Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coney Island Wonder Wheel Is Going Solar

This summer the Coney Island Wonder Wheel will be getting 32 solar panels, reports the Daily News. The panels will generate enough power to light bulbs on the ride’s 16 cars, which were removed for safety reasons in the 1980s. A battery will store energy for not-so-sunny days, according to the News, which also reports that if all goes well this summer, more solar panels could be installed the following year, powering the entire ride off solar energy.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Green Mountain Energy Offers Alternative for Brooklyn Customers

A grassroots approach isn’t generally something you would associate with big companies or with an energy provider.
But since Green Mountain Energy company — the leading provider of clean energy in the nation — launched in New York last summer, its employees have been using exactly such an approach, visiting greenmarkets and fairs, and educating potential customers.
Through a partnership with Con Edison, Green Mountain opened its New York service territory last August, becoming the only energy services company dedicated to clean power in the region, said John Holtz, director of East Region Markets. Started in Vermont, the company, is now headquartered in and serves Texas, as well as Oregon and New Jersey.
Holtz and Green Mountain’s other New York employees visit greenmarkets throughout the city, introducing the company to residents, and also educating them about the fact that they have a choice of who they can buy their electricity from. Many people don’t know they have a choice, Holtz noted.
Con Edison customers can simply visit www.greenmountain.com/newyork or call toll free, (877) 216-GMEC (4632) to switch energy services companies. The bill will still come from Con Edison, but the electricity will come from Green Mountain.
In Brooklyn, Green Mountain has had a regular presence in the greenmarkets at Borough Hall, Grand Army Plaza and Fort Greene.
Greenmarkets “are a perfect place for us to be,” Holtz said, “because we’re selling a product, we’re selling a service, but we’re also selling a movement.”
Representatives — including a “Super Earth” mascot (pictured above) — set up a booth at September’s “Green Brooklyn … Green City” fair, hosted by the Council on the Environment of New York City, and Green Mountain will also co-sponsor this fall’s Atlantic Antic.
He explained that residential customers have the option between two electricity products: “Pollution Free” and “100% Wind.” The difference between the two is that the Pollution Free product delivers electricity made from local sources — 10 percent wind power from turbines upstate and 90 percent hydropower from small local dams. The 100% Wind product comes from wind turbines across the country: in Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon.
Purchasing Green Mountain Energy can have a substantial impact on the environment. According to data supplied by the company, an average New York City household using 100% Wind for one year can offset nearly 8,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of not taking 2,000-plus cab rides, or recycling almost 20,000 aluminum cans.
Holtz says that though purchasing electricity through Green Mountain is slightly more expensive than through an energy service company producing power from coal (approximately $10 more a month), he hasn’t encountered resistance. “I’m very pleased with the reception we’ve gotten here.”
Brooklyn has been especially enthusiastic: Green Mountain’s very first New York customer was a Park Slope resident. Convivium Osteria Restaurant in Park Slope purchased electricity through Green Mountain, as did the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Bensonhurst. Archstone, a leading developer of multi-family housing, purchased electricity for its 12 New York City properties, one in Brooklyn Heights.
“We wish we had started earlier,” said Michelle Pulixi, owner of Convivium Osteria. She said she started purchasing electricity from Green Mountain about a month ago. “We are an environmentally conscious business … we’re just doing it to have a clear conscience.”
“We have big hopes for New York,” said Holtz. “New Yorkers are very conscious of the environmental issue.”
Photo by Mary Frost

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Park Slope's 3r Living Closing its Doors

Green home goods store 3r Living on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope will be closing its doors at the end of the month. A few weeks ago, owners Samantha Delman-Caserta and Mark Caserta posted a sign on their door, that said,
"When we opened this store in April of 2004, it was a dream come true. Over the past five years we have been honored to provide the community with greener, healthier and safer options, as well as a much-needed community recycling center. We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of the customers and friends we have made over the years."
Some inventory is still left, for sale between 20 to 75 percent off, and the store's fixtures are now for sale. Though this store will close, the husband-wife team will continue to operate a store in Maplewood, NJ and an online store at www.3rliving.com.
Last year, Delman-Caserta told the Eagle that her store has not been immune to the current economic climate.
"We’re not asking you to come out and spend money that’s going to put you in jeopardy," she said at the time. “What we’re saying is, if you’re going to go out and buy, think about what you’re buying and think about where you’re buying it and what it does for you. Buying from a major retailer, the money doesn’t come directly back to your community.
"Buying from a brick and mortar or a mom and pop shop in your neighborhood, I believe it’s close to 50 percent of the money that you spend stays within your community, if not more," she noted.
"A lot of small businesses are just not going to be able to make it through the long haul. We just have to count on our neighborhood and hope that they all understand that shopping locally really does make a difference,” Delman-Caserta continued. "Even if it’s ten dollars it makes a difference."
The Casertas continue to urge their customers to shop locally. The final paragraph of the store closing sign on their door states:
"Also, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help us to make sure that this does not happen to other businesses in the area. Eat, drink and shop local! Supporting restaurants, boutiques and bars on 5th Avenue, even just a little, can go a very long way."

