium. Exhibits and vendors will be on hand to help you and your family learn about what you can do to protect our planet. The event will feature: sea lion shows, demonstrating how to protect our sea life; keeper chats with the help of animal ambassadors; an Earth Day mural, where families can help create an artful tribute to the planet; a chance to make an Earth Day souvenir using recyclable materials; music with a “Save the Earth” theme; local public school children displaying murals created from recyclable art; and canvas shopping bags for children to decorate.
Admission is $13 for adults, $9 for children ages 3-12 and $10.00 for senior citizens (65 and older); children under 3 years of age are admitted free. For information, call (718) 265-FISH or visit

Earth Day Celebration with PACC
Saturday, April 18, 10 a.m. -1 p.m., Gibb Mansion at 218 Gates Ave. between Classon and Franklin avenues
Be a part of the 45th anniversary celebration of the Pratt Area Community Council and make Gibb Mansion greener. Prep soil, plant flowers, build a raised vegetable bed and pick up gardening tips from a Brooklyn-based landscape architect. Also available will be coffee and breakfast from a local bakery, desserts by Michael Allen.
RSVP to rsvp@pratt Call (718) 522-2613 ext. 14 for more information.

Earth Day at Habana Outpost
Saturday April 18 and Sunday, April 19 from noon-6 p.m., Habana Outpost, 757 Fulton St., corner of South Portland
The two-day free event will feature green crafts and face painting for children sponsored by Habana Works and The Leadership Learning Lab; a children’s eco-fashion show with the Scrapkins; and a recycled art show featuring the art work of local students. There will be information for adults from groups including Green Homes NYC, Transportation Alternatives, Green Spaces and Brooklyn Green Drinks, as well as Habana Outpost suppliers, Solar Energy Systems, Tri State Bio Diesel and Rolling Press.
For more information and a schedule of events, visit or call (718) 858-9500.

Earth Day Celebration at the Greene Grape
Saturday April 18 and Sunday April 19, 753 Fulton St. at South Portland and 765 Fulton St.
Plant sale, April 18 and April 19 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Outside Greene Grape Provisions, 753 Fulton St. at South Portland, the Brooklyn Brownstone Garden District will hold an edible plant sale and help kids make ‘seed bombs’ using recycled coffee grounds from the coffee bar.
Wine tasting, Saturday, April 18 12 p.m.– 7 p.m., Think Global, Drink Local: The Greene Grape Wine store at 765 Fulton will be holding an all-day tasting of environmentally-friendly wines, featuring the founder of Brooklyn Oenology, a Brooklyn label that uses New York grapes and labels by Brooklyn artists, who will pour Social Club White 2007; and three wines will be opened from the Greene Grape’s monthly New York Cork Club, which features two new wines each month from the Empire State.
Wine tasting Sunday, April 19, noon-7 p.m., Economical and Earth-Friendly: The Greene Grape Wine store at 765 Fulton St. will be holding an all-day tasting of environmentally-friendly wines, featuring four organic wines all under $15 including a 1-liter Malbec (a type of wine) in a tetrapak (Yellow+Blue Malbec 2007).
For more information, visit or call (718) 797-9463.

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts National Grid “Earth Month” Celebration
Sunday, April 19, 5 p.m., Walt Whitman Theatre Plaza at Brooklyn College, 2900 Campus Road
The second day of the second annual National Grid Earth Month celebration, to be held following a performance of Montana Repertory Theater’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Educational materials, give-away items and family activities will highlight the need for conserving energy, recycling in the home, and having a heightened awareness of the global issues that we face today. The Council on the Environment of New York City’s Office of Recycling, Outreach and Education will present interactive family recycling games, the Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust will be on hand to promote urban composting, and the New York City Fire Department will provide life-saving tips on fire safety in the home. Live music by Showstoppers and large-scale puppets from the Brooklyn College Community Partnership program will also be featured.
National Grid Earth Day Celebration events are free and open to the public. Tickets to To Kill a Mockingbird may be purchased through the BCBC Box Office.
For more information, visit

Celebrate Earth! Festival at Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Saturday, April 25, Sunday, April 26, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave.
The new Celebrate Earth! Festival features events including: hands-on art and science workshops that focus on the planet’s resources and the ways people can care for them; crafting a pressed flower or a book cover from candy wrappers; an eco-scavenger hunt through the museum; discovering the science behind wild weather; help creating a sculpture from recycled items; touring the green features of the new museum, and more.
For more information and a schedule of events, visit or call (718) 735-4400.

