More than a year ago, I wrote: “To lay the foundation for a city whose future will be considerably more sustainable, green cannot be limited to luxury residential developments, nor Class A office buildings. The future must also embrace, encourage and fund sustainable initiatives in lower income areas of New York.”

I went on to say that The Bronx had shown considerable progress, buoyed by from both the public and private sectors.

Now, the city has announced two new programs in their “Solarize NYC” initiative focused on residents and businesses coming together to achieve community (lower) pricing from solar power companies. What is strategic about the program is that it addresses two of the city’s urban characteristics, one physical, one social. The first is the extreme density of our City’s buildings; and the second is that so many city residents are renters or otherwise do not have access to solar power.

What is brilliant about the “Solarize NYC” program is that you don’t need a roof to install solar – impossibly expensive for many buildings and out and out impossible for renters. The City estimates power cost reductions of 10-20%.

“By making solar more accessible and affordable, we are combating climate change and reducing the burden of air pollution,” the mayor said in statement.

The recently announced programs are in Harlem and Downtown Brooklyn and both, though similar, are also distinctly different in their goals that go beyond solarizing.

Brooklyn is, of course, becoming increasingly gentrified. But Downtown Brooklyn has long been the civic and commercial hub of the borough – courthouses, borough hall, federal buildings, colleges, the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower, Metro Tech Center and certainly not the least of them, Barclays Center – as well as the third largest business district in the city.

This “Emerging 2030 District” solarizing program encompasses Community Board 2 which includes the Tech Triangle, DUMBO, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and parts of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill, Atlantic Yards and BAM. According to the 2030 District’s website, the area was selected because of “…its diversity, a characteristic which facilitates the modeling of sustainability and resilience planning for the entire city in this compact area.”

Harlem, on the other hand, is part of the WEACT (for Environmental Justice) program focused on “building healthy communities for people of color and low-income residents in Northern Manhattan. “ It will provide the opportunity to bring clean and sustainable solar energy and its reduced costs into the homes of low to moderate income families.

It’s energizing (pun intended) to watch the impressive steady progress of the City in making New York a leader in sustainability. The goal for solar is to increase use to one gigawatt by 2030.

If solarizing interests you as a NYC resident, worker, property or business owner, you can spearhead having your neighborhood (no matter how you define it) participate in the Solarize NYC program. You can find the application at

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