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10 Jun, 2021 | News

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Launch New Energy Sustainability Initiative, Laudato Si Corporation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 10, 2021

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Launch New Energy Sustainability Initiative, Laudato Si Corporation

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ Laudato Si Corporation, named after Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical: On Care for Common Home Addressing Climate Change Will Generate Renewable Energy and Income to Continue Future Affordable Housing Sustainability Initiatives 

Brooklyn, NY— The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, joined Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and community members today for a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the launch of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ Laudato Si Corporation, a new green initiative focused on climate change. The Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation will generate renewable energy by installing new solar photovoltaic systems on the roofs of four existing, and future, affordable housing developments in the housing portfolio of Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation (CCPOPD), the affordable housing developer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens is one of the largest faith-based social service agencies and providers of affordable housing in the United States and currently provides 4,330 units of affordable homes, with 240 additional units currently under construction.

In September 2018, The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, led a U.S. delegation of leaders to a meeting with Pope Francis. The group, which included Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Deputy CEO of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, and Tim McManus, Senior Vice President of the Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, presented Pope Francis with a plan of future sustainable projects in response to his 2015 Encyclical Laudato Si’ On Care for Our Common Home. This innovative approach will provide for renewable energy and create new resources that will allow future reinvestment in sustainability and environmentally friendly initiatives across the existing Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens affordable housing portfolioPope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, teaches us that combating climate change and protecting the environment are our responsibilities for the earth and humanity, and in response to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, empowering the universal Church and all people of good will to respond to the Pope’s encyclical.

“Pope Francis has said ‘God forgives all the time, people forgive some of the time, but nature never forgives’. We cannot destroy the nature that God has given to us. That is one of our responsibilities’,” said the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. “Catholic Charities’ commitment to affordable housing rests upon the Church’s teaching and reflects the dignity of the human person and the value of the family. And now the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ commitment to renewable energy reflects our commitment to the planet and our future.”

“It is with great excitement that Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens announces the launch of Laudato Si Corporation,” said Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. “The initiative not only responds to Pope Francis’ encyclical, but preserves affordable housing for low-income neighbors, reduces our carbon footprint, and our energy costs- all while leading the way in New York City. This in turn, will allow Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens to invest capital savings into resiliency options and direct services for future generations.

The initial buildings to be included in the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ Laudato Si Corporation are located in a variety of the most historically underserved New York City neighborhoods –beginning today at the Bishop Thomas V. Daily Residence at 683 Dean Street in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn with 60 supportive housing units, the other three projects include Our Lady of Fatima Senior Housing located at 78-01 30th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, with 93 senior units; Peter J. Striano Senior Residence/ Howard Beach Apartments at 155-55 Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, Queens with 96 senior units; and the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Residence at 800 Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn with 88 supportive housing units. The Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation will generate a sizable amount of renewable energy as a proactive response to address mounting climate change demands for a sustainable future.

Global 100 law firm Nixon Peabody and a team of lawyers from its Affordable Housing & Real Estate, Project Finance & Public Finance, and Corporate practices provided pro bono support in the development of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation. Bright Power, an energy and water management partner is designing and installing solar arrays on the existing properties with underutilized roof space. Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development will capture a natural, renewable energy source that can be used to bolster the region’s electrical grid with a sustainable energy source and reduce the reliance on nonrenewable resources.

The project will make use of an Inclusive Community Solar Agreement, which will sell the solar power generated from these four buildings to subscribers, such as local households that wish to purchase electricity from a local, renewable source. The funds generated through this program will be reinvested into future Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si sustainability initiatives. Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development households will further benefit from outreach and education associated with renewable energy purchase options, increased sustainability, and environmental justice awareness across all socioeconomic groups represented by Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development household populations. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation will make a tangible connection for Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development residents with the concept of sustainable living that starts in their own home, building, and community.

The initiative will help Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development accelerate its shift away from fossil fuel reliance and to contribute to distributed renewable energy infrastructure in New York City. The Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation also responds to the shifting regulatory landscape for sustainability and building codes in New York. New York State’s Climate Action Council is developing a scoping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensures that the benefits of clean energy investments benefit disadvantaged communities. In New York City, the 2020 update of the Enterprise Green Communities (EGC) sustainability criteria for affordable housing puts a focus on adopting a “Path to Zero” for energy efficiency and carbon emissions. New York City's 2020 EGC Overlay promotes these goals by aligning with the City's goals of carbon neutrality and climate resiliency to promote New Yorkers' health, safety, and prosperity, and now includes a Solar Feasibility Analysis.

Despite the abundance of local, state, and federal energy efficiency resources available in the greater New York City market, accessing and implementing sustainability retrofits remains a challenge for many non-profit affordable housing developers due to the inability to leverage additional debt to cover the “gap” in financing the proposed sustainable features. The goal of the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation is to create and tap into a new resource and ultimately develop a solar retrofit project of scale relative to the existing Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development affordable housing portfolio. The pilot program, including equipment purchase, is matched with funds from Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) energy incentives, and Enterprise Community Partners Section 4 program. Based on this initial project's projected success and optimization, the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation can be easily expanded with new solar, storage, and resiliency opportunities in the future.

“Congratulations to Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Bishop DiMarzio for their innovative thinking in moving new renewable energy into affordable housing to improve the quality of life of those most in need in the Diocese of Brooklyn,” said Robert B. Catell, Chairman of the Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center of Stonybrook University.

