Linda Tool in industrial Red Hook, New York is an unlikely place to find green space. But, don’t tell that to owner Mike DiMarino. Mr. DiMarino renovated the 12,500 foot factory roof into a posh “green roof.” Located in the historic Brooklyn neighborhood, Linda Tool took another step in their mission to becoming environmentally sound with the revamp of the one-time tar roof. Started in 2008, the roof project was recently featured for this year’s rooftop tours during NYC Wildflower Week.
Establish in 1952, Linda Tool provides “contract manufacturing of custom precision components and assemblies.” The company branches into a variety of fields ranging from aerospace to medical devices. Red Hook is known as a hard-working, industrial class neighborhood lined with cobblestone streets and remarkable views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Warehouses are plentiful making up the majority of the area. Despite industrial surroundings, DiMarino’s commitment to the well being of clientele, employees and environment provided the backbone in opting for a green roof.
The Department of Energy Cost Share Grant started construction in November 2008. The grant became reality through efforts by both Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC). Both Congresswoman Velasquez and SBIDC are rich in history, fighting for neighborhood development and environmental solutions.
Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez became the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992. Since then, she has accumulated numerous awards and accolades. Congresswoman Velasquez’s passion is rooted in economic development, community health and environment, along with equal rights. Her work has made her a figurehead for Small Business Committee and the House Financial Services Committee.
SBIDC formed in 1978 with the goal of “providing advocacy and services to help businesses [in Brooklyn neighborhoods] grow and create employment opportunities for local residents.” SBIDC focuses on working class neighborhoods such as Sunset Park, Red Hook and Gowanus. Many of the areas SBIDC works with are predominantly non-English speaking, with minimal education and high poverty. The organization’s mission spans further by providing improvements that enhance quality of life for both residents and businesses.
With backing from Congresswoman Velasquez and SBIDC, DiMarino was funded a $250,000 grant to construct a green roof. At an estimated $14 a square foot, installing a green roof is much more costly than a traditional tar roof. However, DiMarino focused on the bigger picture of better building insulation, which will reduce heating and cooling costs by a third and rainwater absorption, which will prevent an estimated 500,000 gallons of water per year from overflowing drains.
After securing the grant, DiMarino contacted Paul Mankiewicz, director of the Gaia Institute. The Gaia Institute is based off a scientific idea known as the Gaia hypothesis. According to the Institute’s website, the hypothesis asserts that “the responses of life’s processes to disturbances tend to regulate the state of Earth’s conditions to favor life.” Dr. Mankiewicz leads the staff in fulfilling the Institute’s mission of cleaning the “waste” flow of human activities to create landscapes that provides a habitat for life.
Dr. Mankiewicz designed Linda Tool’s green roof based off the Institute’s mission creating an oasis of clovers and flowers – as Sarah Goodyear of Grist reported, “an ecosystem unto itself.” Dr. Mankiewicz used his own patented soil blend for the project’s basis that incorporates recycled polystyrene foam and compost. Not only does the roof provide a habitat for foliage, but in turn the foliage provides a habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.
Already eco-minded the factory recycles and reuses when possible, ensures clean air quality, installed “Mist Collectors,” which prevents machine mist from entering into shop air and changed several machine fluids to help reduce waste. For DiMarino the plant and flower rich roof was a logical step in the factory’s quest to stay environmentally aware.
Photo Credit: epa.gov/heatisland/mitigation/greenroofs.htm