By Naeisha Rose
The co-op community of Rochdale Village was recognized last week for being the first National Grid customer in New York City to receive $1 million in energy-efficiency rebates thanks to its high-tech power plant, which provides energy for its 25,000 residents, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“Rochdale Village has always been a leader,” said Stringer. “A lot of people talk about energy sustainability and efficiency, a lot of community organizations think about it, but it is rare that something gets done about it and that is what we are here to celebrate.”
Rochdale Village, situated between Baisley and Guy Brewer boulevards and Bedell Street and 137th Avenue, was once the site of the Jamaica Racetrack and a jockey club in the early 1900s. After both shut down in 1959 an affordable housing space modeled after the first one in Rochdale, England, was constructed between 1960 and 1962 and opened in 1963, according to Susan Van Brackle, the managing editor of the Rochdale Village Inc. newspaper.
Rochdale Village was built as part of the state’s Mitchell-Lama program for low to middle income residents.
The power plant on the 120-acre housing complex provides energy to 20 apartment buildings, a day-care center, three schools, a public library system, two shopping malls, two banks and a host of small businesses, according to Van Brackle.
“You don’t have to cross the street for anything,” she said. “We are self-sustained through our power plant, which is off the grid. Heat, water, steam, electrical – all of it is out of this building,” she added before general managers of the power plant gave a tour of the facility.
Before Stringer gave out the accommodation on June 28 to the board of directors at the Rochdale Village senior center. he first stopped by the power plant to see its new upgrades, which allows it to reduce energy use by 1.3 million therms, according to Herb Freedman, a property manager of the complex. A therm is a unit of measurement for the gas used at the power plant.
The power plant has four new boilers, two restored turbine generators and an upgraded cooling tower, Siobhan Dingwall, a spokeswoman for the comptroller, said. The greenhouse gas emissions that have been reduced at the facility are the equivalent of taking 1,419 cars off the road or planting 171,159 trees overall.
“We have just been invited to participate in the mayor’s carbon challenge,” said Van Brackle. “I just RSVPed yesterday.”
Volunteer participants of the NYC Carbon Challenge are tasked with aggressively cutting their energy use and emissions by 30 percent in their buildings by 2025, according to nyc.gov.
To become more energy efficient, Rochdale Village staff installed low-flow showerheads to apartments, installed roof installations with LED lighting, and worked on the upgrades at the power plant over the course of four years, and it is on its way to meeting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s carbon challenge, according to Freedman. Its efforts has resulted in over $2 million in gas savings, too.
The affordable living area at Rochdale Village is so popular that it has a three-year waiting list.
“I’ve been living here since the 1970s,” said Mary Boza. “Everything here is good, especially the air…This is good living, right here in Rochdale.”
As the city works to redevelop complexes within NYCHA, Stringer hopes that Rochdale Village will be an example.
“I think this is a model that works,” said Stringer. “When you invest in new technology you create a healthier community and you save money at the same time.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose