NY Daily News features BALDEV DUGGAL who came to New York in 1957 from India with $200 and no ticket home and has built up a multi-million dollar eco-light business.
Now he’s poised to change the world. Duggal, who first made a name for himself when he founded a photo studio in the early 1960s that later became one of the largest production houses in the country, now controls 100,000 square feet in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including a huge, eco-friendly building that was once an asbestos-filled abandoned monstrosity. Called the Duggal Greenhouse, the just-opened building is the center of Duggal Energy Solutions, a company devoted to solving global electricity, water and agriculture problems. The company’s first product, Lumi-Solair, is an off-grid streetlamp powered by wind, the sun or a combination of the two.
More than 50 “Lumis” are installed in the Navy Yard with others being used at the Charlotte, N.C., airport, Monmouth County, N.J., courthouse, and Atlantic City boardwalk, where it was the only street light to work through Hurricane Sandy. Electricity was Duggal’s first research initiative because future green objectives would need power. Now, Duggal is looking at “other key areas like food and water,” he said.
“This is my legacy. I want to leave the world a better place than how I found it. All of this will happen right here, in New York, the greatest place on Earth, in the city and country that gave me the opportunity to do this.” The building is not just for business, but pleasure, too. Heineken threw a 1,300- person party in the building to launch a new bottle.
Guests arrived and departed via boat to a dock facing the Manhattan skyline. Beyonce secretly rehearsed for her new tour in the structure. But being an eco-visionary is Duggal’s goal. Next, the 77-year-old greentrepreneur plans on powering cell towers in India, working on getting clean water to third-world countries, and agricultural solutions, all of which will come from his company’s headquarters on E. 23rd St. and his Navy Yard structures.
Duggal’s investment in the Navy Yard began 12 years ago with one 10,000-square-foot building. Today, he has 10 times the space across seven structures. He’ll take over another property adjacent to the Greenhouse where he plans a cafe, eco-lounge and urban farm on the roof. The Navy Yard, a nonprofit with an investment arm, took an active role in helping Duggal grow. “He’s a creative genius,” said Navy Yard CEO Andrew Kimball, whose group contributed $500,000 to the Greenhouse and saved over $600,000 by installing “Lumis.” “This is the exact kind of business we want. Duggal is about high-design, innovative manufacturing, and local and global appeal. One look at the Greenhouse and you see what’s possible at the Yard.” Duggal worked on the Greenhouse with New York architect Gregory Okshteyn, who runs Studios GO. The renovation married the older structure with a fully modernized overhaul. “This is the about the past, present and future,” said Duggal, who won an EPA award for Lumi-Solair. “I couldn’t ever give up this vision. I don’t want to the biggest energy company in the world, just the best.”
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