Leading Queens landlord, Zara Realty, has installed solar technology on more than half the buildings it owns in the borough.
The initiative is part of an ambitious project that will eventually transform its entire portfolio and produce enough clean energy to offset the greenhouse gas emissions of 5 million vehicle miles driven each year.
Solar panels have been installed on 26 of the 45 buildings Zara Realty owns and manages in Queens, enough to power more than 125 households, producing 1.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh), about half the 2.7 million kilowatt hours (kWh) that will be produced when the project is complete at the end of 2021.
Zara is converting all energy use in the common areas of its Queens buildings to clean solar energy, which will also be equivalent to eliminating the carbon emissions of 355 homes and 432 cars over the course of a year.
The annual energy savings would equal the carbon sequestered by 2,393 acres of forest, or by the planting of 33,617 new trees.
Nearly 3,000 of the planned 6,500 panels have been installed and are currently supplying energy. The $6.5 million installation project is being carried out by Premier Solar Solutions, a veteran-owned New York based solar installation company. The project supports 50 jobs.
Construction was briefly delayed in spring 2020 as a result of the pandemic but was resumed when solar energy installation was declared essential by New York State.
“If there is one thing this last year of challenges has made clear, it’s that we all must do whatever we can to help one another and help our planet,” said Tony Subraj, co-Managing Partner at Zara Realty. “As property owners, we are continually making key investments in infrastructure to secure quality housing for generations. As part of that mission, Zara Realty feels it is important to make those investments part of our commitment to leaving a cleaner, greener world for our children. Renewable energy is the future, and Zara Realty has always striven to be at the forefront of the effort to improve our environment.”
“Climate change is one of the most urgent crises facing our world and New York City will be particularly vulnerable to its effects,” said Amir Sobhraj, co-Managing Partner at Zara Realty. “We have a collective responsibility to do what is within our power to reduce carbon emissions, and as landlords we have a unique role to play. This solar energy upgrade will mean cleaner air, a brighter future for the coming generations, and it will ultimately reduce costs.”
“Zara Realty has shown tremendous vision and commitment to renewable energy and this project should serve as a model for other landlords in New York,” said Chris Hoffmann President/Founder of Premier Solar Solutions. “The city and the state have laid out a path to being carbon-free, and this is precisely the type of work it will take to get there. As a Queens native, it makes me so happy to see my home borough at the cutting edge of this effort to realize the goal of clean, renewable energy to ensure our future.”
“Investing in solar energy is the right thing to do for our environment, for our quality of life, and, ultimately for our bottom lines,” said Stephen Owen, Managing Partner/Founder of Sol Alliance. “By making the investment into renewables now, landlords like Zara Realty are helping to reduce the massive carbon footprint of New York City, and they are showing the world how converting to solar is both practical and imperative.”
“The Queens Chamber is proud to see a great Queens business, Zara Realty, leading the way when it comes to social responsibility,” said Thomas Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “Zara’s commitment to solarizing their building stock is the right thing to do for our environment and ensuring that Queens residents have a great place to live for generations to come. We are delighted to see our Chamber members, Premier Solar Solutions, which is taking the lead on this important project, and Sol Alliance, working together to show that our borough is on the cutting edge of creating the green energy jobs of tomorrow.”
The project aligns with the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), which aims to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% and to generate 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable resources by 2030, in addition to the city’s OneNYC plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050. According to OneNYC, nearly 75 percent of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere in New York City comes from buildings.
Installation of the solar panels on Zara’s 45 buildings will be designed to maximize efficiency by using standard panels affixed to racking systems and panels that lift and tilt above the roofline to ensure every available surface is used.