The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) kicks off its second annual Speaking Green Lecture Series tonight with an increased effort toward involving residents more in the “greening” of NYCHA. A panel of guest speakers, including NYCHA Board Member Commissioner Margarita López; Environmental Defense Fund Campaign Director Mary Barber; and YRG Sustainability Principal Lauren Yarmuth, will discuss practical ways residents can help to preserve public housing through low-carbon living at 6:30pm in Chelsea at the Hudson Guild (441 West 26th Street). Speaking Green also will unveil a handy reference, or Green Guide, for residents to learn easy tips to save energy and help protect the environment NYCHA is calling the “The Power is in Your Hands.”
“Since NYCHA’s energy consumption is resident-driven, any long-term strategic plan must also include its residents as active partners,” said Commissioner López. “This educational Green Guide, “The Power is in Your Hands,” contains green tips to help residents to live in a responsible and powerful way, while helping NYCHA reduce its deficit and restore harmony with the environment.”
Commissioner López was named the Authority’s first Environmental Coordinator by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2007. In her added role, Commissioner López has led a mobilization effort within NYCHA to emphasize environmental awareness in the developments as part of the Authority’s resident engagement strategy, including organizing volunteer-based, resident Green Committees. In less than a year, with the help of eight Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) provided by NYC Service, NYCHA has created 32 Green Committees currently serving in 10 percent of its developments. NYCHA has also developed and implemented a Green Agenda to reduce the Authority’s carbon footprint, lower energy and utility consumption, conserve resources, and engage residents in adopting low-carbon lifestyles.
The user friendly Green Guide was developed in response to the Green Committees’ interest in learning more about adopting eco-friendly lifestyles. It offers 40 “green tips” as well as a tool to help residents calculate their personal “green score.” In providing residents information on saving energy and the environment, the Guide also includes tips on the most effective ways of maintaining indoor temperatures, ultimately saving NYCHA millions of dollars each year. In 2009, the Authority spent more than $530 million for utilities; most public housing residents do not pay their own utility costs.
“One degree of wasted energy across NYCHA costs $7.6 million, and such waste may threaten the future of public housing and have other long-term consequences,” said Commissioner Lopez. “The biggest problem in global changes that we are experiencing is human behavior, and we are doing our part in changing the NYCHA community.”
The Green Guide was developed through the efforts of desigNYC, a group of designers and design advocates that aim to improve life in New York City by connecting nonprofits and community groups in need of design services with professional, pro bono design resources. One member of desigNYC, The Rooster Group (theroostergroup.com), generously offered its creative services to develop and design the Green Guide. Copies of the Guide, which are distributed at the Speaking Green Lecture events, will also be given to each member of NYCHA’s Green Committees.