Green City Force’s AmeriCorps Members perform environmental service throughout NYC, reducing New York’s carbon footprint and promoting sustainable practices. Our service work falls primarily into two categories: promoting Energy Efficiency and Conservation, and Stewarding Public Lands and Green Spaces.
AmeriCorps Members serve six month terms, during which they help low-income families save energy, money and have healthier homes through energy audits, education and retrofits. GCF also has one 11-month AmeriCorps team, sponsored in part by The Corps Network’s Opportunity Youth Service Initiative (OYSI), which performs land stewardship, increases access to green space and healthy foods for low-income New Yorkers, and promotes energy efficiency through education.
Service Projects: Energy Efficiency
Love Where You Live Challenge
In 2012, GCF, in partnership with NYCHA’s Department of Energy Finance and Sustainability Management, launched the Love Where You Live Challenge. By performing energy assessments, teaching residents energy-saving practices, and—with a friendly building-to-building competition—encouraging residents to lower their energy consumption, Corps Members achieved a greenhouse gas emissions savings comparable to taking 26.2 cars off the road per year and significant savings to the housing authority. The Challenge has been replicated each year since in one-two NYCHA developments.
EmPower New York
GCF Corps Members are helping to connect low-income families with free, cost-saving energy reduction services, through outreach for NYSERDA’s EmPower New York and the Weatherization Innovations Pilot Program (WIPP). Services may include installing CFL light bulbs and faucet aerators, insulating walls, attics, and exposed pipes, and testing inefficient refrigerators for potential replacement.
Cool Roofs (past service project)
During the 2010 NYC oCoolRoofs campaign, GCF Corps Members cleaned or coated several roofs a day, starting early in the morning and traveling to different locations around the city. By cleaning or coating over 1 million square feet of rooftop, Corps Members lowered costs by cooling the buildings they coated up to 10 degrees. In turn, they reduced building energy use by up to 18%—saving money and lowering CO2 emissions. You can learn more about Corps Member perspectives on our Cool Roofs work here.
Service Projects: Land Stewardship
Red Hook NYCHA Farm
In 2013, GCF’s Corps Members worked with NYCHA and Added Value to build the first large-scale urban farm on NYC public housing property. In the first growing season on this 1.1 acre farm, Corps Members grew 1.7 tons of vegetables for Red Hook’s 7,000 public housing residents and engaged 375 school children in an underserved community through experiential learning about food, gardening and wellness. Current GCF Corps Members continue to maintain the farm, engage residents in volunteering and educational programming, and distribute each harvest to NYCHA residents and local food pantries. The farm has enhanced the beauty and safety of a space that was once an empty lot.
In partnership with NYCHA, Planters, and The Corps Network, GCF built Planters Grove—a sustainable park located at NYCHA’s Lillian Wald development on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Since The Grove’s opening in 2011, GCF Corps Members and Alumni continue to maintain it and engage residents as volunteers at the site. In building this park, GCF and partners unlocked the potential of nearly one acre of green space that was previously inaccessible to thousands of residents while also creating a sink for wastewater runoff in a flood-prone neighborhood.
In partnership with Added Value’s community composting program, GCF Corps Members have helped divert hundreds of tons of food waste from landfills while simultaneously creating healthy soil amendments that support the sustainable growth of the Red Hook NYCHA Farm and the Red Hook Community Farm.
NYCHA Garden & Greening
Corps Members support NYCHA’s Garden & Greening program by helping to build, maintain and engage residents in resident gardens, and assist with the launch and facilitation of Resident Green Committees (RGCs). Two GCF graduates have founded RGCs in their own developments. Corps Members volunteer at RGC and Garden & Greening Conferences. NYCHA recognized GCF in 2012 with a certificate of appreciation for GCF’s “valuable contributions to NYCHA’s Garden & Greening Program and NYCHA’s residents”.