Archive | Earth Day

Green Products Pitch at Earth Day Fair

Reported by Sergey Kadinsky, Alana Rigal, Ben Fractenberg                                                                              Collage by Ben Fractenberg

Earth Day 2009. New York’s historic Grand Central Terminal hosted a massive Earth Day Festival, taking up three city blocks and the Vanderbilt Gallery inside. 108 organizations participated in this year’s event. An unseasonably high temperature also ensured a strong turnout on the two-day fair’s April 24 opening.

Little stands crowded next to each other, with colorful and hands-on displays which offered tips and new ways on how to save energy, green household products, and some tables that were just for fun.

There were a variety of creative green enterprises represented, including products manufactured from cardboard, sails, and even elephant dung.

Many of these green projects are publicly-funded, and promoted innovative technologies like hybrid buses, the expansion of bike lanes; and tax credits for solar panels on green rooftops. The event was free and open to all.

Earth Day was first observed in 1970, as a grassroots campaign spearheaded by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson.

Posted in Earth Day

Chelsea Piers Leads NYC in Wind Power

These windmills in Fenner, New York provide power to facilities in NYC

By Valerie Lapinski, Colin Orcutt, Maureen Sullivan, Nicole Turso, and Brian Winkowski

New York: The New Windy City?

City officials on Thursday honored Chelsea Piers, the country’s biggest sports and entertainment complex, for converting to 100% wind power. Chelsea Piers made the switch in October, making it the biggest business in NYC to use wind energy – equal to taking 2800 cars off of the road, or offsetting the generation of 13,600 tons of green house gas emissions.

But although Chelsea Piers is perched on the breezy west side of the city, the windmill in front of the building is merely decorative. Instead of spending money in attempt to harness wind itself, the facility buys wind credits, which act as a pre-order on wind power being generated somewhere else.

“This is energy that has no supply line around the world, it’s generated here at home. It has no emissions, no climate change impact, and once the investment is made it has no fuel costs,” said Jorge J. Lopez, CEO of ConEdison Solutions at Thursday’s event.

NYC Honors Chelsea Piers for Wind Power

Do-It-Yourself Wind Power

Some people don’t want to wait through this process–from wind farm to energy supplier–to get their energy, but still want to harness the power of the wind.

Energy2Green touts the idea that wind and solar power systems can be built right at home.

Gotwind.org also has a step-by-step guide on how to build your own wind turbine.

It turns out the city isn’t opposed to a little DIY engineering – last summer Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced support of windpower on skyscrapers, a sentiment consistent with his 25-year sustainability initiative, PlaNYC.

This recent piece in the New York Times profiles several buildings in the city that operate at least partially on windpower from installed turbines.

How Wind Credit Works

Wind power is the second most successful renewable source of energy after hydroelectric, or water-fueled turbines that create energy.

Companies like Chelsea Piers buy wind power credits from energy suppliers, including ConEdison Solutions, Accent Energy and Energetix, who buy power from wind farms located throughout the United States. Since some days are windier than others, it’s the suppliers’ job to make sure that their clients are getting the amount of power they’re paying for.

Jorge J. Lopez, CEO of ConEdison Solutions, explains wind credit:

These farms send wind-generated power to the electricity grid that is then verified by an independent audit system and directed to homes and businesses. Customers can choose whether they will receive wind power, standard power, or a combination of the two. Here’s a handy graphic from the BBC that illustrates how wind energy gets to the power grid.

Wind power, however, does come at a premium cost—about two and a half more cents per kilowatt. In addition, customers can choose which wind they will receive—either nationally produced or regional, though regionally produced wind power is more expensive.

As for Chelsea Piers, facility directors think the environmental benefit is worth the extra investment.

“We were surprised to learn that the incremental cost of purchasing 100 percent green power was actually quite small,” Chairman Roland W. Betts said in a press statment. “We believe it will pay for itself in a few years.”

Posted in Business, Earth Day, Featured, Manhattan, Multimedia

NYC Goes Green for Earth Day

By Jim Flood, Jessica Simeone, Michael Preston, and Kate Nocera

Click on the image to learn more about the volunteers and activities at the Green Apple Festival

On a beautiful spring day in Manhattan’s East Village, volunteers came out as part of the three-day Green Apple Festival, a yearly Earth Day event that spans 10 U.S. cities.

Mike Lytle, the head gardener at Tompkins Square Park, put teams of volunteers to work aerating, composting and mulching the park’s flowerbeds. They were there not just to work, but also to learn.

“This is what builds the Earth, this is what improves everything and makes everything easier to do,” Lytle said as he explained the role of composting in the circle of life. “I’m trying to show everyone that the soil is alive,” he added.

This year New York’s Lower East Side hosted three Green Apple Festival events, organized by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the Lower Eastside Girls Club and the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

The festival, now in its fourth year, was a little different than in previous incarnations.  This year the festival is putting a huge emphasis on volunteerism.  In the past there were street festivals going on in conjunction with the volunteer efforts.  Due to economic constraints this year that aspect of the festival was dropped from the list.  A free concert for the volunteers was added in place of the street fairs, said Lily, a communications person for the Green Apple Festival.

The Green Apple Festival is not the only one seeing the economic pinch.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg has had to make quite a few cuts to the budget, among those cuts are composting. Lytle noted that the parks still have the compost created from last Fall’s leaves, but once that runs out he’s not sure what they’ll do.

Bloomberg may be skimping on the environment in office, but his company, Bloomberg L.P., is listed as a generous supporter of International Compost Awareness Week being held this May.

Compost is just what volunteers at Tompkins Square Park were getting their hands dirty with on Saturday.   A pitchfork-wielding Annie Levy said she wanted to do her part this Earth Day and had found the Green Apple Festival and its list of opportunities online.

“I killed a lot of trees through scripts and I definitely needed to do something,” said the 29-year-old Levy, who works in the theater industry. She picked this event because of its proximity to her apartment in the financial district.

While the volunteers at Tompkins Square Park were preparing the ground for planting real flowers, members of the Lower Eastside Girls Club were creating a different kind of flower in another environmentally friendly pursuit.

For more about the Lower East Side Girls Club and their newspaper flowers, click on the image above.

For more about the Lower East Side Girls Club and their newspaper flowers, click on the image above.

“We are teaching them how to make paper flowers,” said Lyn Pentecost. Bowls of a watery glue mixture and old newspapers rested on each table as volunteers meticulously constructed the flowers. The goal for the project is to make 300 paper flowers that will be displayed in the club’s “flower garden” before being presented to community mothers on Mother’s Day. The flowers are also sold at the club’s booth at the Essex Street Market.

The Lower East Side Ecology Center hosted a composting workshop on Friday evening. Carey Pulverman, who runs the compost education program, said that trained volunteers called the “Worm Corps” hosted the event. The group gave city dwellers a first-hand lesson in indoor composting and a tutorial for setting up and maintaining a worm bin inside their apartments.

This workshop is part of the Manhattan Compost Project, a subsidiary of the New York City Compost Project, and is offered on a continual basis.

The fourth annual Green Apple Festival included events in all five boroughs ranging from educational opportunities to gardening to arts and crafts.

Events filled up quickly with volunteers and organizations were happy for the help. Lytle welcomed the opportunity to teach the community about the life going on inside of the soil. He said there are 40,000 creatures inhabiting every square foot of soil and he happily pointed out the most interesting ones.

To see Mike talk about the park and show some interesting soil critters, watch the video below.

Mike Lytle discusses soil on Earth Day from Kate Nocera on Vimeo.

Posted in Earth Day