Borough President Adams is going green — and in more ways than one. First, he declared April to be “Financial Literacy Empowerment Month,” launching a borough-wide series of workshops aimed at helping Brooklynites better manage their greenbacks. Then Adams announced a plan to retrofit Borough Hall to transform the 165-year-old building into an icon of cutting-edge green design as a way to showcase how the borough’s older housing stock can be made more energy efficient. We sat down with Brooklyn’s Green Giant to ask how both campaigns are coming.
Bill Egbert: You’ve made April “Financial Literacy Empowerment Month” with a series of seminars across the borough on topics ranging from budgeting and building up credit scores, to entrepreneurship and small-business finance. What sort of response have you gotten so far?
Eric Adams: We’ve seen very good turnout so far. Brooklynites are really starting to examine their finances, and they’re glad that the events are spread out across the borough and not just concentrated in one area. But this initiative is about more than the workshops. We’re working on a handbook that anybody can get throughout the year. We want to provide financial information that consumers can actually use.
BE: Speaking of financial empowerment, last week you hosted a job fair at Borough Hall for low-income Brooklynites on public assistance. How did that go?
EA: We had between 900 and 1,000 people come out for that — a tremendous response. When I came in to Borough Hall that morning, the line went around the block. We plan to do more of these things. This building has to become more useful to people. Borough Hall has to be more than just a historical monument.
BE: This week you said that you want to retrofit Borough Hall to meet strict energy-efficiency standards, but for such a large, old building, that sounds like a very difficult an expensive proposition. Why do you want to do it, and how will it be paid for?
EA: If we can turn this building in to an example, we can show that any building from Brighton Beach to Bushwick can be made more efficient. We are willing to make up a substantial amount of the cost from our budget, but there are state, city and private resources available for projects like this. And it will pay for itself, to some extent. We see how much energy we lose though the windows, for example.
BE: Your green Borough Hall announcement was part of your launch of your new Renewable and Sustainable Energy Task Force. What is that and what do you want it to do?
EA: We brought together experts from city agencies, the governor’s office, Con Ed, CUNY, and the MTA to work on a green energy agenda for Brooklyn. We have a lot of groups and agencies working on this in isolation, not in collaboration, so it’s important to get everyone together to exchange information. We’ve always been wearing the same jersey, but we weren’t always in the same huddle. This meeting was a step toward changing that.
Times and locations for Financial Literacy Empowerment Month workshops are on the Borough President’s website at: www.brooklyn-usa.org/financialliteracyempowerment.html.