Entrepreneur Charley Ryan has his eye on the ball. As co-founder of Brooklyn Bowl, a 23,000-square-foot bowling alley/concert hall/eatery that recently opened in the hip area of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Ryan knew he wanted the place to be about more than just laminated lanes and striped bowling pins.
"I look at some of these places and they don't stand for anything," he says. "I think, 'What's the point?'"
That's why Ryan and co-founder Peter Shapiro are striving to create a truly unique venue they hope will be the first U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified bowling alley in the world.
"We knew right from the beginning that we wanted this to be a green project," Ryan says.
Brooklyn Bowl exhibits an impressive list of green attributes, including the use of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood, four 10-foot ceiling fans to cut central heating and cooling needs, Energy Star appliances and a no-bottle policy for both beer and water.
"We're not going to have bottled water because it's just a disaster in terms of the amount of plastic generated," Ryan says.
The building also features 100 percent reclaimed cork floors in the bowler's lounge and a stage floor made entirely of recycled truck tires, giving the place a trendy feel not typical of most bowling alleys.
Even the bowling operation itself has been greened, with the use of cutting-edge pin spotter machines that cut energy use 75 percent by eliminating the energy-intensive process of sweeping off old pins and replacing them with new ones.
"The new pin machines are what allowed us to even think about being LEED-certified," says Justin Bolognino, media and marketing director for Brooklyn Bowl.
Most importantly, the owners are helping push greener energy solutions by operating Brooklyn Bowl with 100 percent wind-powered electricity.
"Some people poo-poo the idea because it's just a financial contribution, but there's a lot of different ways to show the faith," Ryan says.
To tie it all in, Brooklyn Bowl will be decked out in a dark Coney Island theme complete with a shooting gallery motif in the main bar, a set of creepy-looking "knock down punks" modeled after the ones used in carnival booths and old Coney Island posters, among other paraphernalia reminiscent of the famous Brooklyn beach and amusement park.
"We're trying to channel an aspect of Brooklyn that is hopefully still part of the present," Ryan says.
As the former owner and general manager of Wetlands Preserve, a Manhattan-based music club that doubled as an environmental and social justice activism center, Shapiro and Ryan are no strangers to using music venues to try to change the world in a positive way.
"Wetlands had a greater purpose in trying to gently get the word out to people about social issues," Ryan says.
That change agent attitude is easy to see as Ryan chatters excitedly about the ins and outs of greening the business, from the many steps involved in Forest Stewardship Council certification to the history of cork, all in one stream of consciousness.
But Brooklyn Bowl is more than just a green venue with low-flow toilets and LED stage lights (though it has those, too). It's also a showcase of local artists and businesses, as is evident by the Brooklyn-exclusive on-tap beer lineup from breweries like Sixpoint Craft Ales, Brooklyn Brewery and Kelso of Brooklyn and the full food menu by Blue Ribbon, a popular Brooklyn-based restaurant.
"We could have the usual like Heineken or Coors," Ryan says. "I like those beers, but it does take fossil fuel to make them elsewhere and to float them across the sea to get them here. It's much better to employ people locally that make things just as good, and not burn the fossil fuel."
The Brooklyn Bowl also plans to serve as an "incubator of talent" by featuring local up-and-coming bands as well as comedy and variety-style acts, Ryan says.
The final pin in this eco-friendly establishment, he adds, will be the installation of 30 bicycle racks outside Brooklyn Bowl, a big plus for both the environment and the extremely bike-friendly Williamsburg neighborhood crowd.
"We're just trying to be as consistent as we can be," Ryan says. "We know we're not going to get everything right, but you have to at least try to get everything right in order to even come close."