The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22

September 23, 2019
Contact: Terence Cullen

Constantinides, School Officials Kick Off Solar Installation at P.S. 171 in Astoria

Panels Will Generate Half School’s Annual Energy, Drastically Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
For photos of this announcement, click here

Astoria, NY — Climate Week kicked off in Astoria today as construction kicked off to install new solar panels on P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst. Council Member Costa Constantinides, New York City Schools officials, educators, and community leaders were on hand to unveil installation work at the elementary school.

“Western Queens will be a cleaner, greener place thanks because of the partnerships we formed to make schools such as P.S. 171 more energy efficient,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “With half of this school’s energy coming from these panels, we can show students how renewable power directly impacts their lives while keeping costs down. Thanks to Speaker Corey Johnson, the Department of Education and Principal Stone for your support and collaboration on this investment.”

“P.S. 171 is honored to be the first recipient of solar panels due to the generosity of Councilman Constantinides,” said Lisa Stone, Principal of P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst. “Half of our school’s energy will come from our solar panels. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to engage the entire Astoria community in learning about solar energy and its benefits. We will enhance our students’ learning of clean energy by providing this real world application to their Science knowledge. We will work with Councilman Constantinides to also educate our parents and neighbors on the benefits of clean, solar energy. We are extremely grateful to be working with our councilman to make Astoria a clean energy place to live.”

“The DOE is currently partnered closely with the City to install solar panels on the rooftops of over 100 public schools across all boroughs. These investments in clean energy enhance the unique connection between physical spaces and place-based learning, turning NYC schools into exciting living labs. Renewable energy and innovative solutions are only increasing in relevance and importance in the lifetimes of our students, and we are grateful for this opportunity to engage P.S. 171 and all NYC public schools communities in sustainability!” said Meredith McDermott, Director of Sustainability, New York City Department of Education.

P.S. 171 is the first of six Council District 22 schools that will receive solar panels within the next two years. This is part of a commitment to make western Queens schools run on clean, affordable power that also teaches tomorrow’s leaders about the impact of renewable energy on their daily lives. Council Member Constantinides secured the funding for this project in partnership with Speaker Corey Johnson. The New York City Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability is overseeing the solar implementation.

Work began last month to install 516 panels across 9,000 square feet of rooftop space at P.S. 171, located at 14-14 29th Avenue at 14th Street. Construction is scheduled to wrap up in December, and the panels should be operational by Spring 2020 with a lifespan of more than 20 years. Once they’re running, the solar panels will generate more than half P.S. 171’s annual energy consumption to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The building is estimated to emit 50 metric tons of CO2 less each year — the equivalent of avoiding the burning of almost 55,000 pounds of coal. A monitor panel placed in the building will show how much energy has been generated from solar as well as the share of greenhouse gases that were not emitted.

Education is a key component to generating solar on New York City rooftops. The New York City Solar Schools Education Program has provided more than 700 teachers with free professional training to connect solar technology on a building’s rooftop with the classroom. Integration of content in climate science, sustainability, and renewable energy helps to enhance standards-aligned instruction for elementary, middle, and high school students. The program is a partnership between the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability and environmental nonprofit Solar One with the support of New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ Division of Energy Management. More than 2,500 students have been impacted by the program so far.

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit