On the Record
by Daniel Bush
Feb 10, 2009 | 19070 views | 1 1 comments | 683 683 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Lynne Serpe decided to go green, she really went green.

We're not talking the occasional organic milk purchase or renunciation of plastic bags (sometimes, anyway, when it isn't too inconvenient). In the past few years, Serpe has become a leading environmental activist in Queens and Brooklyn.

The co-founder of an eco-friendly organization, campaign manager for a Green Party candidate, and Community Liaison for the Community Environmental Center, Serpe spoke recently of her efforts to green the outer boroughs and what environmentalists might expect from a new administration that has the environment pretty high up on its agenda.

Serpe, a Long Island native and current Astoria resident, founded Triple R events in 2008 with Robyn Sklar after Sklar's unsuccessful Green Party bid for a City Council seat in 2005. Serpe, who managed Sklar's campaign, said they were surprised and inspired by the amount of people who were interested in environmental issues, but didn't know exactly how to become involved - or even how to lead more sustainable lifestyles.

"During the campaign there were a lot of people asking about environmental issues," Serpe said in an interview. "So we founded Triple R because we wanted to let people know what resources exist to live more sustainable lives."

Triple R, which stands for Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, operates on a non-profit model in Long Island City, Astoria and throughout Queens. Serpe's group has its hands in all things green in the borough. Triple R has hosted a Green Drinks soiree, fashion shows, a wine tasting or two, and outdoor community garden bonanzas, among other events.

Now in its second year of existence, the organization is quickly gaining traction as a serious green player in the outer boroughs.

"We decided that there was a role that we could play that wasn't a purely political role," said Serpe, "to show people how easy and affordable it is to live green and what the available local resources are out there to do so."

When she isn't hosting events, Serpe can be found in her day job at the Community Environmental Center (CEC). CEC, which was founded in 1994, receives funding through the U.S. Department of Energy and the state's Division of Housing and Community Renewal to carry out energy efficiency and weatherization projects in low-income households, said Serpe.

The largest non-profit energy conservation organization in the state, Serpe's CEC office serves many neighborhoods in eastern, central and downtown Brooklyn, and western Queens.

"CEC has saved roughly 300,000 people in over 100,000 apartments and houses more than $300 million in utility costs," said Serpe, "and prevented approximately 750,000 tons of carbon emissions."

Not bad. But then again, for Lynne Serpe, there's always more work to be done.

"Hopefully, CEC can help even more people," she said.

That will depend heavily on the amount of environmental and energy sector funding set aside in the Obama Administration's economic rescue package, currently working its way through Congress. Serpe said she's crossing her fingers President Obama will come through.

"Hopefully, we'll have even more money with the stimulus bill," said Serpe.
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Lynne Serpe
February 12, 2009
Weatherization can include the replacement, retrofitting, or repair of your heating appliance system (including boilers); testing for gas leaks; installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; installation of high-efficiency cellulose insulation in walls and attics; installation of low flow shower heads, aerators and energy saving light bulbs; superior weather-stripping and air-sealing.

Please call Community Environmental Center (CEC)at 718-784-1444 to find out if you are eligible for these free or low-cost weatherization services, or visit www.cecenter.org