Secondary Navigation

Mayor de Blasio Announces Major Solar Investment at City Schools, Key Component of New Green Buildings Plan

September 29, 2014

Video available at:

New installations, funded by City and NY-Sun Initiative, are first step toward 100 MW of new solar on City-owned buildings and long-term goal of 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

NEW YORK—Today, Mayor de Blasio announced a major investment in solar power at City schools, funding 24 installations as part of the administration’s new green buildings plan (One City, Built to Last), tripling the amount of solar currently planned on City-owned buildings, and marking another step forward as the City works to dramatically reduce its contributions to climate change.

The 24 new installations will be funded by the City, as well as by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative. The $28 million investment includes $23 million in City funds and an estimated $5 million in grants from NYSERDA. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the New York Power Authority will implement the projects, in partnership with the Department of Education (DOE). The planned 6.25 MW of solar power at these 24 installations will result in a reduction of more than 2,800 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the equivalent of taking over 600 cars off the road every year. The solar installations will be paired with an environmental curriculum plan, including dashboards and web portals where students can track in real time what the systems are generating and the amount of emissions that have been offset, and undertake related analyses of the systems’ impacts.

The Mayor made the announcement outside the John F. Kennedy Educational Campus, which is home to a rooftop solar installation that will serve as an innovative and cost-effective model for installing solar.

The new solar projects are part of a larger commitment announced at the start of Climate Week. Last week, Mayor de Blasio announced that New York City is committed to an 80 percent reduction in its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over 2005 levels by 2050, charting a long-term path for investment in renewable sources of energy and a total transition from fossil fuels. This commitment starts with the sweeping green buildings plan announced last week.

One City, Built to Last focuses on dramatically reducing emissions from buildings, which account for nearly three-quarters of the City’s GHG emissions. The Mayor has committed to retrofitting every single City-owned building with significant energy use by 2025, including installing 100 MW of solar power. 

Additionally, the City will spur private building to invest in efficiency upgrades, including by providing ambitious interim targets and incentives and implementing mandates if targets are not met. In particular, the City plans to catalyze an additional 250 MW of solar power on private buildings.

Last week’s announcement can be read in full here:

“These 24 new solar installations at our schools mark a significant step forward, tripling the amount of solar currently on City buildings—but they’re also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how we’ll dramatically reduce our contributions to climate change,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In the next 10 years, we’ll retrofit every single public building with significant energy use, and catalyze the private sector to begin to do the same, charting a path toward an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 and a total transition from fossil fuels. Our very future is at stake, and New York must continue to lead the way.”

“The rooftop solar installation that we stand in front of today is really a down payment on the ambitious public and private building energy retrofit initiative that the Mayor unveiled last week. Projects like this will be replicated many times over as the plan moves forward,” said Bill Goldstein, Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Recovery, Resiliency, and Infrastructure.

“The City’s comprehensive response to the risks of climate change includes both sustainability and resiliency actions,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “Today’s announcement expands rooftop solar power on City school buildings and is a critical step along a long-term path away from fossil fuels in order to avoid the most destructive impacts from climate change.”

“These schools will serve as laboratories for learning as students develop habits for protecting our natural resources, and then carry these lessons forward. Teaching children to be environmental stewards is crucial as they have a critical role in making sure that New York is sustainable for centuries to come. Our New York City schools are showcases for being good everyday citizens, and this is what we need our children to be—good everyday citizens now and in the future,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

“DCAS is proud to lead the implementation of the Mayor’s plan to ensure that all of the City’s public buildings are models for sustainability,” said Stacey Cumberbatch, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “These new solar installations at New York City schools will save over $1.7 million in annual electricity costs.”

“Merely a week after this administration unveiled its innovative One City, Built to Last initiative, this solar installation project proves a significant first step in establishing the Mayor’s commitment towards achieving an 80 percent emissions reduction by 2050,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler. “Solar panels can be a cost-effective solution for reducing emissions, lowering utility bills and reducing strain on the City’s electrical grid. The Department of Buildings is dedicated to working closely with businesses and homeowners that want to increase their building’s energy efficiency with the installation of solar panels.”  

“This vital investment will serve future students and beyond by continuing to grow and expand the next generation of our school’s infrastructure and sustainability. Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious plan will create a truly sustainable City, one that protects the future of our children. The School Construction Authority is excited to be a part of making this a reality,” said Lorraine Grillo, President of the School Construction Authority.

“The 80 by 50 goal is bold, achievable, and smart,” notes Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and senior UN advisor on global energy. “The Mayor’s plan will keep New York City highly competitive as the world transitions to a low-carbon future. NYC’s low-carbon strategies will flourish not only at home but will promote high-tech exports to cities around the world.”

“Eighty percent by 2050—here we come!” said Andy Darrell, Chief of Strategy for U.S. Climate and Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. “Solar for schools is exactly the kind of investment we need today to turn the corner on climate change tomorrow. The price of solar has fallen dramatically—what a great way to deliver clean, affordable and resilient energy for our kids.”

“The Mayor’s plan provides a bold, decisive blueprint for climate action that will bring so many benefits to our communities, including reduced energy costs, more affordable homes, healthier air, and much-needed jobs,” said Raya Salter, Senior Utility Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The initiative announced today to put solar on our city’s schools will not only help to ensure a much more sustainable future for New York City’s children, but will also provide an amazing real-world educational opportunity for our students. Mayor de Blasio’s leadership on the critical issue of climate change sets a strong example that we hope other cities will follow.”