10th Annual Gowanus Canal Earth Day Flotilla Spring Clean-Up
Saturday, April 25, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., meet at 2nd and Bond streets at the Canal
The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy will guide eco-volunteers on an ecological cruise to explore, rediscover and help collect floatable debris in and along the historic Gowanus Canal.
To register, call (347) 224-5687, (347) 224-5828 or e-mail

Block Institute Earth Day Celebration
May 6, all day, both Block Institute locations, 376 Bay 44th St. and 2214 Stillwell Ave.
Featuring an Earth Day-themed lunch; art projects made from recycled materials; spring planting and garden preparation; a recycling drive; and a Mother’s Day/Earth Day sale of green bags, plants, wooden roses, arts and crafts and note cards. Special guest Miss Brooklyn 2009, Keelie Sheridan, will be attending.
For more information, call (718) 946-9700 (Bay 44th Street location) or (718) 947-3200 (Stillwell Avenue).

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Green Books Donated to D.A’s Family Justice Center

The Family Justice Center at the Brooklyn D.A.’s Office just got a little greener.

Brooklyn-born author Suzanne Corso visited the center yesterday to donate 10 copies of her new book, Sammy and Sue Go Green Too. District Attorney Charles Hynes (pictured with Corso) was on hand to receive the donation.

Hynes called Corso a “wonderful, aggressive entrepreneur, who is generous and kind to donate 10 books to our Family Justice Center.” He added, “I can speak as an expert because I have 16 grandchildren.

Born and raised in Bensonhurst, Sammy and Sue Go Green Too, is a collaboration with Corso’s 10-year-old daughter, to whom she has taught eco-friendly habits.

Since she instilled green values — such as shutting off the lights, eating organically and using eco-friendly paints — in her daughter, Corso figured, “If I could teach her, I could teach anybody.” So she started her company, Sammy and Sue Enterprises, which is a company geared toward educating children about all things green.

Sammy and Sue Go Green Too is the first in a series of children’s books Corso will release about environmental awareness. While she donated the books to the Family Justice Center this week, the official release of her book will be on Earth Day, April 22.

Corso wants to urge parents to “teach your child one thing a week, one thing a month,” about being eco-friendly. “We have to hit this generation,” she said.

The Family Justice Center, opened by D.A. Hynes in 2005, is a support center for domestic-violence victims and their children, offering a variety of services, including legal support.

Last month, thousands of books were donated to the center to create the Brooke Jackman Library and Literacy Center, in memory of the 23-year-old college graduate who perished in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Visit for more information on Corso’s books and company.

Rep. Velázquez Discusses Efforts to Help NYC Small Businesses Lead in the Green Economy

The Eagle received this press release:

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez sat down with local businesses and community leaders on Tuesday to discuss ways for New York City to lead the nation in developing sustainable manufacturing and green jobs. She also toured a number of environmentally-friendly businesses in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The Congresswoman’s district, which includes the Navy Yard, contains some of the most significant clusters of green manufacturers in the United States.

“The efforts being spearheaded in Brooklyn show small businesses across the country the benefits of developing and using new technologies,” Velázquez said. “These entrepreneurs are opening new businesses to manufacture green products, and have drastically cut their overhead costs by increasing energy efficiency. This is a business model for the nation to follow.”

At Tuesday’s Green Manufacturers Business Roundtable, co-hosted by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation and the New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN), Velázquez highlighted the assistance available for entrepreneurs to continue leading in the development of green products and technologies.

