In this week's Newsletter: Solar Uptown Now, what the Insect Apocalypse means for humans, how to "green" your Christmas tree and much more!
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Solar Uptown Now Brings Solar Power & Green Jobs to Upper Manhattan


Back in 2016, WE ACT, the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board and Solar One's Here Comes Solar program teamed up to  create the Solar Uptown Now initiative as a way to expand access to solar electricity to some of the communities where they are most needed- environmental justice areas where air quality and asthma rates are higher, and city amenities like bike share programs and produce markets are in short supply.

Now we couldn't be more excited to announce that the Solar Uptown Now program will be installing solar arrays on 11 Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) co-op buildings in Harlem and Washington Heights. The solar panels are expected to offset more than 4,000 tons of greenhouse emissions, save building residents more than $1.7 million in energy costs and generate power for more than 900 residents throughout their 25-year lifespan, Cecil Corbin-Mark of WE ACT for Environmental Justice said Wednesday.

And not only will these buildings be getting solar power, these installations will be done by community residents trained by WE ACT, creating job opportunities for people of color who have often been left put of these job opportunities. 

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said that the Solar Uptown Now initiative is "beyond special" and proof that communities "don't have to be rich to have solar panels."

You can read more about this at the Harlem Patch website here.

The Netherlands Takes Steps to Save the Bees

Colony collapse disorder has been well-documented in the US, where bee populations have fallen 23% since 2008. And while there still isn't a full scientific consensus on why bee die-offs are happening, the Netherlands isn't waiting to find out. They've started a program to support bees by providing native host plants and "insect hotels" to help bees survive over the winter.

While most people are most familiar with the habits and lifestyle of European honeybees, there are more than 20,000 identified bee species and many of them do not store honey or winter in large hives. Instead, they set up winter homes in hollow stems, holes in logs or sticks and other enclosed places where they can shelter and hibernate until spring.

You may have noticed small bundles of hollow sticks hanging from the trees in Stuyvesant Cove Park- our very own bee condos! Want to help build some (its a great project for kids!)? Contact Park manager Emily Curtis-Murphy at murphy@solar1.org.

You can read more about bee strategies in Amsterdam on the Mental Floss website here.


 

How "Green" Is Your Christmas Tree?

Christianity is the world's largest religion, with over 2 billion adherents worldwide. So as we enter the Christmas season, many many families will be decorating for the holidays, and the vast majority of those holiday decorations will include a Christmas tree,

But for the eco-conscious celebrant, Christmas trees can be nerve-wracking. Like so many other consumer choices, parsing out what is the most environmental choice can be tricky and also counterintuitive. So here are some things to consider when you're buying a tree:

1. Cut tree: The most traditional choice may be more eco-friendly than you think. Christmas trees are farmed in much the same way as any other crop, and can grow to maturity in about 6 years, so there are no old growth or forest trees in those lots you see on every corner during December. Most tree farmers plant at least one new tree for every one they cut down, and trees can be mulched for free by the Parks Dept when the holiday is done (you do have to bring your tree to be mulched- Parks doesn't do curbside tree pickups). Your tree will be even greener if you buy it from a local farmer who hasn't had to travel very far- his trees will have a smaller carbon footprint than one from, say, North Carolina or Washington State.

2. Cardboard tree: Most artificial trees are made of plastic in China, so they are made primarily with fossil fuels, are shipped thousands of miles and are ultimately destined for the landfill. They may also be contaminated with lead. If you keep and use one for many years, it could be considered somewhat sustainable...but you'd really be better off getting a cardboard tree. While not nearly as traditional looking, these trees are lightweight, easy to store, can be used for years and can be disposed of with the regular paper recycling.

3. Live tree: Live trees can be purchased and even rented for the holidays, and then planted or returned to a nursery after Christmas. This can be tricky with a large tree, though, since the roots;ll;s are intact and make the tree heavier and messier than a cut tree. Also, most of the trees that are popular Christmas trees will hate being inside where temperatures are much too warm for them; it's recommended to acclimate the tree by moving it to a garage or other semi-indoor space for a few days before bring it inside. And of course you have to have space to plant it afterwards! However there are also some tropical species of evergreens that could, at least in theory, make decent houseplants as well as Christmas trees. Check out the Norfolk Island pine or the Maritime pine!

You can read more about how to "green" your Christmas tree on the One Green Planet website here.
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Upcoming Events at Solar One

There are currently no public events scheduled at Solar 1. We'll see you in the Spring!

Upcoming Events

12/8
E-Waste Recycling with the Lower East Side Ecology Center: Park Slope
PS 321, Seventh Avenue bet 1st & 2nd Sts, Brooklyn, 10am-4pm, free

12/9
E-Waste Recyclingwith the Lower East Side Ecology Center: Upper West Side
Marlene Meyerson JCC, 334 Amsterdam Avenue bet W. 75th & W. 76th Sts, Manhattan, 10am-4pm, free

12/10
East Side Coastal Resiliency Project: Community Engagement Meeting
Gouverneur Health Auditorium, 227 Madison Street bet Clinton & Jefferson Sts, Manhattan, 7-8:30pm, free

12/11
East Side Coastal Resiliency Project: Community Engagement Meeting
Hunter-Brookdale Rotunda, 425 East 25th Street bet 1st Ave & FDR Dr, Manhattan, 6:30-8pm, free
The material covered at this meeting will be the same as on December 10.

Planting the Seeds for a Sustainable Future: New York Botanical Garden’s Long-Term Efficiency Plan
Building Energy Exchange, 31 Chambers Street, Suite 609, bet Elk & Centre Sts, Manhattan, 9-10:30am, $15 general admission/$10 students and BEE members

Green Seeds Networking Event #1
Building Energy Exchange, 31 Chambers Street, Suite 609, bet Elk & Centre Sts, Manhattan, 6-8:30pm, free

12/13
Rebuild By Design, Hudson River Community Presentation
Multi-Service Center Community Room, 124 Grand Street bet 1st & 2nd Sts, Hoboken, 7-9pm, free
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