The Sims Municipal Recycling Facility will open soon on the Brooklyn waterfront, providing countless environmental benefits. The large in-city recycling center will be able to process 20,000 tons of recyclables a month; for comparison, at its peak Freshkills received 29,000 tons of trash every day. While it might seem like a drop in the bucket, having a recycling center on the Brooklyn waterfront where loads can come in by barge will save the Department of Sanitation 260,000 miles of truck route every year. That’s equivalent to a sanitation truck driving over ten times around the earth. Reduced truck miles will help with traffic congestion, improve air quality, and decrease fossil fuel emissions.
Beyond the environmental benefits of constructing a new recycling center, the design of the building reflects a focus on sustainability derived from a practice what you preach attitude. The building is constructed using over 90% recycled steel. The roof boasts the current largest solar array in the city, generating 500kW of energy (enough to power about 150 homes). The design firm, Selldorf Architects, even included a spot of green space in their design by incorporating trees and bioswales to capture storm water runoff.
The buildings purpose and design coalesce to make it an incredible opportunity for environmental education. The facility “include[s] an education center that wasn’t just a repurposed closet with an instructional video to torture captive schoolchildren.” With classroom space and cat walks through the plant, students will have the opportunity to experience the process of recycling first hand. Hopefully, some of these students will become champions of recycling and help us build a more sustainable New York City.
Prospect Park is building a composting toilet and putting to use an obsolete building. The Pump House, an unused building tucked away in the center of the park, is not connected to the New York City sewer system so traditional restrooms are not possible but with park use on the rise more restroom facilities are needed, especially in this more remote area of the park.
The toilets will not look or smell unusual, the noticeable difference is that special foam is used to flush. Christian Zimmerman, lead landscape architect at the Prospect Park Alliance, expects that the composted waste will be removed every five years and taken to a landfill, although he hopes that the laws prohibiting the use of this manure within the city will change in the near future. By utilizing composting technology the park is able to provide an amenity where it was needed most while also helping the city reduce the volume of sewage sent to the treatment plants.
The number of composting toilets is on the rise in New York City; The Bronx Zoo, the Queens Botanical Garden, and the Hollenback Community Garden in Brooklyn are already using composting technology.
A composting toilet facility is in the plans at Freshkills Park which is one part of an array of sustainable practices used in the parks’ development.
The 2012 International Urban Parks Conference is around the corner! From July 14th-17th, park professionals, politicians and urban park advocates from around the world will attend “Greater & Greener: Reimagining Parks for 21st Century Cities,” held in New York City. The conference is presented by City Parks Alliance.
Freshkills Park will be a featured tour on July 14th from 2-5pm, along with tours throughout to other innovative New York City Department of Parks & Recreation parks. On July 15th & 16th, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) will be anonymously premiering the submissions to the 2012 LAGI design competition for a site within Freshkills Park.
GrowNYC, in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation and NYC Department of Education, is currently accepting applications New York City public schools for their 2012-2013 Recycling Champions Program. The program “aims to empower schools to comply with, and exceed, NYC’s recycling laws, and in the process students create school wide projects and campaigns, and learn environmental leadership skills.” Additionally, the Recycling Champions Program program seeks to advance NYC Department of Education Sustainability Initiative’s goal is to double the recycling rate at NYC public schools to 20% by 2013.
Apply by June 15th, 2012!
Starting this weekend, NYC Wildflower Week presents a terrific series of events focused on New York’s open space and rich native plant communities. To celebrate, our partners at the Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island are welcoming the public next Monday, May 14, on a tour of their facilities.
The Greenbelt Native Plant Center is the only municipal native plant nursery in the country. It is a 13-acre greenhouse, nursery, founder seed and seed bank complex owned and operated by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. Over the past fifteen years, the center has grown hundreds of thousands of specimens from locally collected seed of the city’s indigenous flora for use in restoration and replanting projects, and is currently developing bulk seed mixes for the city. The GNPC is a partner in the establishment of the first national native seed bank called Seeds of Success.
The tour is free and open to the public. Space is limited, so advance registration is encouraged.
Monday, May 14 | 10 am – 12 pm
Greenbelt Native Plant Center
GNPC Nursery | 38-08 Victory Blvd, Staten Island
Guide: Timothy Chambers, Nursery Manager, GNPC, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Register for the tour
Are you part of an organization looking to revitalize an outdoor space in a New York City neighborhood? The New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is looking to help transform existing open areas into gardens or green spaces with their Gardens for the City grant. NYRP will provide five groups with building materials and support in construction, horticulture, forestry and environmental education. Schools, community centers, and non-profits are encouraged to submit applications to transform property that is accessible to the public.
The February 15th deadline is fast approaching. Winners will be announced on March 1, 2012.
The Freshkills Park Talks lecture series continues next Tuesday with a presentation by elementary school science teacher Howard Warren. Out of sheer interest and commitment, Howard has become one of the City’s leading experts on the history and present condition of Barren Island and Dead Horse Bay, at the southeastern corner of Brooklyn. The area is well known by urban explorers for its ‘Bottle Beach’, where a 1950s landfill continues to spill its contents onto the shore to be combed over by amateur archeologists. But the island and the bay’s storis stretch much farther into the past of industrial Brooklyn than just the 1950s, and its current state is the object of ongoing discussions on ecological health and restoration. Howard has been bringing his students to study beach and the bay for over 20 years and has integrated its study in a variety of engaging environmental curricula, bringing students and their parents to the site to clean up the shore, collect fish for study, test the water chemistry and study artifacts. He’ll discuss the site’s history and politics and share lessons learned through long-term, collaborative investigation of the site and its secrets.
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 | 6:30-8pm
@ the Metropolitan Exchange
33 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn | 6th floor
FREE | No RSVP necessary
At NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, fall term students explored ideas relating to urban farming, phytoremediation systems and environmental data monitoring through a course entitled “Designing Living Systems.” Some of the student projects included a stepped indoor hydroponic farm, a bathroom phytoremediation device and a moss-covered structure with air monitoring capabilities. More information about these and other creative works is available on the school’s Living Systems website.
Waste services provider Waste Management‘s Think Green site is loaded with educational resources covering all kinds of garbage-related topics, from recycling basics to lesser-known protocols like mail-in recycling programs for batteries and light bulbs and proper disposal of e-waste. The site also hosts a collection of short, informative PDF files that illuminate some of the processes involved in engineering closed landfill sites: the dynamics of a gas extraction well, anatomy of a landfill, and workings of a leachate collection system (though it should be noted that the Fresh Kills Landfill is managed and operated by the New York City Department of Sanitation, not Waste Management, and the precise infrastructure of each site is different). The graphics and descriptive text presented here are simple and clear, and a useful resource for all ages to read up on landfill and waste management operations.
A follow-up (or preface) to Dana Gumb’s lecture: as part of its series of sustainable design videos (including the brownfield remediation piece we featured recently), the American Society of Landscape Architects has produced an animated video on designing landscapes to assist in stormwater management. The clip communicates the benefits of green roofs, permeable pavement, and bioswales—three of the most important infrastructural components in sustainable stormwater management. It’s a short and clear introduction to the topic.
(via The Dirt)