Imagine warming your hands at a campfire that is also lighting up a Christmas tree in DUMBO.
What’s going on here?
Have you ever felt a regular light bulb after it has been on for a while? It’s hot because a side effect of using electricity is that some of the energy is wasted as heat. Unless the heat produced is hot enough to boil water, producing steam that can turn turbines, it is typically wasted. However, an innovative technology called a Peltier Junction can use the difference in temperature between two surfaces to create an electric current. It is this technology that’s used in the Biolite stoves to generate electricity with which you can charge your phone or power Christmas lights.
What implications does this technology have?
Fuel Reduction: Transforming waste heat into electricity allows a more sustainable combustion of wood. The electricity produced powers a fan that improves combustion, reducing the fuel needs by 40%. Increasing fuel efficiency represents a needed innovation because one of the major issues with using wood as a renewable resource is overharvesting. At Freshkills we have embraced other forms of renewable energy by transforming the landfill gas produced into methane that heats ~22,000 Staten Island homes and by planning to install the city’s largest solar array.
Human Health: The stove produces 90% less smoke, which can improve air quality and decrease health risks. By using profits from their camp stove to subsidize low-cost home stoves, the Brooklyn-based company has started to make this off the grid technology available in several developing countries. Imagine the impact this could have in places where woman have to walk miles to gather wood, wood burning is often done in enclosed huts, and there is limited access to electricity.
The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its cleanup plan for Gowanus Canal. The Brooklyn Canal, bound by Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, was declared a Superfund site in 2010 and communities have long been pushing for its cleanup.
Judith A. Enck, the EPA Regional Administrator, said:
“The cleanup plan announced today by the EPA will reverse the legacy of water pollution in the Gowanus. The plan is a comprehensive, scientifically-sound roadmap to turn this urban waterway into a community asset once more.”
One-hundred and fifty years of industrial activity has left the waterway filled with PCBs, PAHs, coal tar waste, heavy metals and volatile organics, and poisoned both the water and fish. The cleanup will take 8 to 10 years and, even then, swimming and fishing would be ill-advised. However, the effort initiates a process of ecological revitalization and sets a precedent that holds companies accountable for their actions.
If this federal decision pulls through, its long term benefits, in terms of residential health and re-investment in the NY Harbor area, are immense.
On September 29th, Freshkills Park opened its gates to the public for the fourth annual Sneak Peak event and attracted 3,500 people, a steady increase from previous years.
They came on bikes, on ferries, and in cars; with family, with friends. A girl from Brooklyn says, “This is a strange place. It does not feel like we are in the city at all.” Indeed, the tall yellow grass, the rolling hills, and the hawks in the sky seemed like neither the city nor the previous landfill site.
In the central area, a miniature horse pulled kids around for five minute rides. The goats that helped eat the site’s invasive phragmites, bleated at passerby. Families lounged on wooden-crates, as Staten Island artists transformed the stone bridge with spray paint. In the distance, a giant rock wall supported climbers of all ages; kayakers took boats into the river.
For a quieter experience, people trekked to the Overlook, a high point where they could see the Manhattan skyline. Or, on a steeper path, they climbed to the top of North Mound and flew Freshkills Park kites.
Art, nature, food and clear skies: we couldn’t have asked for a better day! Now, to start planning for next year’s Sneak Peak… In any case, stay posted on Freshkills Park happenings, and if you missed Sneak Peak this year, there’s always next year. Park tours are also available from April to November:
Bush Terminal Piers Park is slated to open this October, the new waterfront park is located between 43rd to 51st Streets in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Sandwiched between modernized industrial parcels along the waterfront, the park was designed by AECOM. The new park will provide the residents of nearby neighborhoods the first new open space in the area in decades.
Bush Terminal was a historic integrated manufacturing and shipping complex throughout much of the twentieth century. By the 1970s the site where the park is located was abandoned and contaminants found in the soil discouraged redevelopment. In 2007 the NYC Economic Development Corporation launched Sunset Park Vision Plan, a plan to reinvigorate sections of the industrial waterfront as well as provide increased public access and open space.
