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New Partnership Helps NYCHA
Seniors Afford Green Living


Residents of the New York City Housing Authority's (NYCHA's) senior-only New Lane Houses in Staten Island recently joined the fight against global warming thanks to a collaboration between the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the nonprofit organization RelightNY, HSBC Bank, and another nonprofit, Public Energy Solutions.

Compact Fluorescent Lamp installation.
RelightNY youth helps to swap out an incandescent bulb for a
Compact Fluorescent Lamp.
Photo credit: Kevin Devoe

All of the organizations joined together on the morning of October 23rd for the presentation of a $90,000 check from HSBC to RelightNY, which will be used to provide Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) to the residents of New Lane's 277 apartments. CFLs will help the seniors save electricity and reduce their electric bills, as well as reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment. Carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse gas," is largely believed to be a major contributor to global warming.

"HSBC has been supporting environmental issues for 30 years. Switching to Compact Fluorescent Lamps is one easy way we can all work together to slow the rate of global climate change," said HSBC's Executive Vice President Kevin Martin before presenting the check to RelightNY's founder Avery Hairston.

"We're delighted to receive this important contribution from HSBC," said the 15-year-old Mr. Hairston, who established the environmental educational organization one year ago. Mr. Hairston estimated that the donation would buy approximately 45,000 CFLs.

NYCHA Board Member Margarita "Kill-a-Watt" López, (as she was introduced by Mr. Hairston) was recently named Environmental Coordinator for the Housing Authority by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and as such will guide NYCHA in setting aggressive environmental goals. "This initiative clearly demonstrates the awareness that is building for the need to find partner-based solutions to our energy needs," Commissioner López observed.

New Lane senior resident.
Seniors at New Lane Houses are looking forward to the cost reductions that using energy efficient light bulbs will bring.
Photo credit: Kevin Devoe

The Commissioner then flicked the switch to a CFL she was holding to emphasize the theme of personal responsibility. "The key issue is that saving the environment is not the electric company's responsibility; it is not RelightNY's responsibility; it is not NYCHA's responsibility; it is your responsibility. Every time you flick a switch; let's make this planet safe for generations to come."

Public Energy Solutions President Keith S. Hartman also spoke briefly. "We've been partnering with NYCHA over the past six months and will be approaching 100,000 bulbs by the end of the year," he said, referring to a bulb replacement initiative the energy services company is assisting with in NYCHA's Brooklyn developments.

New Lane resident, Bea Jones, who has been living at the development for nine years said she was interested in the savings that switching to CFLs will bring because as she notes, "we pay our own electric bills here," whereas electricity is included with the rent for residents in many other NYCHA developments.

CFL installation began immediately after the press conference, and was performed by volunteer staff from Public Energy Solutions, along with NYCHA staff and the teenage boys who make up RelightNY, visited the homes of New Lane residents to assist them with installing their new energy efficient light bulbs.

By Eileen Elliott
October 26, 2007