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Image source: hermmermferm on Flickr

Queens has a lot going on in terms of sustainable construction, alternative energy, wildlife conservation, and other environmental initiatives. In fact, many of the finest tourist attractions – and special spots for locals – in the borough have a green streak. Here are our picks for the most environmentally sustainable attractions in Queens.

1. In the upper reaches of Astoria, the Steinway & Sons piano factory (which gives awesome tours) has been using solar energy since 2009. In fact, the factory is home to the world’s largest parabolic solar installation – a setup that involves solar troughs that focus the sun’s energy to heat fluid, which in turn helps provide the cool, dehumidified air that is necessary for the manufacture of pianos. Other sustainable features of the factory include replanting trees to replenish its wood supply; and efficient closed-loop systems to collect dust and scraps for use in other parts of the manufacturing process. And above all, what makes Steinway instruments so sustainable is that they are built to last at least 80 to 100 years.

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Image source: Seabamirum on Flickr

Legendary Steinway & Sons pianos are made right in Astoria, and the factory played a huge part in the development of the neighborhood starting in 1870. The history of this company town is just one of the many fascinating topics we learned about on the highly recommended Steinway factory tour.

Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 in Manhattan by Henry Steinway (originally Heinrich Steinweg), a cabinet maker from Germany who had built his first piano in the kitchen of his home.

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Image source: Courtesy of Steinway & Sons, by photographer Chris Payne

Business Insider has a nice article about the Steinway & Sons factory, located in the northern reaches of Astoria (up the street from SingleCut brewery). The economic downturn did affect them negatively, but they feel that they are moving out of that and things are looking brighter. During the recession, the factory laid some people off – reducing staff from 300 to 215 – and made less pianos (hobbyist pianists were not spending their money on pianos for a while).