By Sara Rene
Published July 2012
On Thursday, June 14, ceremonies marking the completion of a $3.4 million ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) weatherization and economic stimulus project took place at the landmark Westbeth Center for the Arts.
Barbara Lowry, the Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC), the project’s sponsor, was joined by Steve Neil, the Westbeth Executive Director, in a ribbon-cutting and celebration to mark the occasion. The project, which began in January 2011, used Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funds administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) to replace Westbeth’s 40-year-old heating system with state-of-the-art boilers and thermostatic controls, install energy efficient lighting and new Energy Star© refrigerators in residential apartments, air seal, install roof insulation, and clean and upgrade the residential ventilation system.
The project allows Westbeth, which provides live-work spaces for 384 artists of all disciplines, to move from burning No. 6 heating oil to cleaner No. 2 and natural gas years before the city’s recent mandate required it to do so, and is expected to help Westbeth save up to 30% of its heating costs.
Ms. Lowry and Mr. Neil both gratefully acknowledged HCR and the United States Department of Energy for funding the project. HCR’s Weatherization Assistance Program contributed $2.9 million toward the project.
Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal said, “Westbeth is a wonderful example of the public-private partnerships that have thrived under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership. Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation and other sub-grantees around New York State do high-quality work that addresses residents’ concerns about spiraling energy costs and at the same time helps create jobs for New Yorkers. Because of this work,Westbeth will operate more cleanly and efficiently – reducing the building’s heating costs and helping to keep this unique development affordable for residents.”
Westbeth comprises an entire city block of buildings once used by Bell Laboratories. It was founded in 1967 to provide affordable housing, live-work spaces and studios to artists from all disciplines and to create a vibrant, creative center for the arts. It is home to several famous performing arts organizations, a community art gallery, was recently designated a New York City landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ms. Lowry spoke about how NMIC’s weatherization program has made the agency a leader in community-based sustainability. “Since its first weatherization contract 1981, NMIC has received more than $35 million in weatherization funds, which have helped to improve more than 15,000 low-income apartments. Our efforts in Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill, Harlem, the Lower East Side, and now here in the West Village, have helped to expanded the City’s economy, reduced energy costs, and encouraged environmentally-conscious collaborations between tenants, landlords and building owners,” she said.
Also present for the occasion were representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Citizens Energy Corp., New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Association for Energy Affordability and Phipps Houses Services Inc., the managing agent for Westbeth.
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