“Low-income populations are some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation will support families and individuals living in affordable-housing communities,” said Joe Lynch, partner in Nixon Peabody’s practice, who led the team that advised Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. “Congrats to Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development for launching Laudato Si Corporation. On behalf of Nixon Peabody’s team, we commend them for their continued leadership in affordable housing.”

“Bright Power applauds Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development for their forward-thinking, innovative, and impactful move to create the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation, bringing clean, renewable energy to more New Yorkers. We are thrilled to partner with them on this initiative after working together on other impactful projects such as Catherine Sheridan Residence and Our Lady of Loreto,” said Jamie Bemis, Account and Market Development Manager for Affordable Housing at Bright Power, “This commitment and model is one that other real estate owners and developers can and should replicate.”

 “Enterprise is proud to support Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Developments innovative new renewable energy initiative. Solar is critical to the future of keeping homes affordable as they transition to operating with cleaner energy,” said Lydia Tom, Senior Adviser, Initiatives, at Enterprise Community Partners. “Enterprise has long hailed the inextricable link between affordable housing, sustainability, and community wellness, and the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si Corporation is an excellent model for advancing all three, for the benefit of residents and our collective fight against climate change.”

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About Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Progress of Peoples (CCPOPD) Development Corporation

For 123 years, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has been providing quality social services to the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, and currently offers over 160 programs and services for children, youth, adults, older adults, and those struggling with mental illness. Since 1975, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, the affordable housing developer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, Inc. and has been transforming vacant land and buildings into affordable housing units and transforming the lives of individuals and families. In the past 46 years, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation has completed more than 4,330 units with supportive services for seniors, families and the formerly homeless. Family and senior housing buildings are a priority, and Catholic Charities remains committed to creating homes throughout Brooklyn and Queens.  For more information, please visit www.ccbq.org.

Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center of Stonybrook University

The Advanced Energy Center is located at Stony Brook University, and is a partnership of academic and research institutions, energy providers, industry and government.  Their mission is to increase the efficiency of current energy systems, while promoting the adoption of alternative and renewable sources to reduce New York’s carbon footprint. For more information, please visit www.aertc.org.

About Nixon Peabody

At Nixon Peabody, we see 21st century law as a tool to help shape our clients’ futures. We are constantly thinking about what is important to our clients now and next so we can foresee obstacles and opportunities in their space and smooth the way. We ensure they are equipped with winning legal strategies as they navigate the exciting and challenging times we live in. We work together to handle complex challenges in litigation, real estate, corporate law, intellectual property, and finance anywhere in the world.

About Bright Power

Bright Power provides strategic energy and water solutions to building owners and operators across the nation. Specializing in multifamily apartment buildings, Bright Power has worked with over 1,900,000 apartments that cover 1,900,000,000 square feet. Bright Power’s energy management solutions include EnergyScoreCards benchmarking software, energy audits, energy procurement, on-site generation, green building design services, turnkey installation of energy improvements and ongoing energy management. For more information, please visit www.brightpower.com.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony held by The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn and Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn marked the launch of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ Laudato Si Corporation, a new energy sustainability initiative.

Pictured from left to right: Jamie Bemis CEM, EIT, Account and Market Development Manager-Affordable Housing, Bright Power; Jeffrey Perlman, CEO, President and Founder, Bright Power; David Downs, Deputy Director, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation; Emmie Glynn Ryan, Esq., Chief of Staff and General Counsel, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens; Lydia Tom, Senior Advisor, Initiatives, Enterprise Community Partners; Joseph Giamboi, Chairman, Board of Director, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation; Robert B. Catell,

Chairman, Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center (AERTC) of Stonybrook University; Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Ph.D., D.D., Bishop of Brooklyn; Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens; Alexandra Hohauser, Associate, Nixon Peabody LLP; Timothy McManus, Senior Vice President, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation; and Christopher M. Rogers, Project Manager, NY-Sun, NYSERDA.

The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, joins community partners to celebrate the ribbon-cutting and launch of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ Laudato Si Corporation, a new energy sustainability initiative.

Pictured from left to right: Jamie Bemis CEM, EIT, Account and Market Development Manager-Affordable Housing, Bright Power; Jeffrey Perlman, CEO, President and Founder, Bright Power; David Downs, Deputy Director, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation; Emmie Glynn Ryan, Esq., Chief of Staff and General Counsel, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens; Lydia Tom, Senior Advisor, Initiatives, Enterprise Community Partners; Joseph Giamboi, Chairman, Board of Director, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation; Robert B. Catell

Chairman, Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center (AERTC) of Stonybrook University; Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Ph.D., D.D., Bishop of Brooklyn; Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens; Alexandra Hohauser, Associate, Nixon Peabody LLP; Timothy McManus, Senior Vice President, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation; and Christopher M. Rogers, Project Manager, NY-Sun, NYSERDA.

Pictured from left to right: Robert B. Catell, Chairman, Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center (AERTC) of Stonybrook University; Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Ph.D., D.D., Bishop of Brooklyn; Joseph Giamboi, Chairman, Board of Director, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation; and Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.

Solar panels on the roof of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Bishop Thomas V. Daily Residence in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, the first affordable housing development to be included in the housing portfolio of Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation (CCPOPD), the affordable housing developer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.

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