New York City is home to as many as 25,000 green collar jobs, but that number is projected to skyrocket in coming years. The Navy Yard, where 30 businesses currently employ 350 people, expects to triple its green manufacturing operations in the next three years.

“New York City’s economy will benefit from the green revolution. As other sectors scale back, these industries continue to grow and bring good-paying jobs to our communities,” Velázquez said.

As Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, Velázquez worked to ensure the Energy Independence and Security Act signed into law last year included initiatives that give entrepreneurs the tools to acquire efficient technologies and increase renewable production. This year, the Committee plans to reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which helps small firms get the capital needed to develop new, cutting-edge products.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also helped business development by renewing green energy tax credits and making it easier for small businesses owners to obtain loans. With small firms making up 84 percent of New York’s manufacturers, these efforts will help as they shift focus to environmentally-friendly products and technologies.

“Small business owners face unprecedented challenges in today’s environment, but their ingenuity and determination is untouched. By supporting efforts to bring sustainable manufacturing and green jobs to our City, we can help small firms pull the nation out of this economic downturn,” Velázquez said.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brooklyn Navy Yard Sails Forward On Wind and Solar Power

Mayor Bloomberg came to the Brooklyn Navy Yard (BNY) yesterday to open the new Perry Avenue Building, the nation’s first multi-story green industrial facility. The $25 million building, which began construction 18 months ago, is on track to receive LEED gold certification and features the first permanent building-mounted wind turbines to be operating anywhere in New York City.

The building “heralds the emergence of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the city’s most successful industrial business, as the nation’s greenest industrial center as well,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
He also announced the creation of Duggal Greenhouse, a 60,000-square-foot LEED platinum certified facility that will be a “center for designing and manufacturing eco-friendly products.”

These projects, as well as other green initiatives, will create 800 new construction jobs and “more than 1,700 new permanent jobs over the next two years, many of them in green manufacturing and design,” the mayor said. Right now, there are 350 green jobs at the Navy Yard, but “within two years we project that there will be nearly three times that many.”

Mayor Bloomberg made his announcements on the roof of the building, in front of the new wind turbines. He was accompanied by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber, BNY Development Corporation Chairman Alan Fishman, BNY Development Corporation President Andrew Kimball, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member David Yassky and Assembly Member Joseph Lentol.

The turbines, combined with rooftop solar panels, will provide electricity for the building’s lobby and other common areas, which will amount to about 10 percent of the overall energy. The rest comes from a power plant in the Navy Yard, which uses natural gas.

Other green features of the Perry Avenue Building are reflective roofing and pavement to reduce surface temperatures, the use of recycled rain water in toilets, recycled building materials, high-efficiency lighting fixtures, natural ventilation systems and special accommodation for bicyclists and low-emission vehicles.

SurroundArt will lease the building, and will create a Museum Resource Campus to serve the art industry and institutions in New York City.

Five wind- and solar-powered street lights (below), created by Duggal Visual Solutions (who will create the Duggal Greenhouse), have been installed in the Navy Yard. Eventually, there will be 90 of these street lights in the facility.

“Not only do the [wind- and solar-powered street lights] cost 35 percent less to install than their more conventional counterparts, they’ll also save the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation about $11,000 annually in the cost of electricity,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

Borough President Markowitz said of Baldev Duggal, the mastermind behind the wind-solar street lamps, “these are the kind of visionaries that this city is investing in. That’s why I know that our future is going to be superb. It has to be. New York, and especially Brooklyn, among the most environmentally active communities across the country, will lead the way.”

President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, Andrew Kimball, said, “It’s easy to be green when you have a mayor who’s become an international/national leader on urban sustainable issues ... it’s easy to be green when you have local elected officials who are pushing us everyday to create those jobs, particularly green jobs.

