the green fifteen:

15 challenges, 15 sustainable solutions


42% of Mott Haven and Hunts Point residents between the ages of 18-24 are out of school and out of work.

Our BEST Academy job training program prepares South Bronx residents for “green” employment. There are over 500 BEST Academy graduates, and just this year, we have provided over 15,000 hours of intensive green jobs training (which is free to all BEST Academy students).


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Pablo V. wanted to launch a new career in the green sector.

After getting a free education in energy-efficient building through our BEST Academy, he’s now a full-time facilities manager at Avenues, an international school in Chelsea. Pablo says that his BEST training landed him the job,“The guy who interviewed me hired me because I was the only person to have the G-PRO [Green Professional Building Skills] certification. I feel so lucky to have done the BEST training.”

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Traditional dark-roofed buildings in New York City absorb heat and consume wasteful amounts of energy in the summer.

In 2013, SSBx/SmartRoofs was the sole green workforce organization implementing the NYC CoolRoofs initiative, painting reflective white paint on roofs to help them stay cool. Overall, BEST graduates coated and cleaned an incredible 934,191 square feet of roofs this year – that’s nearly the square footage of the Chrysler Building!


Tail-pipe emissions from the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx cause dirty rainwater run-off to contaminate the Harlem River.

The BEST grads who work on our SmartRoofs crew helped build a “pop-up wetland” under the expressway that filters out pollutants from the water so it doesn’t pollute the river.

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Our award-winning Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training (BEST) Academy students need hands-on training to fully develop their skills; New York City is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.We teamed up with Rebuilding Together to bring BEST students to Coney Island to help restore homes. BEST students learned new skills while making a difference in New York.


South Bronx residents devote 9.3 percent of their income to energy utility bills (by comparison, in most New York City neighborhoods, residents spend one to two percent of their income on home energy).

We work with homeowners through the Green Jobs-Green New York program, which
provides funding for energy assessments, low-cost financing for energy upgrades, and technical and financial support to develop a green collar workforce. It enables Bronx property owners to make a significant improvement in their homes, businesses, and communities – making them more comfortable, more sustainable, and more economically sound.

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Every day, 15,000 trucks pass through the South Bronx and produce toxic air pollution.

Our work on the South Bronx Greenway improves local air quality by increasing the neighborhood’s green space and our full-time Greenway Steward keeps the Greenway’s plants healthy.


Facilities in the South Bronx handle 100% of the waste produced in the Bronx and 23% of the entire city’s commercial waste.

We are partners on the citywide Transform, Don’t Trash New York campaign, which urges the city to improve the truck-based system of waste transport, to increase opportunities for commercial waste recycling (which would result in more green jobs) and to improve workers’ labor standards.

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Each year, 1.5 billion gallons of raw sewage and pollutants discharge into the Bronx River and East River out of 4 combined sewage outflows in the South Bronx.

Our SmartRoofs social enterprise installs and maintains green roofs, which reduce the problem of combined sewer overflow because the vegetation on green roofs absorbs water. The largest green roof we’ve ever built is this one at ABC Carpet & Home’s South Bronx warehouse.


The South Bronx has the lowest recycling rate of any New York City neighborhood – 7.6%.

In partnership with EKOCYCLE – a collaboration between Coca-Cola and the musician – we launched a pilot program that aims to increase recycling rates in large residential buildings in the South Bronx.

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Asthma is a major challenge in the South Bronx and local air pollution is often cited as a major cause of the problem.

SSBx hosted two tree giveaways this year in the hope that the 250 trees would benefit the South Bronx’s residents for decades to come.


Living in an urban environment, New York City residents lack opportunities to interact with nature.

We provide volunteers with opportunities to beautify and greenify the Bronx. Just this year, we had awesome volunteers from Coca-Cola, KKR, SunGard, Capital One, and community groups. Our volunteers plant trees, build community gardens, install tree guards, and more!

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The South Bronx has some of the best, but least-utilized, parks in New York City.

The annual Hunts Point Hustle is more than just a 5K walk/run. It brings together the community for food, fun and fitness – and it gives local residents an opportunity to experience Hunts Point Riverside Park and Barretto Point Park. Plus, the kids’ activities teach them about plants and nature!


Making South Bronx commercial districts great places to shop.

Our SmartRoofs social enterprise worked with the Fordham Road Business Improvement District to beautify an area of the district that needed some sprucing up. We built new tree pits and added flowers to an area that has become much more popular now that this greenery has been added.

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The Sheridan Expressway, a little-used piece of highway, bisects communities in the South Bronx, depriving residents of access to the Bronx waterfront and other local amenities such as parks.

The South Bronx River Watershed Alliance is a coalition of 7 organizations, including SSBx, that campaigns for the removal of the Sheridan Expressway and for improvements to the area surrounding it.