Tag Archive | "green"

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

The Green Economy, a work in progress

and Aisha Al-Muslim, Damiano Beltrami, Anastasia Economides, and Kate Zhao

New York entrepreneurs are figuring out how to get the green by being green

Green businesses are popping up all over the city—from Flatbush Avenue in downtown Brooklyn to the Bowery in Manhattan. But the term “green business” is somewhat amorphous. Entrepreneurs who are striving to be “green” are still figuring out what that means. What is the best model for a green business? Does every green business have to be green in the same way?

Take the Metropolitan Exchange building, in Brooklyn, which houses sustainable and cooperative businesses. Or Green Depot, in Manhattan, a supplier of environmentally friendly and sustainable building products, services and home solutions. Each one represents a different example from a complex mosaic, but they can both give some insight into exactly what it means to operate a green business in the city.

The Brooklyn Model: Sharing Space and Recycling

Al Attara, a visionary and community-oriented Brooklynite, as well as a self-described junk collector, is finally seeing his green dream take shape. And he’s not trying to buy anything new. For years, his seven-story building (with 6500 square feet per floor) at 33 Flatbush Avenue, now dubbed the Metropolitan Exchange building, was filled with furniture and other thrown out items Attara has collected and kept in storage. Now, the antique desks, tables, shelves and chairs are being recycled by young and creative entrepreneurs and innovative green start-ups. By opening up the loft space and connecting sustainable collaborative businesses, he has created a cooperative working environment. He sees it s an ongoing and constantly developing project.

“Everything’s in flux. You never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. You just have to be flexible,” said Attara.

LISTEN to Al Attara talk about his vision for the building:

Attara’s building houses various organizations, such as EcoSystems, an eco-furniture design and consulting firm; Treehouse, a shared rentable workspace recently founded by EcoSystems on the same 4th Floor; an organic clothes company; and a co-op of architects and urban planners Attara helped form called Metropolitan Exchange.

On the 5th Floor, another tenant, Green Spaces, rents work space to socially conscious small businesses, green entrepreneurs, and low-impact start-ups looking for an affordable and collaborative environment.

LISTEN to some of the tenants in Green Spaces in their own words:

Tom Grace, 38, FarmsReach

“You get to network with folks, work with folks, you know, who are doing similar things.”

[audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/meadows/audio/0903greenspaces/tom_grace.mp3]

Sean Dimin, 26, Sea To Table

“It’s the people, it’s the space, it’s the furniture in the space, and it’s the overall camaraderie of start-ups.”

[audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/meadows/audio/0903greenspaces/sean_dimin.mp3]

Franziska Seel, 27, Global Youth Action Network

“The space has a great vibe, it’s a great atmosphere to work here with everyone.”

[audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/meadows/audio/0903greenspaces/franziska_seel.mp3]

John Hodges, 39, SunOne Solutions

“This space is very vibrant, dynamic.”

[audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/meadows/audio/0903greenspaces/john_hodges.mp3]

Green Spaces founder Jennie Nevin, also of the networking group Green Leaders, opened the environmentally conscious business in May 2008. The space houses more than 20 organizations and 35 people are currently using the space.

For $425 a month, tenants get their own permanent desk area, access to filing cabinets, high-speed internet, fax machine, copy machine, conference room, kitchen, and interns. A person can also rent a choose-your-own-space from the lounge for $225 a month. Nevin said she plans to open other GS locations through the nation.

Find out what makes Green Spaces an environmentally friendly business:

Attara says he still plans to fill the rest of the floors with like-minded people. There are plans in the works to install a green roof, and maybe even a vegetable garden. A poster just inside the front door tallies votes how the space should be used. For now, it’s still a cooperative work in progress.

The Manhattan Experiment: Selling eco-friendly products

For those who would rather buy their green materials than scavenge them, there is now at least one city location you can go. Green Depot opened a new flagship store—its first retail store—on Bowery Street in Manhattan in February. With its warehouse store in Brooklyn and other locations along the East Coast, the green building material supplier has begun to broaden its sales from contractors to everyday consumers.

The Manhattan store offers a variety of items from no-VOC paints (which don’t contain harmful chemicals) to energy consumption monitors, from eco-friendly cleaning supplies to organic rugs. Green Depot offers its own products, but they also sell products from competitive green brands. Restaurant owners, design professionals and building contractors seek out the store specifically for its green supplies.

When you walk in, you’re struck by the scent of the countryside coming from a pair of soybean candles ($39.95) made of the U.S.-grown soy wax and organic essential oils. Then you brush past a soft baby towel ($19.95) made of un-dyed, unbleached, 100 percent organic cotton. You sample a sip of water from the Aquaovo Ovopur water filter. It looks and tastes pure ($650). For those willing to pay, the store offers myriad possibilities.

“This retail store is kind of the link between a user or consumer and those builders’ products, ” said Christopher Zappala, operational manager of Green Depot for four months. He said that new parents are some of the store’s best customers, as they are excited about the store’s new baby line. Zappala himself even uses Green Depot diapers for his seven-month-old baby.

Check Out What’s Inside Green Depot:

However, even supporters of green businesses are not sure now is the right time for materials and supplies that are expensive, even if they are “green.”

“It’s not the right model to survive in hard times,” said William Baumol, an environmental economy professor at New York University. In the long run, however, Baumol thought the government should reexamine the tax instructions for the whole green business industry and help them for the public good. In an economic downturn, it’s much harder than ever for green business to survive—to be sustainable, if you will.

Some critics, such as Albert Wang, an investment manager from Qualcomm Ventures, said that the overheated investment in the green industry might ignite the next round of investment bubble. But most venture capitalists, economists and entrepreneurs look positively at green businesses.

“Today it’s a good time to invest in the long-term development since the costs are lower than any other times,” said Baumol.

In the federal stimulus bill passed in February, there is $50 billion available for green companies. The government will provide tax rebates, tax cuts and other supportive measures for green businesses. Both Green Depot and the Metropolitian Exchange building could benefit greatly from this sort of investment.

Posted in Multimedia