“Most of all it’s easy to be green when you have tenants like SurroundArt and Duggal Visual Solutions and 30 other green manufacturers already doing business inside the Navy Yard,” Kimball continued. “People across America are talking about green jobs, they’re talking about the future. We have those jobs here today at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.”

The expansion of the Navy Yard and creation of green sector jobs is part of the city’s “Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan.” This plan will “help New Yorkers find work today, create jobs in diverse sectors in the future, and make our neighborhoods more affordable and more green as we go,” said Deputy Director Lieber.

New York City is implementing a $250 million capital funding program to improve and modernize the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s infrastructure. The expansion will add over 1.5 million square feet of new space. Mayor Bloomberg announced last month that the city’s $35 million project to reconstruct several roadways in the Navy Yard area and upgrade water and sewer systems will benefit from nearly $5 million now available due to the Federal stimulus allocation to the city.

Green Condos on the Market

DUMBO NYC reports that the condos in the green building at 100 Gold St. in Vinegar Hill. The 5-story, 10-unit building is being marketed by Corcoran and is the first green building in Vinegar Hill.

Check out the prices and info here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Visit the Green Exhibit at the Museum of the City of NY

The Museum of the City of New York has an interesting exhibit showing now through Earth Day, April 22. It's called "Growing and Greening New York: PlaNYC and the Future of the City," and if you haven't seen it yet, you should check it out.

The exhibit takes you through a day in the life of a "typical" New Yorker, touching on six different features of the day: water, transportation, energy, open space, land and climate change.

You can sit in a "green" living room, examine a solar panel up close, see a model of the Bronx Zoo Lion House (the first LEED gold retrofitted New York City landmark), and much more.

Everyone who visits the exhibit is guaranteed to learn something; useful facts and information abound. For example, did you know that a leaky faucet wastes 20 gallons of water a day?

It's so importa
nt in these times to learn as much as you can about the environment and what you can do make an impact. The museum geared the exhibition toward individuals, showing them that it's possible to reduce the effects of global warming one step at a time, said Deputy Director Sarah Henry.

Here is a list of upcoming programs associated with the exhibit:

  • Big Apple Brownfield Awards, Monday, April 13, 10 a.m. The Partnership for Brownfield Practitioners celebrates New York City's most successful brownfield clean-up and redevelopment projects. Reservations required, $15 general admission, $10 museum members, seniors and students.
  • PlaNYC: Innovations and Legacy, Wednesday, April 15, 6:30 p.m. A discussion of the relationship of PlaNYC to the history of urban planning. With Dan Doctroff, president of Bloomberg LP, former deputy mayor for Economic Development and the originator of PlaNYC; Hilary Ballon, university professor ans associate vice chancellor for NYU Abu Dhabi; and Thomas Bender, university professor of the humanities, NYU. Registration is required.
  • From Fram to Table: New York City's Local Food Movement, Tuesday, April 21, 6:30 p.m. Panel discussion on being a "locavore" in the city. With Dan Barber, executive chef/co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Blue Hill; Michael Hurwitz, director of Greenmarket; and Ian Marvy, director and co-founder with Michael Hurwitz of Added Value and its Red Hook Community Farm. Gabrielle Langholtz, editor of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn, will moderate. Reservations required.
To make reservations, order tickets online at or by phone at (212) 534-1672 x 3395. Visit for more information.

Photographs by C. Bay Milin

Questions Surround Closing of Center for the Urban Environment

Though the 30-year-old Center for the Urban Environment (CUE) has been shut down for a week, information on why it closed has been scarce. With the exception of a press release sent out by the staff detailing their reaction, no one is saying much about the abrupt closure. Calls to executive director Patricia Synan and former executive director Sandi Franklin have not been returned.

A source close to the center, however, indicated that lawyers have instructed the staff not to publicly discuss the issue, and that the future plan is to file for bankruptcy. The source explained that since CUE didn’t own its building — it had a 35 year lease on the recently refurbished Gowanus location — the biggest element of value is most likely intellectual property, i.e. the school programs.

