It's been a tough and slow sell in the U.S. Congress, but in Brooklyn, implementing sustainable practices and fostering green jobs has remained a top priority.
Yesterday, the Brooklyn Community Foundation continued its commitment toward broad environmental improvement when it launched Brooklyn Greens, a three-year, $750,000 project that will serve as a "green roadmap" and action plan for how a neighborhood or community can build sustainable green development into its overall strategy for job creation, improved health and community growth.
Bedford-Stuyvesant was a key community in the program, along with Cypress Hills and Williamsburg. The initiative was unveiled at a "Cool Roofs" painting even in Williamsburg in collaboration with the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the Pratt Center for Community Development, El Puente, and Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.
“Restoration has long been dedicated to helping low-income residents save money on their utility bills," said Colvin Grannum, president of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
"But the tremendous support from Brooklyn Community Foundation through Brooklyn Greens has enabled the organization to take a more holistic and comprehensive approach, from job training to greening efforts, in order to establish Bedford Stuyvesant as a green and healthy community."
Brooklyn has the highest number of public housing units of all five boroughs, with the lowest percentage of land devoted to parks. In addition, Bedford Stuyvesant, Cypress Hills and Williamsburg have the borough's highest rates of children's emergency room visits for asthma.
“The world looks to Brooklyn to set trends, and there’s no trend more worthy of becoming tradition than the push to make our communities greener and healthier, and to lessen our impact on the environment,” said Marilyn Gelber, president of the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
Through the NYC CoolRoofs program, residents and volunteers across the three neighborhoods are painting the roofs of their buildings white. This simple step reduces roof temperature by up 80 degrees Fahrenheit, lowering the interior temperature by up to 30 percent and saving up to 40 percent on electric bills.
In addition to developing a long-term action plan, Brooklyn Greens will:
*Produce 480 energy efficient retrofitted homes, apartment buildings, facilities and small businesses;
*Construct 130 units of new green residential housing;
*Train 140 community residents in green collar jobs, with a minimum 50% placement rate; and
*Plant 750 street trees and create or improve 12 neighborhood green spaces.
“By promoting collective action and shared resources through this initiative, we ensure that the successful efforts of these three communities will benefit the entirety of Brooklyn, to make it a model of urban environmental improvement in years to come,” said Gelber.