Chinatown businesses going green, at last
Poultry shops are not exactly popular spots for Chinatown locals to catch up on the latest gossip. Well, there is a reason for it. Upon entering Ming Kee Ming Kee Poultry Market on Kneeland Street, one’s olfactory and auditory senses are severely tested in the presence of the dozens of cooped-up birds. On the afternoon November 11, a young man decided to rise to the challenge by working in the company of quacking feathered friends. Electrician John D’Agostina spent the afternoon re-lamping and re-ballasting the lights to help the shop conserve energy and cut energy costs. Emily Damiano, Program Director of Sustainable Chinatown, dropped by to check in with D’Agostina and the business owner.
“John was just at gift shop in Chinatown installing new lights this morning. He is such a hard worker,” Damiano said of D’Agostina.
The Sustainable Chinatown Project, funded by The Barr Foundation, is a partnership among the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Asian American Civic Association, and Chinatown businesses. The project seeks to offer Chinatown businesses money saving options, including energy efficiency upgrades, waste management and renewable energy. With over 50 audits and 25 upgrades underway, it is safe to say that the Chinatown community responds positively to the green movement.
It is little surprise that the message of this project strikes a chord with those Chinatown business owners. After all, “save money” is a timeless slogan that goes a long way with the Chinese-speaking population. Besides, waste management has been a long-standing issue in Chinatown. Keeping Chinatown clean will help local restaurants and stores draw clients from outside of Chinatown, as visitors’ first impression of the neighborhood often determines their willingness to return.
The goals of this project are to help Chinatown businesses address the issues of rising energy, water, and solid waste management costs by providing practical and affordable solutions to help business owners save money and reduce environmental impacts, while building long term sustainable business expertise capacity in the community. Under the project, some upgrades are free-of-charge, while others are heavily subsidized.
Damiano, who has worked in Chinatown for over 11 years, approached over 150 businesses in Chinatown to do an energy audit and 50 said yes. Once a written agreement has been signed, an initial audit will be conducted by a licensed auditor to assess what needs to be done for an upgrade. Materials that are needed, such as light bulbs and ballasts, will be delivered to the site. Electricians from Rise Engineering Company, which has a contract with NSTAR, will do an installation. Afterwards, disposable light bulbs will be collected by a waste management company. Damiano, who acts a liaison between businesses and engineering company, then follows up with business owners to make sure that they are satisfied with the upgrade.
The Sustainable Chinatown Project will be hosting a kick-off event on Wednesday, December 1st at 2:00 pm at Bubor Cha Cha Restaurant on 45 Beach Street in Chinatown. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will be the keynote speaker. Representatives from the BRA and The BARR Foundation will also be attending the event. Three workshops, on the topics of energy efficiency, waste management and renewable energy will also be held. The event is open to the public. To learn more about the Sustainable Chinatown Project or RSVP to the event, please contact Emily Damiano at 617.426.9492 ext 224.