A new sustainable energy initiative which will see an expansion of solar panels on affordable housing developments in Brooklyn and Queens has been launched by the Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens.

Laudato Si Corporation, named after Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical: On Care for Common Home Addressing Climate Change, is aimed at generating renewable energy and income to continue sustainability initiatives on affordable housing developments built by the organization.

New solar photovoltaic systems will be installed on the roofs of Bishop Thomas V. Daily Residence at 683 Dean Street in Prospect Heights, with 60 supportive housing units; Our Lady of Fatima Senior Housing located at 78-01 30th Avenue in Jackson Heights, with 93 senior units; Peter J. Striano Senior Residence/Howard Beach Apartments at 155-55 Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, with 96 senior units; and the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Residence at 800 Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, with 88 supportive housing units.

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, which is behind the initiative, is one of the largest faith-based social service agencies and providers of affordable housing in the United States. It currently provides 4,330 units of affordable housing, with 240 additional units currently under construction.

On Friday, Bishop of Brooklyn Nicholas DiMarzio joined Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and community members for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of the new initiative.

“Pope Francis has said ‘God forgives all the time, people forgive some of the time, but nature never forgives’. We cannot destroy the nature that God has given to us. That is one of our responsibilities’,” DiMarzio said.

He said Catholic Charities’ commitment to affordable housing rested upon the Church’s teaching and reflected “the dignity of the human person and the value of the family.”

“And now the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ commitment to renewable energy reflects our commitment to the planet and our future.”

Law firm Nixon Peabody provided pro bono support in the development of Laudato Si Corporation and energy and water management company Bright Power is designing and installing solar arrays on the existing properties with underutilized roof space.

The project will use an Inclusive Community Solar Agreement, which will sell the solar power generated from these four buildings to subscribers, such as local households that wish to purchase electricity from a local, renewable source.

The funds generated through this program will be reinvested into future Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si sustainability initiatives, the organization said.

Despite the abundance of local, state, and federal energy efficiency resources available, accessing and implementing sustainability retrofits remained a challenge for many nonprofit affordable housing developers due to financing gaps, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens said.

The goal of Laudato Si Corporationis to create and tap into a new resource and ultimately develop a solar retrofit project of scale relative to the existing Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development affordable housing portfolio, the organization said.

The pilot program, including equipment purchase, is matched with funds from Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority energy incentives, and Enterprise Community Partners Section 4 program.

Bright Power Affordable Housing Account and Market Development Manager Jamie Bemis said Bright Power applauded Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development for their “forward-thinking, innovative, and impactful move” to create the Laudato Si Corporation, “bringing clean, renewable energy to more New Yorkers.”

“This commitment and model is one that other real estate owners and developers can and should replicate.”

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