“We know that solar projects at schools get students hooked on science and math. Equally important, they show our students—in clear, concrete ways—that they can create a cleaner city and world. Solar energy projects are a win-win, for our students and for New York City,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

“These 24 cost-saving solar installations are a win for our grid infrastructure, a win for our schools, and a win for the environment,” said Steven Spinola, President of The Real Estate Board of New York. “We want to thank Mayor de Blasio and NYSERDA for their commitment to sustainability. In a city with increasing energy demands and limited supply sources—devoting investment and leveraging public resources for renewable energy are among the smartest steps towards energy efficiency New York can make.”

"We commend Mayor de Blasio and his Administration on their bold new goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in New York City by 80% by 2050," said Bill Rudin, Vice-Chairman & CEO of Rudin Management Company and Chairman of the Association for a Better New York. "Focusing on city owned properties, the Mayor is leading by example and we hope all New Yorkers do their part to help our city achieve this important goal."

“The business community shares the Mayor’s commitment to alternative energy as a major component of public and private sector efforts to reduce New York’s carbon footprint,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City.

“We must make every effort to produce renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gases. The best way to wean ourselves off of foreign oil and fossil fuels is to create a partnership between the private and public sector, and to develop green programs that will supply our future energy needs. I commend Mayor de Blasio for taking bold steps to transform 24 public schools into green energy buildings, while educating our children about the need to protect our environment,” said Congressman Eliot Engel, the senior New York member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Today’s announcement is welcoming news in our District, where we have seen asthma rates exceed the national average. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for making smart investments to address the growing dangers of climate change, which is a real threat to the health, environment and economy of our City, State and planet. I am proud that he recognizes JFK High School as a successful model for installing solar power in our schools, and look forward to fully supporting his endeavors to provide the best environment for our children's future,” said Congressman Charles Rangel.

“New York City can and will be the premiere leader in countering the effects of climate change by implementing the City’s ambitious green buildings plan. I commend Mayor de Blasio for this bold and powerful initiative and commit to working with the administration and New York’s public and private sectors to help implement it. Together, we can build a city that’s greener, cleaner, and more efficient than ever,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

“As a resident of the first municipal building to have a green roof—the Bronx County Building—I am thrilled to see this administration expand its commitment to energy efficiency to include even more municipal buildings and school buildings through greater installation of solar panels, such as those right here at the John F. Kennedy High School campus. A greener city is a healthier city, and Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to those goals is clearly strong. I look forward to continuing to work with his administration to further ‘green’ not just The Bronx, but the entire city,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr

“I support Mayor de Blasio’s effort to build a greener city—and help set an example for the non-governmental sector. Meeting the many challenges of reducing our carbon footprint to reduce climate change starts with us all,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

“It’s appropriate that New York City’s public schools will be the first set for installation of solar panels in Mayor de Blasio’s visionary plan to take on climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. After all, it is the children attending our schools who are our future, and we must protect the environment for them. I applaud Mayor de Blasio’s quick action on this issue, which once again makes New York City a global leader in the fight against climate change,” said Senator Jeff Klein.

“Just over a week ago, Mayor de Blasio announced a serious, expansive commitment to ensure that New York City leads the way in the fight against climate pollution. I applaud the Mayor for following up with concrete action toward delivering on that commitment, by retrofitting our schools to make them more energy efficient. It is precisely this kind of transformative action that shows that the fight against climate change is not so much a burden as it is an opportunity, to do things better, cleaner, and cheaper and make our communities and our world more livable, equitable, and productive,” said Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Chair of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

“Reducing climate change is one of the most important battles of our time. This initiative will have a real impact towards that goal, since the greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City are buildings. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for providing such strong leadership in this fight and look forward to working together with him on this and other environmental initiatives,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

“Improving air quality and reducing the childhood asthma rate is a top priority for Upper Manhattan and Bronx communities, and today’s announcement brings us closer to this goal,” said Senator Adriano Espaillat. “Developing New York’s solar and renewable energy portfolio will cut carbon emissions, reduce taxpayer costs, and jumpstart economic development throughout the city. I’m thrilled to support this initiative, and proud that Marble Hill’s own John F. Kennedy High School has pioneered this low-cost solar model.”

“Today marks the beginning of a new dawn for New York City as we fully transition to utilizing renewable sources of energy,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Following the de Blasio administration’s pledge to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions citywide by 2050, the conversion of municipal buildings affirms our commitment to shifting from a carbon-based economy to one that will sustain life for subsequent generations.”

“Today marks another step forward towards a more sustainable New York. Our city has become a leader in sustainable energy providing our nation with a model of how municipalities can address our changing climate. I commend the Mayor for his innovative initiative and look forward to its implementation starting here at JFK High School,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

"Today's announcement ?to invest in solar paneling reinforces our City's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint," said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. "As Chair of the Council's Housing and Buildings Committee, I am proud that our administration has made such a strong commitment to our city's sustainability ?through a sweeping green buildings plan.  ?Climate change can be combated, but will require aggressive efforts like this to ensure a sustainable future for all?."

Media Contact
(212) 788-2958