Monday, June 29, 2009

Green Bowling in Billyburg

Former Wetlands Team To Deliver Bowling,
Food, Music With Eco-Friendly Spin

There are solar panels in the Heights, wind turbines in the Navy Yard and a greenmarket in Bay Ridge, so it’s no surprise that Brooklyn is now home to what is probably the first green bowling alley in the world: Brooklyn Bowl.

Owners and founders Charley Ryan (above left) and Peter Shapiro (above right) signed a lease for their space at 61 Wythe Ave. two years ago and are set to open within the next week. Their commitment to sustainability is one of the reasons it’s taken so long for Brooklyn Bowl to become a reality.

They didn’t take their eco-consciousness lightly. Among the many green features of Brooklyn Bowl are: 100 percent wind-powered electricity; wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC); pin-spotters that use 75 percent less energy than regular pin-spotters; draught beers sourced locally; no bottles or cans; 100 percent reclaimed cork floors in the bowler’s lounge; and a stage floor made of 100 percent recycled truck tires.

“Our water usage will be minimal,” Ryan said, explaining that urinals in the men’s room will use only a pint of water when flushed rather than a gallon.

He and Shapiro are pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the building, which dates back to 1882. The cork floors, the tire floors and the pin-spotters, however, didn’t fit in with the LEED system and didn’t garner the building any points toward certification. These features were installed anyway because they wanted to do the right thing, Ryan said.

Environmental activism is nothing new for the pair, who together operated the Wetlands jam band venue in Manhattan, which closed in 2001. Both have histories of environmental activism behind them. Ryan told the Eagle that in the early ‘70s, he campaigned to save a pygmy forest in northern California from development — and won. Then in the ‘80s he lobbied against incinerators, and in the ’90s he swam around Manhattan to raise environmental awareness.

Shapiro founded GreenOrder, a consulting firm specializing in sustainable business, with his brother in 2000. He also founded the Green Apple Music Festival, a musical celebration of Earth Day, a few years ago in Manhattan, which has since expanded across the country. Ryan called the festival “the biggest Earth Day celebration in the world.”

But even though Ryan and Shapiro have strong environmentalism backgrounds, “We’re not really interested in preaching,” Ryan said. “Ultimately, what we’re doing here is providing a place that’s fun.”

The space has a capacity of 600 people with 16 bowling lanes and a state-of-the-art sound system. The elevated bowler’s lounge is strategically placed next to the stage. The food’s by Blue Ribbon and the beer’s all Brooklyn: Brooklyn Brewery, Six Point and Kelso.

Brooklyn Bowl won’t preach environmentalism, but Ryan thinks people will get the message, and he hopes it will create a “ripple” effect.

“It was absolutely central to what we wanted to do here,” he noted. “If you believe in it, it isn’t even an option not to do the right thing.”

Photos by Adam Macchia

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Weekend Gowanus Cleanup

Eagle photographer Mike Plotz caught up with John Muir (pictured), vice chairman of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s Board of Directors and longtime Brooklyn environmentalist, at this past Saturday’s “Clean and Green” event sponsored by the conservancy.

Muir is the founder of the
now-closed Center for the Urban Environment (CUE).

At the cleanup, volunteers collected large bags of debris and weeds and also planted wildflowers and other plants on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. Organizers say that when it rains, heavy metals from car runoff will then be absorbed by the plants instead of polluting the already troubled canal.

Photo by Mike Plotz

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Brooklyn Parents Want Greener Schools

Last week, Brooklyn parents spoke a combination environmental event and Lander campaign rally outside the Old Stone House in Washington Park, which was supported by City Council Democrat candidate Brad Lander. Eagle writer Harold Egeln reports here.

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Heights Resident Turns Solar Activist

Len Gelstein, of 11 Montague Terrace in Brooklyn Heights, wanted to install solar panels on his home, but discovered that because his roof is oriented slightly north of east. For solar panels to be a good option, the roof either needs to be flat or tilted slightly south. Not to be discouraged, however, Gelstein plans to spread the word to his neighbors about solar energy. Read the full story by Zoe Thomas here.

Photo by Mike Plotz

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