BPCA to Host Public Discussion Tonight, with Focus on Making Community Sustainable
Buro Happold engineer Josh Margul: “Energy is the biggest part of conversation with respect to greenhouse-gas emissions. And there are two angles to this: reducing energy consumption in Battery Park City buildings and spaces, while also using renewables for the balance of energy demands.”
Tonight (Wednesday, March 11), the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) will host the third in an ongoing series of public meetings that aim to foster consensus on goals and methods for the agency’s upcoming sustainability plan, which is slated for release on Earth Day, 2020 (April 22).
This follows a January 22 meeting, at which Josh Margul, of the engineering firm Buro Happold (which is leading the team of consultants advising the Authority on sustainability planning) outlined areas of focus for the ongoing effort. “Sustainability is a remarkably broad and holistic concept, which we’ve organized into four topic areas,” he began: “energy, water, waste, and site.”
“Energy is the biggest part of conversation with respect to greenhouse-gas emissions,” Mr. Margul continued. “And there are two angles to this: reducing energy consumption in Battery Park City buildings and spaces, while also using renewables for the balance of energy demands.”
He noted that, “buildings in Battery Park City were developed over several decades, to different performance standards using different equipment, and with different facade types. So they perform very differently.”
He also noted that, “beginning this year, New York City law says that buildings will be required to post energy star scores in their lobbies. That will be a letter grade, similar to restaurants. In Battery Park City, these scores vary vastly across the site.”
About water, Mr. Margul noted, “this is also something we also approach in two ways — reducing consumption, while also considering how storm water is dealt with on site.” Water use varies widely across Battery Park City’s 92 acres, he noted, saying that, “water reuse and recycling are already happening in six of the newer buildings around Tear Drop Park.””
Battery Park City produces slightly more than 46 million pounds of garbage each year, of which almost 80 percent comes from commercial (rather than residential) structures, and two-thirds of which goes into landfills.
“Even so,” he continued, “this community uses 378 million gallons every year, which is enough to fill the Asphalt Green swimming pool 1,100 times,” or roughly three times each day.
“Storm-water permeability is another area of focus,” he said. “This refers to ability of water to infiltrate down into the soils below, instead of being washed into City’s storm water sewers or into Hudson River.”
About the community’s output of garbage, Mr. Margul observed, “this is the area most closely associated with sustainability, because it’s the first thing we hear about, something we deal with in day-to-day life.”
“Most of Battery Park City’s solid waste is produced by commercial buildings, which generally have a higher waste-production profile than residential structures. Across Battery park City, the total comes to approximately 46.2 million pounds of waste each year, two thirds of which goes into landfills.”
“Our goals are better waste management practices — reducing amount of waste we produce on site, as well as having green materials coming in,” he explained. “More sustainable materials coming in, coupled with a circular re-use economy within Battery Park City, will ideally mean you’ll have less waste going out.”
Battery Park City buildings, as rated by their Energy Star Score, which evaluates energy consumption, while comparing buildings to a comparable national population, this gauging the level of energy performance
Finally, Mr. Margul reflected that, “the site category refers to the broader environmental quality of Battery Park City, and encompasses many areas, from how we deal with open spaces and landscaping to transportation practices, from how we get around to where we park our cars. These are the larger environmental health issues that impact our day-to-day lives, and include topics such as air quality and comfort.” This category will include initiatives like shared streets, and composting, he said.
The collaborative roundtable discussion slated for this evening’s meeting will focus on a mandate that springs from one of the many goals listed in the BPCA’s recently announced Strategic plan — namely to, “develop and implement a strategy to achieve a carbon neutral Battery Park City,” no later than 2050. It is also related to the Climate Mobilization Act passed by New York’s City Council last April, a package of eleven pieces of legislation that requires buildings greater than 25,000 square feet to reduce their carbon emissions to meet strict limits in 2024 and 2030.
For Battery Park City, both the opportunities and the challenges will be considerable. In the spring of 2003, the community, under the leadership of the BPCA, became the site of the first “green” residential high-rise (the Solaire, located at 20 River Terrace) in the United States. This was the first of eight similar buildings, all boasting various levels of LEED (“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”) certification. Those buildings were developed on the BPCA’s “green guidelines,” first issued in 2000, and then updated five years later. And the eco-friendly buildings themselves followed decades of environmental stewardship in the community’s parks, which have been managed and maintained without harmful pesticides or fertilizers from Battery Park City’s earliest days.
Battery Park City uses 378 million gallons of water every year, which is enough to fill the Asphalt Green swimming pool 1,100 times, or roughly three times each day.