Reached by phone, Founder John Muir told the Eagle that he was “dismayed and surprised that the organization has closed,” but added (in Latin), “of the dead, speak nothing but good.

“At the time I retired, CUE was a not-for-profit of astonishingly good health. We were on budget with $3.5 million with a half a million in reserve,” Muir said. “Since that time I have had minimal contact with the organization, but had the impression that they were doing very well. My wife and I attended the 30th anniversary celebration [in November] and everything spoke of prosperity.”

Sources have said that one possible reason CUE went under was the debt generated from renovating the building.

Speculation has also arisen that the current economic climate may have played a factor in CUE’s decline, causing funding to dwindle and fundraising to be difficult. Representatives at the center were either unavailable or unable to comment.

Other sources, however, indicated that funding was not the problem, but would not elaborate.

— With additional reporting by Dennis Holt

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Center for the Urban Environment: What Happened?

I recently received the following press release from the former staff at the Center for the Urban Environment, which abruptly closed its doors last week:

The staff of the Center for the Urban Environment is saddened and shocked by the recent events surrounding CUE’s closing this passed week. The 30-year old nonprofit, based in Brooklyn, was one of New York City’s leading providers of environmental education and was always at the cusp of innovative programs and tours, along with its recently launched Sustainable Business Network.

“We understand it was a difficult decision that was made by the Board of Directors. We had all hoped that a restructuring of the organization would’ve addressed some of the immediate financial concerns—where options of merging or retiring some of our programs could have sustained the organization's life. Corporations file for bankruptcy and maintain operations all the time. It’s such a shame to have abruptly ceased our programs to tens of thousands of school children, teachers, businesses, residents, and tourists alike,” said Aisha Glover, former Director of Public Affairs at the Center for the Urban Environment.

“CUE’s best assets have always been its staff and the knowledge and expertise they maintain. Ideally, we’d find a home for this expertise and our programs would be able to live on. We are educators, urban planners, tour guides, community liaisons, and artists with knowledge about an array of topics on the sustainability spectrum. From concepts as complex as energy efficiency and green building design for high school students or adults to activities that use puppetry and hand-crafted board games to teach pre-schoolers about recycling and conservation. There’s really an enormous amount of talent that existed at CUE and still exists through its staff,” says Michelle Piano, former Manager of Early Childhood Programs.

The Center for the Urban Environment provided hands-on educational programs and tours throughout New York City, making a concerted effort to address the great disparity between communities that need this information and communities that actually access it through programs such as its Family Literacy Initiative. CUE used its 30 year history of educating New Yorkers from all walks of life about how to live, create, and promote a more sustainable future. Through urban tours, school programs, a sustainable business network, and events and workshops for the public, CUE served nearly 100,000 New Yorkers each year.

Despite this statement, questions still remain. As for why the center closed, some sources say it's because of funding cuts and drops, others maintain funding wasn't the reason.

Former members of the staff are reluctant to address these issues, though they do emphasize the tragedy that now over 40 people are unemployed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Brooklyn Compost Project Is Finalist in 'Green Heroes' Contest

Out of submissions sent in from across the country, a small Brooklyn program based out of P.S. 146 — The Brooklyn New School — is one of ten finalists in the “Green Heroes” grant program given by the Clorox Company.

Clorox, which makes a line of natural cleaners called Green Works, has offered a $10,000 grant to the five winners of the competition, to be determined by online voting at Anyone can vote on the web site, as many times as they want.

The Brooklyn program, “Feed a Worm, Not a Landfill” was conceived by Matthew Sheehan, a former fourth-grade teacher at The Brooklyn New School and a Master Composter, certified by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Sheehan said that currently there are 15 worm composting bins throughout the school maintained by several teachers. However, this only allows the school to compost between 40 and 50 percent of its food waste. Sheehan’s goal is to compost 100 percent of the waste.

His vision for this large-scale composting is a series of Vermiculture Compost Systems (VCS), which will hold 80 pounds of worms. “The worms can eat about half their weight in one day,” he said. The school’s food waste will be put in a different bin for every day of the week, allowing it time to start composting before more food waste is added.

