City grows greener with new initiatives

By Bill Parry

Two Queens members of the City Council joined numerous environmental groups Monday at Green City Force to announce over $1 million in funding for the Greener NYC Initiative.

The initiative supports programs with an environmentally friendly focus that encourage education, advocacy, community service and green-job training—contributing to the improvement and conservation of New York City’s air, land, energy, open space and other vital resources.

“The Greener NYC Initiative will improve our city’s environment by getting additional dollars to support those that are working to protect our air quality and fight climate change,” Council Environmental Protection Chairman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “Supporting green-job training and environmental education will help bring us closer to our goal of reducing our city’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. This initiative will benefit our city’s economy and public health.”

In 2014, the Council announced a climate change platform to make the city greener, more energy efficient and more sustainable. This platform includes, among many other measures, legislation to reduce the city’s car fleet and update the municipal air code for the first time in over 40 years.

“As we transition to being a greener city, there will be a growing number of job opportunities for New Yorkers to get involved in pushing us in an environmentally friendly direction,” Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said. “The programs funded under Greener NYC will ensure that we keep heading in that direction by providing New Yorkers of all ages with the education, knowledge and training needed to guarantee that our city is prepared for a more resilient and sustainable future.”

Borough conservation groups like the Alley Pond Environmental Center, Queens Botanical Garden Society and the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance are part of the Green NYC Initiative.

“At Queens Botanical Garden we will use Greener Initiative funding to offer environmental education workshops for schoolchildren, mentoring and job training for youth, and ‘dig in the dirt’ opportunities that will provide lifetime learning,” Executive Director Susan Lacerte said. “We seek to educate, to transform, to help people live greener, more environmental lives.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the official launch of the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, which will provide free technical assistance and advisory services for building owners to go green through critical energy efficiency, water conservation, and clean energy upgrades. The program is expected to reduce citywide greenhouse emissions by roughly one million metric tons per year by 2025, by accelerating retrofits in up to 1,000 properties per year—the equivalent of almost 200,000 passenger vehicles taken off the roads. At the same time, it is projected to save New Yorkers an estimated $350 million a year in utility costs and generate over 400 construction-related jobs.

“Business as usual simply won’t do when our very survival is at stake,” de Blasio said. “That’s why we’ve outlined these ambitious and necessary goals for a greener New York City.”

The Retrofit Accelerator will provide a dedicated team of efficiency advisers free of charge to help building owners and operators take action, including selecting cost-saving retrofit projects for their buildings, completing the necessary permitting, acquiring financing and incentives to help cover the costs, training building staff, and completing measurement and verification of the completed measures.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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