In a bold piece of legislation, New York City will reduce its waste by one third by requiring that, by 2015, restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial food generators send all of their organic waste, including food scraps, to either a compost facility or an anaerobic digester. The 1.2 million tons of organic waste diverted each year under this new program is no drop in the bucket, it is more than the annual waste produced in Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and D.C. and it will contribute to the goal to double the city’s current recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017. “All eyes are on New York,” said Samantha MacBride, the city’s former deputy director of recycling and now assistant public policy professor at Baruch College. Organic waste recycling, she said, is the “holy grail of sustainable waste management in my view,” as reported by Gotham Gazette.
New York City has a head start on this program with a pilot program that converts residential and school food waste and organics into clean renewable energy at the anaerobic digester in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The new bill, sponsored by Councilwoman Deborah Rose of Staten Island, provides the scale necessary to make this process cost effective for businesses and motivate private development of organics processing infrastructure for the New York metropolitan area. After its start as a pilot project in 90 public schools, the organic waste recycling program is now being tested with city agencies, single family homes in the Westerleigh section of Staten Island (where, after only a few months, participation rates are above 50 percent) and in two Manhattan high-rise developments.
“We spend over $85 million a year sending food waste to landfills, so there’s a major cost,” said Ron Gonen, New York City’s deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability, who heads up the composting program. He told Yale environment360 that so far the program is collecting at a pace on the order of “tens of thousands” of tons per year. “It’s growing every day,” said Gonen. “We’re going to continue to expand, in all five boroughs.” By 2014 the program will cover around 100,000 households. In addition to the food waste recycling pilot, the city has partnered with our friends at GrowNYC to begin food scrap collection at green markets throughout the five boroughs. Interested households who are not in the pilot areas for collection can bring their food waste to sites across the city for composting at community gardens and other environmental programs.
By the bill’s extension to the commercial sector, the City expects the residential sector to be better served, lowering disposal fees by circumventing landfills and providing local clean renewable energy generation, local jobs and environmental protection.
Learn more about tours of the Newtown Creek Digester Eggs through Openhousenewyork!
The Arsenal Gallery at Central Park will host Freshkills Park on Wednesday July 10th at 6:00 p.m. as Angelyn Chandler, Capital Program Manager at Freshkills Park, discusses the park’s history and future plans. The event is free and part of the Land Art Generator Institute exhibition, please RSVP with email@example.com . Join us and learn more about the development if this world-class park!
In an attempt to draw attention to the dearth of greenspace and poor air quality in the region, the nonprofit VerdMX has constructed three ecostructures throughout Mexico City. One such structure is a vertical garden of over 50,000 plants.
Formerly notorious for its poor air quality, Mexico City is now an example of successful campaigns by policy makers, environmentalists, and various other groups to improve the city’s air. The VerdMX structures aim to generate interest in the movement while improving the air at the same time. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, 30, architect of the sculptures states that “it’s a way to intervene in the environment.”
The burgeoning entrepreneurial, environmental, and arts scenes in the capital city have given rise to numerous small-scale efforts. Though sometimes met with hesitation, such projects are becoming commonplace as citizens recognize the importance of maintaining environmental health in the megacity.
(via New York Times)
The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 have announced NYC-based design firm HWKN as the winner of the annual Young Architects Program (YAP). The eye-popping project, titled Wendy, is composed of nylon fabric treated with a nano-particle spray that will neutralize airborne pollutants. Over the course of its summer installation period, Wendy will clean the air to an equivalent of taking 260 cars off the road.
Now in its 13th year, YAP has challenged emerging architects and designers to develop concepts for a temporary, outdoor installation to be displayed in PS1′s outdoor courtyard, working within guidelines that address environmental issues. Wendy will be up between Late June and September 2012. An exhibition of the five finalists’ designs from this year’s YAP will be on view at MoMA over the summer.
The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) team recently announced the release of their Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies, a free resource they hope will prove useful to “all designers, homeowners, urban planners, students, artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers, and anyone else interested in a clean energy future”.
The 70-page document provides dozens of renewable energy generation technologies within major categories such as solar, wind, water and biomass. This first edition defines each system and provides its conversion efficiency when applicable; a second edition will include pros and cons, lifecycle carbon costs, and more detailed diagrams of the technologies.
The guide should come in handy for those working on the 2012 LAGI design competition, which of course is being held for a site within Freshkills Park.
Dwell profiles Freshkills Park in its March 2011 “We Love New York” issue. Land Use and Outreach Manager Carrie Grassi features as the story’s heroine, speaking candidly about the site’s transformation. The writing and narrative of this piece, in particular, really resonate with our experience of the site and its shifting identity: it has a storied and contentious past, yes, and it makes for a complex sell, but it is also enormously beautiful, always evolving and full of such promise that it pushes us on in support of an ambitious vision.
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has won an international competition to design a new waste-to-energy plant for Copenhagen, Denmark. BIG’s winning entry—which will actually be built and will replace the existing Amagerforbraending plant—improbably caps the huge new facility with a public ski slope. The firm’s design focuses on what it calls “Hedonistic Sustainability – the idea that sustainability is not a burden, but that a sustainable city in fact can improve our quality of life.” Bunny hills, downhill slopes and moguls, designed by Topotek 1 & Man Made Land, will be built into the roof of the building, which will be covered in a ‘recycled synthetic granular’ material instead of snow. The building’s facade will be made up a grid of planters and windows that will make it resemble a mountain from a distance.
The waste-to-energy operation is not expected to release complex or poisonous gases into the the atmosphere, but its smoke stack will release carbon dioxide and water vapor in the form of smoke rings, one ring to mark each ton of carbon dioxide released into the environment. A lucid description of goals and design of the building is available on BIG’s site. Construction is expected to be complete by 2016.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced its 2011 Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design, recognizing “distinguished achievements that involve the expanding role of the architect in urban design, regional and city planning, and community development.” Honored projects are a design for expansion of Beijing’s Central Business District; a plan for reducing the carbon footprint of Chicago’s building stock; a re-stitching of neighborhood fabric in Louisville, Kentucky; a Low Impact Development design manual; a plan for walkability in Farmington, Arkansas; and the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, a public open space system designed to slow, absorb and filter surface water runoff in Brooklyn. More than 700 submissions were received and 27 projects won awards.
(via The Dirt)
This year’s ONE PRIZE—an annual design and science award to promote green design in cities—is being awarded through a design competition centered around the development of New York City’s “sixth borough,” its bodies of water. Organized by Terreform 1 and Planetary One, the competition aims to advance the City’s potential to develop the world’s largest urban clean technology corridor along its waterways and water bodies, as well its capacity to host a clean tech world expo in 2014. Submissions are to make proposals for both a ‘blue’ transportation network—”a series of green transit hubs incorporating electric passenger ferries, water taxis, bike shares, electric car-share and electric shuttle buses”—and one zone of the expo.
In addition to exposure and participation in the Expo, the winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize. Registration closes April 30th, and Submissions are due May 31st. More details are available in the competition brief.
Open House New York, the weekend look inside what are normally closed doors of New York City’s architectural and design fascinatia, takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 9th and 10th this year. Volunteers are needed. Volunteers would assist with the weekend’s many programs, including tours, site-specific performances and discussions. Shifts are approximately four hours long and require a training session. Volunteers will also be able to skip the line at any non-reservation only event. Sites opened for the weekend in the past have included the High Bridge Water Tower, the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, the Grand Lodge of Masons on 23rd Street in Manhattan and a host of architects’ offices, private homes and institutions across the five boroughs, including Freshkills Park, which will participate for its fourth consecutive year.