Stuyvesant Town to install solar panels on all buildings

Greenscape, pathways, and parks account for more than two-thirds of the 80 Lower East Side acres on which Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town sit. Built in 1947 in answer to Mayor LaGuardia's request for private sector help constructing affordable housing for veterans returning home from the Second World War, this gargantuan development sold to the Blackstone Group in 2015 for the gargantuan sum of $5.2 billion.

"We know that we have the size and scale to make an impact," Stuy Town Property Services CEO and GM Rick Hayduk said.

Hayduk grew up in the bowels of hotels assisting his father's commercial laundry business, now lives in Stuy Town with his family and explained the development's decision to install solar panels atop its 22 acres of buildings in six words: "It's the right thing to do."

For a property with LED lights in all public spaces and a half-year-old composting program that now accounts for 17 percent of all of Manhattan's residential composting, the opportunity to add enough solar panels to produce 3.8 megawatts of energy to power 1,000 apartments a year required little debate. More problematic seemed finding a large enough crane to place the panels atop the roofs covering the homes of 27,000 people.

"Once we get the panels onto the rooftops, it's a relatively simple engineering feat," Hayduk said.

Installation of the more than 9,700 panels begins in December and should finish sometime in 2019. Blackstone Group and Ivanhoe Cambridge don't expect to recoup their $10 million investment in energy savings for many years.

"It's well over a decade before we see any of the money back," Hayduk said, "but the ownership of Blackstone and Ivanhoe Cambridge, both companies believe in doing the right thing."

In this instance doing the right thing likely appeared more desirable and realistic based upon the commitment to the environment expressed by residents when Blackstone first acquired the property two years ago. With those 9,700 panels fully installed, an estimated six percent of Stuy Town's and Peter Cooper Village's consumed energy will be renewable.