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Steinway factory gets new eco−friendly roof

For more than 150 years, Steinway & Sons has been one of the nation’s top piano manufacturers, but now the Astoria−based company plans to lead the pack in alternative energy technology.

The company, founded by German−born piano manufacturer Heinrich Engelhard Steinway in Manhattan in 1853, installed the world’s largest solar−powered rooftop system earlier this year at its headquarters at 1 Steinway Place in Astoria. The $875,000 system will provide cool air to dehumidify the factory and protect its pianos, said facilities manager Bill Rigos.

The system, which will act as a beta site for New York and New Jersey, is funded through federal tax credits and a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“Our objective is to continue to challenge the status quo,” said Andrew Horbachevsky, the company’s vice president of manufacturing. “Steinway has always been an innovative and progressive company. Using renewable resources reflects this same sensibility.”

The rooftop system, which will be completed by the end of the spring, pumps solar−heated water into an 80−ton chiller that will dehumidify the air in the factory, leaving no moisture that could damage materials used to create the company’s pianos. During the winter, the system will convert water to steam to heat the factory.

Rigos said the factory has a fully−operational system to collect dust that will eventually work in tandem with the solar−powered system. The dust−collecting system, which was also funded by NYSERDA and installed in November, is also a beta project, he said.

“We’ve been looking for alternative ways to reduce costs and help out the environment,” he said. “As our energy costs go up, these systems will offset the increases.”

He said the combined systems could shave an estimated $40,000 to $50,000 off the $2 million the company spends annually on energy consumption.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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