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jeff Garlin to Speak About Carbon Footprint at BookCourt

On Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., comedian Jeff Garlin (best known for the role of Jeff Greene on the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm") will visit BookCourt to read from his new book, My Footprint: Carrying The Weight of the World, a humorous account of his attempts to lessen both his physical and carbon footprint. BookCourt is at 163 Court St. For more information and other readings, visit www.bookcourt.org. You can purchase his book on amazon.com.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

New York's Appliance Swap Out

The  New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is instituting a new rebate program for New Yorkers who want to replace their current appliances with new Energy Star qualified appliances or High Efficiency Energy Star appliances.

NYSERDA will offer a rebate for those who want to replace existing appliances, but a larger rebate will be granted to those who recycle the old appliances. Appliances must be purchased between Feb. 12 through 21. to qualify.

Visit www.nyapplianceswapout.com for eligibility guidelines and the online rebate application.

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NYU-Poly Prof Given Fulbright Study Psychology of Sustainable Design

Richard Elliot Wener, Professor of Environmental Psychology at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) was awarded a four-month Fulbright grant to lecture and conduct research on the psychology of sustainable design.

Dr. Wener’s research focuses on how to improve design so as to encourage sustainability. Will easily accessible and highly visible recycling bins remind tenants not just to recycle but also to act responsibly and use less water in the shower, for example?

For his grant, he will travel to Europe to examine sustainable buildings in Germany and Austria and lecture at the Vienna University of Technology.  

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Friday, February 5, 2010

New Yorkers Recycle Half Million Pounds of Textiles at Greenmarkets

The Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) has announced that New Yorkers have recycled 530,000 pounds of used clothes, shoes, linens, towels and other textiles since 2007, the year that it launched its textile-recycling program at its greenmarkets.
The program is a partnership between CENYC and textile recycling company Wearable Collections. More than 20,000 people have participated in it, at greenmarkets city-wide, including those at Grand Army Plaza, Fort Greene and McCarren Park.
Collected textiles are taken to a sorting facility and categorized based on reusability and type of fabric. They are then taken to specific markets where they are in demand.
For more information about CENYC’s textile-recycling program, visit www.cenyc.org/recycling.

Brooklyn Green Team Raises 1K at Party

The Brooklyn Green Team held a party at Bar Reis in Park Slope, in celebration of its second anniversary of grassroots activism last weekend. The group of friends, who got together after seeing the film The 11th Hour, raised $1,000 at the party, which they are donating to Park Slope green home goods store 3RLiving, the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Partners In Health for Haiti relief.
Money was raised through a cover charge and a silent auction. Some of the items included a gift certificate to Park Slope restaurant Aunt Suzie’s, a $100 gift certificate to Green Apple Cleaners, a nature photograph donated by Green Team founder Amanda Gentile, a greenmarket basket donated by the Council on the Environment of New York City and a free yoga class.
The Brooklyn Green Team, pictured here at the party from left to right, is Robert Weinstein, sisters Amanda and Noelle Gentile, Jennifer Bartels, Melissa Browning and Johanna Voutounou.
Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Green Team.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cold Weather Getting You Down? Head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Chase away the winter blues at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). According to the its web site, exposure to daylight, even on a cloudy day, can help restore energy, alertness, and contentment. BBG has a wealth of ongoing programming, from classes to public tours.
Choose from an extensive list of adult classes this winter: register for one in Tai Chi Cuan, or one in designing a brownstone garden. GreenBridge, the community environmental horticulture program at BBG, offers free workshops (space is limited) in topics such as starting seeds indoors or street tree care.
Coming up this Sunday, Feb. 7, there will be a special theme tour to rid you of the winter blues: an hour-long wintertime walk conducted by Lynne Spevack, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and veteran BBG tour guide . Two tours remain this season, one this Sunday, Feb. 7, and one on Sunday, March 7, beginning at 1 p.m. Meet at the Visitor Center, dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. Rain or shine.
Or, you can visit the garden on your own. Admission is free on weekdays from now until March 2.

Photo courtesy of BBG.

Monday, February 1, 2010

City Tech Professor's Solution to Climate Change: Resources From Space

City Tech physics Professor (and Bed-Stuy resident) Gregory L. Matloff recently released a new book he co-authored called Paradise Regained: The Regreening of Earth.
The book outlines how space resources and space-based power generating systems can work together with Earth-based conservation to meet industrial needs and forge a sustainable future.
Matloff co-wrote the book with Les Johnson, deputy manager of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Advanced Concepts Office at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Al.
“With an ever-increasing share of the human population making the transition to the ‘developed’ world,” said Johnson in a press release, “will come increasing stress on the Earth’s environment, natural resources and ability to produce enough food. The modern environmental movement is tackling these problems head-on by promoting energy efficiency, recycling and renewable resources. While these strategies and technologies are vital, they will be woefully insufficient to provide for a prosperous, long-lived global society with a moderate-to-high standard of living.”
The solution to a progressively worsening environmental situation and its negative impact on society will require “drawing upon the vast energy and material resources that space alone can provide,” said Matloff in a press release. “Doing so will enable us to create a cleaner, healthier environment essential to sustaining life on Earth far into the future.”
Paradise Regained is published by Springer Science & Business Media and is available on Amazon here.

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