Green from the inside out

By: Jae Watkins

Finally, the warm, sunny days feel as if they are here to stay and walking around the neighborhood the indescribable scent of “summer” is beginning to linger in the air. Last Thursday, I walked through the campus of City College and smiled to myself as I watched proud families hugging and taking pictures as they praised and celebrated graduates on my way to a free seminar presented by Solar One and GrowNYC called “Green Your Home from the Inside Out.” Once inside, there were about fifty concerned renters, home-owners, and community advocates gathered to share information on simple ways to “green” homes including tips and information on roof applications, energy efficiency, and recycling.

Energy efficiency was the common thread among all the discussions and the experts gave us many easy-to-do actions to improve the energy efficiency in our homes. In New York City, buildings use about 2/3 of the energy supply and that can be significantly reduced using small steps such as changing the roofs on buildings, swapping out inefficient appliances, and switching out inefficient incandescent lightbulbs for ENERGYSTAR compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). Installing a cool roof using a reflective elastomeric coating (which reflects solar rays and give off absorbed heat) is a relatively cheap and easy way to reduce the amount of energy absorbed by the roof which helps lower a building’s temperature and cuts energy costs. There is a citywide initiative to help people convert to cool roofs and you can get more information by visiting NYC Cool Roofs. Another incentive to make your home more energy-efficient is the statewide program, the NY Great Appliance Swap Out, to encourage people to update their appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, and clothes washers to more energy-efficient ENERGYSTAR appliances by providing rebates. However, the program will end on June 30th so it is important to act now!

Another great way to green your home is to recycle accepted item, everyday. Though most people want to recycle, it is often confusing to know exactly what to recycle. For instance, most people in the audience did not know that the only plastic items we recycle in NYC are plastic bottles and jugs. Recycling in New York City was thoroughly explained by Christina Salvi of GrowNYC (click here for the tips she presented) and she has been working hard in our community to get people to fully participate in the current recycling program. She offers many free services to residents and community groups in the neighborhood to explain recycling, set up a program in residential buildings, and is an overall “green” resource for the community. If you want some great tips on what to recycle in New York City or need help with the recycling in your Uptown home, please contact Christina Salvi of GrowNYC as she is more than happy to help you. FULL DISCLOSURE: Christina is a colleague, we have worked together for the past few years, and I think she is a fabulous “green” resource!

Overall, this was a very informative and educational event and I learned quite a bit and I wanted to pass it along to the UptownFlavor community! I’m planning to go to LOTS of events this summer and enjoy all that UPTOWN has to offer. Since I know that many people are still anxious about this recession and spending their money on leisurely activities, I’ll give information on events that are either free or less than $20 to attend and post the info about these events here. I’m heading over to the Jazz Museum in Harlem for the next free event on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 for Jazz for Curious Listeners Tuning in to Tremé: Deeper Than the Water from 7p-8:30p. Of course, I’ll be writing a post on the event, however, I’d love it if you would meet me there and we can discuss it together!