But, with the community now essentially built out, the opportunity to break new ground will inevitably focus (both figuratively and literally) more on modernizing existing facilities and infrastructure, rather than building from scratch. Many of the older buildings within the community (particularly Gateway Plaza) are strikingly inefficient by modern environmental standards. And even the second generation of towers, dating from the 1990s, now contain features (such as heating systems, and non-insulated windows) that were standard in the era before climate change had become an issue, and are, in any event, nearing the ends of their design lifetimes.
Given that the Climate Mobilization Act affects some 50,000 existing residential and commercial buildings throughout New York City, it is possible to argue that sustainability retrofits do not impose unique challenges on buildings in Battery Park City. But this position would ignore the exotic nature of property ownership in the community, where homeowners, landlords, and developers do not own outright the acreage they occupy, but instead lease the space (through the year 2069), in exchange for yearly payments to the BPCA of ground rent, as well as so-called “payments in lieu of taxes” (PILOT). Concerns about this arrangement have grown acute in recent years, as more residents have come to realize that, under the current terms of the ground lease, their homes will disappear in 49 years, as ownership of all the real estate in Battery Park City reverts to the Authority. For condominium owners, this will mean that their property is effectively confiscated, while renters will face the prospect of eviction. Both owners and tenants will be rendered homeless under this scenario.
The current leadership team at the BPCA has repeatedly stated that is has no intention of pursuing this option. But it has yet to implement any legally binding change that will prevent it from happening. Given that the policymakers who will be running the BPCA in 2069 have probably not yet been born, such assurances — while encouraging — fall short of a resolving the dilemma.
In this context, a coherent case can be made that it is not only in the BPCA’s best interest — but that agency’s ultimate responsibility — to play a leading role in maintaining and updating these buildings. The Authority’s strategic plan calls for that agency to, “incentivize residential and commercial buildings to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.” Whether these incentives will include financial assistance has yet to be determined. But such a program would be welcome news for many of the residential towers, which are already facing an onerous financial burden in the forms of ground rent and PILOT obligations.
The evolution of this relationship will be guided by Sarah Fisher Curtin, a senior project manager at the BPCA, who served as the Sustainability Strategic Planner at the University of Pennsylvania from 2009 through 2016. Ms. Fisher Curtin notes that, “we’d love as much participation as possible at this roundtable — and via our online survey — not only to capture ideas and priorities from across Battery Park City, but also to build awareness about our sustainability practices, and how we can all foster a greener community.”
Wednesday’s meeting, which starts at 6:30 pm, will be held at Six River Terrace, across the street from the Irish Hunger Memorial and next to Le Pain Quotiden.
CB1 Mulls Tolling Plan, While Albany Feuds with Washington
Dr. Betty Kay: “The bottom line is tolls must generate $1 billion per year. The idea is to encourage people not to bring their cars in.”
A recent meeting of the Transportation Committee of Community Board 1 became the forum for a heated discussion about the merits of the congestion pricing plan that is slated to bring tolls to vehicles entering Lower Manhattan (including those of residents) as soon as next January.
Committee chair Dr. Betty Kay began by outlining the rationale for the plan, saying, “there are some benefits to doing this. The State’s Climate Leadership law requires that we reduce carbon output to 40 recent of 1990 levels by 2030. And the Department of Transportation says that the transportation sector is responsible 35 percent of the State’s carbon. It’s transportation that has been lagging, while buildings and waste have already made cuts. So we need a lot of cuts to transportation carbon.” Other projected benefits of congestion pricing, she noted, “would include reductions in air pollution and noise pollution.”
Make your own St. Patrick’s Day craft. All materials will be provided. First come, first served. For children ages 3 and older. New York City Public Library, Battery Park City branch, 175 North End Avenue.
CB1 Licensing & Permits Committee
Community Board 1 – Conference Room 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North
1) Rescheduling April Licensing & Permits Committee due to holiday – Discussion
2) Small Business Services/Economic Development Corporation concession agreement for the historic South Street Seaport District – Discussion & resolution
Community Roundtable Discussion
Hosted by the Battery Park City Authority
Residents are invited to contribute ideas about how to reach the Authority’s goal of
a carbon-neutral community, as well as to brainstorm about topics like energy and water consumption, waste management, and air quality. Six River Terrace
No R.S.V.P. necessary.
Hollywood and China: Opportunities and Challenges
China is on track to overtake the United States as the largest consumer of movies in the world. With China moving to open its film market wider to foreign investment, how is Hollywood responding? How are storylines, choice of actors, and marketing strategies shifting? Come hear a panel of creative, business and legal experts in entertainment and media share insights into the latest trends, including how rapid growth in China’s market is affecting the ways that film and TV are financed, produced and distributed in today’s global economy—while creating new opportunities and challenges for all concerned. $45, 40 Rector Street.
