The city businesses that win acclaim for "going green" tend to favor grand gestures—a towering rooftop solar array, an eco-friendlier taxi fleet, an energy-efficient skyscraper—while the gradual greening of mom-and-pop storefronts usually goes overlooked.
But new programs are helping to guide small-business owners across New York City through the process of retrofitting, convincing those who run bodegas and boutiques to make difficult investments in energy-saving technologies.
"Look, I know what I have to do. The lights I have, they don't even produce the fixtures [for them] anymore," said Kamal Nuru, co-owner of Levels Barbershop on 125th Street in Harlem. "But it's tough to sort through everything."
Mr. Nuru turned to BlocPower, a nonprofit group that performed a "green audit" on his 17-year-old barbershop. As a result of the inspection, he was convinced to replace the lights in his shop with more efficient, longer-lasting options.
The audit estimated that a one-time lighting investment of between $3,000 and $5,000 would save the barber between $450 and $2,000 a year on his energy bills, said Decker Ngongang, a program manager at Echoing Green, which oversees BlocPower.
The group is also assisting Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and a women's shelter in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx.