Red Hook is turning green

The Brooklyn Paper
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Two eco-friendly additions are coming to a neighborhood long known for car-burning arsonists and smog.

This fall, real-estate developer Greg O’Connell will convert old water towers into energy-generating windmills. The windmills, which will churn on Van Dyke Street between Conover and Ferris streets, will create enough power to light up the public pier next to Fairway.

O’Connell said the windmill should be complete by spring.

“The towers are beautiful structures from an industrial past and the location is perfect for a windmill,” said O’Connell. “Green energy is a good match for Red Hook.”

Just a few blocks from the waterfront on a gritty corner of Dwight and Coffey Streets, factory owner Mike DiMarino has come to the same conclusion as O’Connell. This year, he will replace the tar and gravel top on his two-story Linda Tool and Dye metal fabrication factory with a lushly planted “green roof.”

A green roof is a contained layer of foliage put on top of building that insulates the structure and absorb rainwater that would otherwise run into sewers (which, in Brooklyn, are prone to overflowing).

DiMarino’s new roof was funded by a $250,000 grant from Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Red Hook).

“We hope that the city will look to the data that is collected and see the viability of these roofs,” said Chris Shepard of Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, the non-profit that will administer the grant.

The green roof is projected to cost $14 a square-foot, significantly more than a conventional tar beach. But DiMarino believes the payback will come from reduced heating and cooling bills — and of course, less water heading towards the sewers that overflow on rainy days. He estimates the roof will absorb 500,000 gallons per year.

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