Heroines Of The Holocaust
Museum of Jewish Heritage
This talk will focus on female resistance fighters of the Holocaust including Zivia Lubetkin, the highest-ranking woman in Warsaw’s underground, and Vitka Kempner, a partisan leader who blew up a German ammunition train with a grenade. Dr. Lori Weintrob (Director, Wagner College Holocaust Center) will be joined by Auschwitz survivor Rachel Rachama Roth who will provide her eyewitness testimony to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The discussion will be moderated by Yiddish culture writer Rokhl Kafrissen (Tablet). $8, $10 36 Battery Place
Arrivals & Departures
Cruise Ships in the Harbor
Sunday, March 15
Anthem of the Seas
Inbound 5:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 3:00 pm
Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 3:30 pm
Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Monday, March 16
Inbound 9:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm
Many ships pass Battery Park City on their way to and from the midtown passenger ship terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from docks in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate Clock and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. they are also subject to tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
Today In History March 11
On March 10, 1897, in Martinsville, West Virginia, a meteor exploded over the town.
This was announced in a front-page New York Times article published on March 11, 1897:
“A meteor burst over the town of New Martinsville yesterday. The noise of the explosion resembled the shock of a heavy artillery salute, and was heard for twenty miles. The cylindrical shaped ball of fire was forging along in a southwesterly direction when first discovered. The hissing sound of the fire could be heard for miles, and the smoke gave the meteor the appearance of a burning balloon.
When the meteor exploded the pieces flew in all directions, like a volcanic upheaval, and solid walls were pierced by the fragments. David Leisure was knocked down by the force of the air caused by the rapidity with which the body passed, before it broke. The blow rendered him unconscious. One horse had its head crushed and nearly torn from the trunk by a fragment of the meteor, and another horse in the next stall was discovered to be stone deaf.
The coming of the meteor was heralded by a rumbling noise, followed in an instant by the hissing sound, and immediately the ball of fire, spitting and smoking, burst into full view, and before the people had time to collect their senses, the explosion occurred.”
1425 BC – Thutmose III, Pharaoh of Egypt, dies (according to the Low Chronology of the 18th Dynasty).
537 – Goths lay siege to Rome
1513 – Giovanni de’ Medici chosen Pope Leo X
1665 – New York approves new code guaranteeing Protestants religious rights
1669 – Volcano Etna in Italy erupts killing 15,000
1702 – First English daily newspaper “Daily Courant” publishes
1789 – Benjamin Banneker with L’Enfant begin to lay out Washington DC
1824 – US War Department creates the Bureau of Indian Affairs
1851 – Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Rigoletto” premieres in Venice
1862 – Lincoln removes General in Chief George McClellen.
After a disastrous defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, President lincoln named George McClellen as General-in-Chief of the Army. While effectively rebuilding the troops and gaining praise for his initiatives, it was his arrogance and contempt for political leaders that led to his firing by Lincoln. McClellan wrote to his wife that Lincoln was “nothing more than a well-meaning baboon,” and Secretary of State William Seward was an “incompetent little puppy.”
1867 – Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Don Carlos” premieres in Paris
1867 – Great Mauna Loa eruption
In 1888, from March 11th to 15th Maryland to Maine was buried underneath a fifty-inch blanket of snow. In New York City more than 200 perished in the extreme cold. In the icy darkness of night fires raged as helpless volunteers watched from afar, their teams trapped in the deep drifts that formed in the howling winds. Railroads were shut down and people confined to their houses for up to a week. Following the storm, New York began placing its telegraph and telephone infrastructure underground to prevent future destruction. Drifts across the New York–New Haven rail line took eight days to clear. (wikipedia)
1888 – Great blizzard of ’88 strikes northeastern US
1897 – A meteorite enters the earth’s atmosphere and explodes over New Martinsville, West Virginia.The debris causes damage but no human injuries are reported.
1918 – Moscow becomes capital of revolutionary Russia
1942 – First deportation train leaves Paris for Auschwitz Concentration Camp
1953 – American B-47 accidentally drops a nuclear bomb 15,000 feet on Mars Bluff, South Carolina; it created a crater 75 feet acrosss, but the nuclear core did not detonate, due to 6 safety catches.
1982 – Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat sign peace treaty in Washington DC
1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev replaces Konstantin Chernenko as Soviet leader
1988 – British pound note ceases to be legal tender, replaced by one pound coin
2004 – Terrorists explode simultaneous bombs on Madrid’s rail network ripping through a commuter train and rocking three stations, killing 190
2011 – An earthquake measuring 9.0 in magnitude strikes 80 miles east of Japan, triggering a tsunami killing thousands of people and triggering the second largest nuclear accident in history.
2013 – North Korea cuts the phone line with South Korea, breaching the 1953 armistice