Compost generated from these bins will serve two purposes: it will be added to the school’s garden, and it will be bagged and sold to raise money for the school, said Sheehan.

Also included in the project proposal is a plan for a “shredder house” said Sheehan. Schools in general produce a lot of paper, and all the paper from P.S. 146 will be shredded and added to the worm bins as the carbon component, aiding in composting.

Sheehan, while dedicated to the school as a former teacher and the parent of a kindergartner, was hopeful that “Feed a Worm, Not a Landfill” will help the surrounding communities and be an example for other schools.

“We want to bring it to the wider community,” he said, explaining that, having volunteered at Added Value in Red hook, he hopes to partner with them during the project as well.

“This is something that could really benefit the city, no doubt,” Sheehan said of his program, especially in light of recent cuts of composting programs citywide. “If the city can’t do it we can do it ourselves.”

And with the right tools, anyone can do it, he says — “[my son] has his own worm bin at home.”

Photo courtesy of Green Works

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Brooklyn Loses Beloved Environmental Organization

This week, the Brooklyn-based Center for the Urban Environment (CUE) closed its doors after 30 years of service to the borough and the rest of the city.

A nonprofit that gave urban tours in all five boroughs and had programs in over 300 schools throughout the city, CUE’s funding had recently been cut. It was reported in the Eagle in February that New York State’s Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Grant Program (ZBGA) was to be eliminated, resulting in a $62,000 loss for the center.

Founded by John Muir in 1978, the organization was originally knows as the Prospect Park Environmental Center, then the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment. It operated out of the Prospect Park Tennis House until last year, when it moved to its last location in the LEED Gold-certified building on Seventh St. in Gowanus.

Sources say that one reason CUE went under was the debt generated from renovating the building. State-of-the-art green technologies were installed, such as a “walk-off grate” was installed on the floor just inside the doorway, a lighting system that will adjust to the amount of natural light coming into the building and the most energy-efficient desktop computers on the market.

Speculation has arisen that the current economic climate may have also played a factor in CUE’s decline, causing funding to dwindle and fundraising to become difficult. Representatives at the center were either unavailable or unable to comment.

Whatever the cause, there have been indications for several weeks that something was amiss at CUE. There were reports of employee layoffs, and Executive Director Sandi Franklin abruptly resigned.

Franklin took over as executive director in 2002 from Muir, who had held the position since he founded the organization. Upon Franklin’s resignation, the board of directors appointed Patricia Synan, first vice chair of the board and a retired school superintendent, to serve as interim executive director.

“A lot of nonprofits are going through a hard time right now,” Aisha Glover, director of public affairs at CUE, told the Eagle in March. “But everybody is really hopeful about moving forward... we’re actually okay.”

But hope, apparently, wasn’t enough. “Effective immediately, the Center for the Urban Environment is closed,” is Glover’s current voicemail message.

What will happen to the green building is unknown, as developer David Sweeney, from whom CUE leased the space, did not return calls by press time.

Remembering CUE

There’s no doubt that the Center for the Urban Environment will be missed. Eagle managing editor Raanan Geberer recalled not only the urban tours he took through the center, but also the ones he gave.

“I was always interested in local history, and wanted people to know more about it,” he said. As for the organization’s impact, “They made people aware of places or aspects of the city that they wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise.

“I’m very surprised it closed because it’s been around for so long,” he added. “It seemed to me that it was actually expanding.”

Brooklyn Brewery owner Steve Hindy, a friend of Franklin’s, said, “The Center for the Urban Environment was doing very important environmental programs in many public schools in Brooklyn. I think it’s a shame that their efforts are no longer continuing.”

Go Green Expo in Manhattan This Month

Go Green Expo, the largest environmentally focused business and consumer show in New York’s history, announced today its return to the city for the second year in a row. It will be open to the public on April 18-19, at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan.

