New Variety Boys & Girls Club in Astoria will be carbon neutral, feature renewable energy learning lab

Photo courtesy of Queens Borough President Richards’ office

The author of New York City’s landmark Green New Deal legislation announced that the new Astoria home of Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens will be carbon neutral.

Former Councilman Costa Constantinides joined Queens Borough President Donovan Richards to announce that the collaboration with Mega Development and Ettinger Engineering Associates on the redevelopment project at 21-12 30th Rd. is in the design phase. Constantinides, now the CEO of Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, said the new building will give the youth of Asthma Alley a head start on a clean energy future with its new renewable energy learning center.

“This Climate Week, the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens is proud to unveil our plans to build our new building carbon neutral and have it function as a renewable energy learning lab,” Constantinides said. “For too long, our community has borne the brunt of fossil fuel technology polluting our backyard. Now our kids will see the energy revolution on a firsthand basis learning how we go green right here in western Queens. We are excited to help the scientists of the 21st century on their first steps toward leading the way.”

Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens CEO Costa Constantinides announces its new Astoria home will be carbon neutral and will function as a renewable energy learning lab, (Courtesy of VBGCQ)

The VBGCQ Redevelopment Project will be a mixed-use building containing 229 affordable and supportive housing units and a newly constructed 123,0000-square-foot club space.

“I commend the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens for showcasing just how committed Queens is to leading by example in the fight for environmental justice by ensuring their redevelopment project is carbon neutral,” Richards said. “By operating as a renewable energy learning lab, they are also giving our future generations the education they need to beat climate change. On behalf of the Astoria community and the whole borough, we thank Costa and all our partners for leading in our efforts to build a better, more sustainable tomorrow.”

The club will use its redevelopment to build and expand upon its current community standing as a nexus for educating, promoting and cultivating sustainable practices. There will be interactive screens that’ll show energy and water usage, carbon footprint, solar power production and more.

“To protect our community and our country from the climate crisis, Queens needs to lead,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I’m proud to represent the Variety Boys & Girls Club, soon to be home to a new carbon-neutral facility, and commend their continued efforts to make our community stronger and healthier.”

The apartments will be designed utilizing Passive House principles that vastly improve building envelope performance and drastically reduce heating and cooling energy use. The project will install a 125+ KW rooftop solar photovoltaic system that will offset over 10% of the annual residential electrical demand.

“This project will serve as a pillar for the children and families of these communities and shape tomorrow’s future,” Mega Development said in a statement. “We at Mega strive to be at the forefront of energy-efficient development and construction and in collaboration with our design partners have the goal of achieving a carbon neutral-ready design and certify to USGBC’s LEED Gold rating for the Boys & Girls Club space.”

The central courtyard will comprise a vegetable garden for use by both the club and residential tenants, and will include bioretention planter boxes that will retain stormwater on site. MERV 13 and UV filters will be used in select high-traffic locations in both the club and residential program to maintain improved air quality in the post-COVID landscape.

“The communities with the poorest health and mental health outcomes are disproportionately impacted by pollution and other environmental factors,” said Jody Rudin, president and CEO of the Institute for Community Living. “An important part of ICL’s whole health approach is ensuring that the people we serve are living in a healthy physical environment. We are proud to partner with the Variety Boys & Girls Club and Mega Contracting Group to create a model for providing supportive and affordable housing in an energy-efficient, sustainable building that will be good for both the environment and the residents who will call it home.”