Following a successful pilot run in Far Rockaway Queens, party hardy environmental organization Global Green USA is moving forward with its “catalytic” Solar For Sandy scheme in which a handful of low-income resident-serving community facilities located in storm-battered neighborhoods throughout New York and New Jersey will be outfitted with grid-tied, back-up solar systems. Solar for Sandy is just piece of a trio of Superstorm Sandy rebuilding initiatives outlined by Global Green honcho Matt Petersen back in December.
The answer to the million-dollar question — where exactly will the first full-scale Solar for Sandy installation take place? — was made public last week in Chicago at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative America meeting when Petersen was joined onstage by Bill Clinton to make the big reveal: Global Green’s first big Solar for Sandy install project will kick off this fall at a yet-to-be-announced site in the low-lying Red Hook section of Brooklyn.
Red Hook is an intriguing choice. Although not the most devastated — at least compared to certain neighborhoods in Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey — the scrappy waterfront community of Red Hook, my own home for the past six years, was certainly one of the most visible-in-the-media areas affected by Sandy’s catastrophic floodwaters. This was due largely to in part to the grassroots relief and recovery efforts that swept the stunned neighborhood when both city and federal resources proved slow to respond or were completely absent. Also, heroic stories of chicken rescue didn’t hurt.
It’s also a choice that make total sense considering that Red Hook’s most famous resident, a certain monkey-friendly retailer of Swedish meatballs and MDF coffee tables, is famous for flexing considerable muscle in both the philanthropic and photovoltaic departments. Yep, IKEA is partnering with Global Green for the inaugural Solar Sandy install in Red Hook and will serve as the project’s lead funder.
Explains IKEA US president Mike Ward in a press release detailing the project:
When we learned of Global Green’s Solar for Sandy project in Red Hook, we saw it as a natural fit for IKEA support. Our commitment to renewable energy has already resulted in solar array installations on 39 IKEA US locations. And since we have a store in the Red Hook, Brooklyn area, we saw first-hand the hardships that our neighbors had to endure after Hurricane Sandy. The Red Hook solar installation will provide renewable energy on an everyday basis, as well as provide essential energy needs during any future disasters.
As mentioned, an exact Red Hook installation location has not yet been established as Global Green works alongside the Parsons the New School for Design to identify a partner site (students will contribute design proposals for the facility and its educational components.) Despite this, the overall aim of Solar Sandy is loud and clear: to "help mitigate future power blackouts and provide expanded emergency services to the location selected. The new system will not only enable lighting, mobile phone charging, and other basic services, but will also be designed to provide critical services such as refrigeration for medicine and basic heating or cooling. Furthermore, the solar system will produce energy every day, and lower energy bills, allowing savings to go to critical services for the local neighborhood.”
Global Green’s ‘Solar for Sandy’ initiative will serve as a catalytic model for the resilient, and green rebuilding of low-lying, coastal neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Through smarter, more sustainable energy systems, we can improve vulnerable infrastructure and reduce ongoing energy costs, as well as demonstrate how we create green jobs as we respond to the realities of sea level rise and climate change.
The project is due for completion on the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Oct. 29, 2013.