FLICK THE SWITCH Residents are critical to NYCHA's green initiative, said Board Member López. "You need to switch it off."

The country's largest public housing development, Queensbridge Houses, is going green! On a surprisingly chilly April 21st-the day before Earth Day-the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), joined the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), Citi (formerly Citibank), and the energy-solution company Ameresco, to begin installing 9,600 Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) in 1,600 apartments at Queensbridge South. It is estimated that once all standard bulbs in the development's 3,142 apartments are replaced with CFLs, electricity costs for Queensbridge alone will drop by over 17%, saving the Housing Authority $367,000 annually, and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 1,400 tons a year! That's the equivalent of taking 600 cars off the road.

   Residents of all ages gathered in the interior courtyard of the Jacob Riis Senior Center at the Long Island City development to hear the morning's speakers. Those speakers addressed the crowd from a stage covered with AstroTurf, beneath a 35-foot-long cast stone relief, entitled "Community Life." The relief was created by an Italian immigrant, Cesare Stea, in the 1940s under the Works Progress Administration Program.

   "Since Queensbridge is the largest development, utility costs are enormous," said Queens Borough Director Carolyn Jasper, who served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event. "NYCHA must find new ways of conserving energy. CFLs are the stepping stone for more energy-efficient projects."

   Congress Member Carolyn Maloney reaffirmed her support for public housing and green initiatives, focusing on current legislation to require that all cars get 35 miles to the gallon by the year 2020.

   Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott brought greetings from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "On behalf of the Mayor, I am here to compliment NYCHA for its green initiatives," the Deputy Mayor said.

   Queensbridge is the second NYCHA development to benefit from a collaboration between NYCHA and ReLightNY, a youth-run nonprofit organization that seeks to educate and inspire people to live in environmentally friendly ways by raising money to replace traditional light bulbs with CFLs.

   Citi's Community Relations Director Eileen Auld noted that Citi was proud to donate $20,000 to RelightNY for the bulbs, and has its own ten-year, $50 billion commitment to reverse climate change.

   "Ameresco is very excited about this collaboration, not only to preserve the environment but to preserve public housing and create jobs," said Ameresco Executive Vice-President David Anderson. Ameresco, one of the nation's leading energy-saving companies, is donating the labor and also hired six Queensbridge residents for the "green collar" jobs.

   "The most important partner of all is each of you and your families, who will lead by example," said Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) New York Representative Kathy Baczko. The CCI is providing the Housing Authority with technical support for green initiatives and is now working in over 40 cities around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

   That message was amplified by the final speaker of the morning, Board Member Margarita López, who was appointed by Chairman Tino Hernandez and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last year to be NYCHA's Green Coordinator. "Residents are critical to helping the Mayor fulfill his dream of installing CFLs in every NYCHA development. The CFLs will contribute to energy savings but you must 'switch it off,'" she said, flicking the switch on a portable panel of light bulbs, to emphasize the importance of turning off lights when not in use. "It's that easy."

   "This is an excellent opportunity, an excellent idea," said Patricia Goodson, a 23-year resident of Queensbridge, who was hired to install the bulbs. "People are really excited about this," Ms. Goodson added, while checking her cell phone. "They keep calling and asking, 'When are you coming to my building?'"