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Daily Plant Masthead

Volume XXVIII, Number 5828
Monday, Apr 01, 2013

Sustainable Parks Corner

Energy Liaison Bill Vilkelis talks to recreation center staff about the basics of reading a electricity meter for the energy contest
Energy Liaison Bill Vilkelis talks to recreation center staff about the basics of reading a electricity meter for the energy contest

Energy Contest Kicks Off With Chance to Win Cash Prizes

Today kicks off a nine-week competition between 34 recreation and eight nature centers to engage agency staff and center members around energy awareness and sustainability. Centers earn points by implementing actions tied to energy efficiency and by taking daily readings of the center electricity meter. The top nine recreation centers and top borough nature center with the most points at the end of the program will win $2,000 for their respective building. The contest is organized by the Sustainability Initiatives, Public Programs, and the Energy Management Divisions at Parks with support from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).

DCAS is funding the contest since Parks is one of the top seven energy-consuming agencies in New York City. Energy Manager Matt Brown believes the contest will be a great forum for Parkies to expand communication and take steps to help reduce the agency's energy footprint. “The energy contest is a platform to get all of the necessary parties talking about energy efficiency, uncover the barriers, and discuss solutions,” said Brown. “I'm excited to meet more Parks employees, learn about their facilities, listen to their ideas, and help them get their buildings operating efficiently.”

Helping lead the charge toward energy savings are over 40 recreation and nature center Green Gurus, who will be acting as point-people for contest logistics and facilitation. Two weeks ago, this group of center staff from all five boroughs gathered at Chelsea Recreation Center for a hands-on training covering recycling, meter reading, and low-cost energy retrofits. The meter training is crucial to the program because Parks receives its energy bills with a two-month delay, which makes it difficult to look at retrofit impacts and behavior adjustments. “Green Queen” Roberta Maureau, veteran Green Guru from Queens Recreation, is excited about the contest and believes it will leave a lasting impression. “I have learned so much from being on the Green Guru team about recycling and reducing energy that I know the center staff will pass the info on to the members and afterschool kids with great success,” she said.

Meter reading is just one of a host of actions centers can do to earn points. These actions fall into one of three categories: conducting energy and sustainability outreach and education, operating and maintaining center sustainability programs, and identifying and planning for energy retrofits. Whether center staff are cleaning filters in A/C equipment, labeling recycle bins, installing pipe insulation, placing “Turn it Off” stickers on light switches and other electronic equipment, or identifying opportunities to install light occupancy sensors, these tasks are low-cost with high rewards for Parks and the environment.

“Parks employees have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to sustainability,” said David Barker, Director of Sustainability Initiatives. “The contest provides a forum for sharing best practices and recognizing staff for their enthusiasm and leadership.”

To learn more about the contest, please email

Written by Mike Mullaley, Sustainability Initiatives Intern

Green Tip of the Week: Burn Calories, Not Energy During Your Next Gym Visit

Next time you go to one of Parks' 34 Recreation Centers, or your own gym, keep these tips in mind to make sure you are limiting waste and saving energy.

Workout with a reusable water bottle: Save money and resources by bringing your own water bottle. Avoid using the plastic cups by the water cooler too. If you do have to purchase a plastic bottle, make sure to recycle it in the proper bin.

Water Etiquette: Whether you are washing off from a pool workout or using the restroom, make sure to use water wisely. Take shorter showers and don't keep the faucet running. Use the hand dryer whenever possible and take only as many paper towels as you need.

Stair Machine: If your gym has an elevator, save energy and warm-up your legs with a pre-gym workout by taking the stairs. Conserve energy even more by letting staff know if an empty room is lit.


“You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”

Joe DiMaggio
(1914 - 1999)
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