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‘Building Power’ Brings Energy Savings to Bronx Churches, Jobs to Residents

Photos courtesy of Commonwise EducationIn partnership with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and BlocPower, Emerald Cities New York and its local host, the Bronx Community Development Initiative (BCDI), are making great strides with the Building Power program that is bringing energy and money savings to New York City faith institutions. BlocPower is a Brooklyn-based clean tech startup that markets and finances installation of solar and energy efficiency upgrades in small businesses, nonprofits and light commercial properties in America’s inner cities.

Building Power helps faith institutions lower their monthly energy bills by providing affordable financing for energy efficiency retrofits and installation of solar panels. The program also harnesses participants’ buying power to lock in low, fixed-rate electricity and gas prices.

Importantly, the program supports the environment and local economy by lowering carbon emission emissions and creating jobs for local residents and contracting opportunities for local firms.

Since September 2015, Bronx MInister Danny Diaz has been the lead faith organizer for the program, introducing over 100 clergy from the Bronx and Upper Manhattan to Building Power. So far, more than 40 churches have completed energy audits of their buildings. The audits are provided free of charge with funds from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the state’s energy office that has long promoted energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.

A New Milestone

Just last month, the program reached a new milestone with its first groundbreaking at Fordham United Methodist Church (UMC) in the Bronx. The church will replace its boiler – a costly upgrade that the church could not have afforded without a low-interest, no-down-payment loan through Building Power. All loans obtained through the program will be repaid from future energy savings.

Photo courtesy of Commonwise Education

Moreover, Fordham UMC has contracted with a Bronx-based, minority-owned contractor for the installation, creating jobs and wealth in its community while lowering the congregation’s energy bills and being good stewards of the Earth.

“This initiative has been tailored for faith institutions that normally don't have the upfront money to retrofit,” Diaz said. “As I'm able to unpack the different layers of Building Power to the clergy, I can see how this program can respond to the different needs – and in some cases even to the pain – many of our people experience in our communities. My experience has been that the moral imperative inherent in this initiative always resonates deeply within the hearts of those who take time to hear.”

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