Some of the exhibitors include: Disney’s Earth movie, The Sundance Channel’s The GREEN, DELL, Home Depot, Food Network’s Good Food Garden, and Honda’s all-new advanced hybrid vehicle, The Honda Insight.

“We are so pleased to bring Go Green Expo back to New York for the second year in a row,” said CEO and Founder Bradford Rand. “Last year’s event was such a success with over 10,000 attendees, and we have even more to look forward to this year.”

The event will showcase a variety of special interest consumer and business areas including: home building and energy conservation; health, beauty and fashion; travel and transportation; business and electronics and a kids zone.

New Yorkers will have the chance to see, learn and interact with the latest in energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly products and services, as well as participate in interactive seminars with leaders in the green industry, local politicians and community organizations.

Some Highlights:

— Stars Mariel Hemingway and Nigel Barker will join environmental leader Josh Dorfman and bestselling authors Julie Edelman and Seth Leitman as some of the headlining names participating in this year’s event.

— Over 20 notable environmental and business leaders including Jen Boulden, Founder of and Gay Browne, Founder of Greenopia, on speaking panels about today’s most topical green issues including Greening Your Business, Greener Transportation, Renewable Energy, Green Tech and Green Leadership.

— Food Network, in conjunction with their charitable partner Share Our Strength®, a childhood hunger relief organization, will feature a Good Food Garden visitors can learn how to plant fresh food.

— Green Spaces, a New York City based green business competition, will announce this year’s semi-finalists on April 17 at 2pm, followed by a panel discussion that will include the winning companies’ three-minute elevator pitches to an audience of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

— ConEdison Solutions WIND Power Program allows ConEdison users to get FREE admission for the weekend when they bring their ConEdison energy bill to the expo and sign up for wind power.

Weekend passes to the expo cost $10 for adults and are free for children and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at or in person at the show.

The Center for the Urban Environment Has Closed Its Doors

The Eagle learned (via a posting on Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn) the the 30-year-old Center for the Urban Environment (CUE) — formerly the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment — has closed its doors. Calls to the center yielded voice mails or former employees not at liberty to give statements.

In early March, Executive Director Sandi Franklin (who took over from founder John Muir) resigned after eight years of service and was replaced by Pat Synan, a member of CUE's board of directors. In her tenure, she moved CUE to its current location on Seventh St. in Gowanus. The building was renovated and recently achieved LEED Gold certification.

There's no doubt that Brooklyn has lost a valuable institution. CUE sponsored tours of all five boroughs of New York City and held programs at over 300 schools city-wide, educating students about the urban environment and sustainability.

In November, Franklin told the Eagle, “It’s a quiet revolution. I think its getting louder among [the activists.] But I don’t think it’s getting louder among the immigrant population, and I don’t think it’s getting louder in the ghetto populations, and I don’t think its getting louder in deprived and poverty stricken populations.

“It’s because they can’t afford to engage in it because they’re worried about survival,” she added. “I’m trying to flip it — I’m trying to say: ‘Let’s make survival this.’”
CUE will be missed.

Mayor Bloomberg Proclaims April 2009 MillionTreesNYC Month

The Eagle received this press release:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg Wednesday proclaimed April 2009 as MillionTreesNYC Month in New York City. The month seeks to engage New Yorkers in MillionTreesNYC, a public-private partnership between the City of New York and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) that aims to plant one million new trees throughout the five boroughs by 2017.

It was announced at the event that 173,229 trees have been planted since MillionTreesNYC was launched in October 2007, far exceeding the initiative’s yearly target planting goal.

“Spring is a time for growth and renewal, and MillionTreesNYC Month in April 2009 encourages all New Yorkers to get involved in greening our city,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By planting trees in parks, on streets, and in your own front and backyards, you can help create cleaner air and cooler streets, which will improve the health of all New Yorkers..”

Trees have been planted in places such as schoolyards, public housing sites, health care facilities, business districts, commercial and residential developments, front yards and other private lands.

Throughout the month, Parks, NYRP, and MillionTreesNYC partners will host free citywide events for the public, including Earth Day and Arbor Day celebrations, tree education seminars, tree stewardship workshops, tree pruning instructional courses, and Urban Park Ranger tree identification hikes throughout the city.

All New Yorkers are encouraged to plant trees in their front and backyards during MillionTreesNYC Month. The One in a Million Tree Coupon, supported by BNP Paribas, offers $20 off the purchase of a 1-inch caliper or larger tree at 13 select New York City garden centers and nurseries throughout the five boroughs.

Coupons are available online at, the MillionTreesNYC official web site, or at participating nurseries. All New Yorkers will share in the many benefits that come from planting trees in their yards — more beautiful neighborhoods; cleaner air and water; higher property values; energy savings; cooler summer streets; and a healthier, more environmentally sustainable City.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

'Breakthrough' in Green Technology

McBrooklyn reports on a most intriguing new green technology. "Green" subway turnstiles will actually produce power to move trains in Brooklyn. Check it out here.

April Fools

Greenway Pedals Forward

Almost 100 people packed into Speak Low Cocktail Lounge here on Monday night to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the three founders of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) and those who have supported them for the past five years.

It’s BGI’s five-year anniversary, but its founders,
Meg Fellerath, Brian McCormick and Milton Puryear (pictured above with Independence Community Foundation (ICF) Executive Director Marilyn Gelber), have been advocating for the Greenway for much longer.

“Myself and Milton have been working on the Greenway since 1998,” McCormick told the Eagle in December. “We were the chair and co-chair of an organization called the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Task Force. Meg joined us about a couple of years later.”

The three of them incorporated as the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative in 2004. They envisioned the 14-mile off-road path, spanning from Greenpoint all the way down to Bay Ridge, to be multi-use and have different components. According to BGI’s plan, the path will be between 20 and 30 feet wide in total, encompassing a 4- to 8-foot landscaped buffer between it and the street, a 10- to 12-foot bike bath, and a 6- to 10-foot pedestrian path.

Because the route travels through many different neighborhoods and community boards, the first step was to enlist the support of these community boards and their officials.

The magnitude of the project required that it be split into pieces. The first piece was “the middle section, Community Boards 2 and 6 — the Brooklyn Navy Yard through Red Hook,” as Puryear described it. Next, they tackled the area in Community Board 1, Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and started setting up design guidelines.

“One of the purposes of the design guidelines was to try to come up with a scheme that would let you know that you were on the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway no matter where you were on it,” he continued. “But that also allowed each neighborhood to have a different feel in design quality. Unlike Hudson River Park, which is fairly uniform in terms of the Greenway design, we envisioned the Brooklyn Waterfront to really look good and feel different in different neighborhoods.”

Puryear told the Eagle that the next step for BGI would be to work with the city to develop what he called a “master plan for the whole 14 miles of the Greenway.” And now, this step is slowly approaching a reality.

BGI announced at the party that “the NYC Department of Transportation has committed to a producing a master plan for the entire 14-mile Greenway route — a major project milestone,” said McCormick. “This work will begin later this year.”

Also announced on Monday night were two more partnerships: one with the Horticultural Society of New York to launch a green-collar mentoring program along the Greenway route, and another with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation to offer historic bicycle tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the fall.

Upcoming events include the seventh annual Greenway Bike Tour, on May 2, and as usual, BGI will continue its monthly Greenway cleanups, which take place on a stretch of Columbia Street along the waterfront that was paved last summer. McCormick has called it the “non-designed interim Greenway,” and BGI has assumed responsibility for its upkeep.

“If people are going to use it and think it’s the Greenway, we need to do our part,” Fellerath said. The monthly cleanups along the street generate interest, build the community and “establish our presence on the Greenway.”

The next cleanup will be this Saturday, April 4. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail To register for the 10-mile Greenway Bike Tour, send full name and contact information to