Following the (completed) brownfield remediation effort, the park will feature numerous sustainable elements including designated spaces for environmental education, urban reforestation, wetland restoration, and the installation of various types of stormwater management infrastructure. Additionally, Bush Terminal Pier Park will have three turf playing fields, a sloping lawn, picnic areas, walkways, and concession stands (Source via Curbed).
Freshkills Park is another example of land transformation and reuse of a brownfield. Like Bush Terminal Piers Park, Freshkills Park is committed to implementing sustainable practices and engaging the public with exciting recreational opportunities as well as providing educational information about the site and its history. Currently two areas of Freshkills Park are open, Schuml Park and Owl Hollow playing fields. Both areas incorporate many sustainable elements, check them out!
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.
Solar power is a growing energy source on Staten Island. Freshkills Park, already an alternative energy source from the methane harvested at the site, will be using solar power for many of its structures in the future. But the future is here at an office building on Edward Curry Avenue in Bloomfield in the form of solar panels that provide shade for your parked car. No more searching for the only tree in the parking lot, now shady parking spots are created by solar panels that are working double duty: producing energy and providing shade.
The solar panels, installed by American Solar Partners, shelter 25 cars and provide roughly 5% of the power for the 80,000 square foot office building. The office building has other energy saving and resource conserving systems that earned it an Energy Star Rating, such as occupancy sensors, LED lighting and motorized solar shades that move with the position of the sun throughout the day.
The permitting process has begun for a North Park Photovoltaic Shade Structure which will provide shade for visitors sitting on benches while also generating energy for the overhead lights throughout the parking lot.
Links to similar stories:
City requires portion of energy to come from solar: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Lancaster-CA-Becomes-First-US-City-to-Require-Solar\
More on solar parking lots: http://cleantechnica.com/2010/08/03/solar-power-transforms-parking-lots-into-green-job-generators/
Freshkills Park CELEBRATES National Poetry Month
April is National Poetry Month which means it is time for the fifth annual Freshkills Park Haiku Contest! We will be celebrating by asking you to share your impressions, experiences, thoughts and ideas of what Freshkills Park is, will be, and what it means to you- in haiku form. A haiku is a type of poem written in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables for a total of 17 syllables. For example, here is one of our winners from a previous year:
The bike paths I will ride on
My old love letters
Email your haiku, along with your name and age to email@example.com by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 29th
Prizes will be awarded to the top youth winner as well as the top three adult winners. If you are under 18, please indicate that you are submitting as a youth entrant. Submit for a chance to receive exclusive Freshkills Park merchandise. To learn more about Freshkills Park and to stay up to date on the latest news, visit the Freshkills Park Blog at www.freshkillspark.wordpress.com and ‘like’ us on Facebook.
Canal Park in Washington DC, situated between the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, was originally a canal before it was paved over in the early 1900’s for a multitude of uses, including use as a lot for idling buses. The area was converted into a park in 2000 and shortly thereafter, in 2004, the non-profit Canal Park Development Association sponsored a sustainable park design competition for the site. OLIN, a landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm was selected to design the park.
Construction on Canal Park began in 2010 and the park opened in November 2012. The new design includes many sustainable, innovative features. Among these are underground cisterns that collect “grey water” runoff from the park and neighboring blocks to be reused in park fountains, toilets, ice skating pond and irrigation. Additionally, geothermal wells have been installed to provide heating and cooling in park amenities.
The transformation of Freshkills Park involves a similar commitment to sustainability. The Owl Hollow Fields, under construction at Freshkills Park, will have a geothermal-energy-heated, green-roofed comfort station designed by Sage & Coombe. Schmul Park, which opened in 2012 and is located in the Travis neighborhood of Staten Island, also includes many sustainable features. The comfort station designed by BKSK Architects features a rain garden and throughout the park there are native plantings and permeable pavement in order to mitigate surface stormwater runoff.
Both Freshkills and Canal Park are model examples of 21st century sustainable parks.
(via City Parks Blog)
(all images copyright : JD)
(image source: American Forests)
The conservation group American Forests has just released a ranking of the top 10 best U.S. cities for urban forests, and New York City made the list! After an independent collection of data on the 50 most populous American cities, a panel of technical advisors from the U.S. Forest Service ranked the cities based on their overall commitment to improving and expanding urban forests, green infrastructure, and environmental resources.
The top cities were selected because they recognize the important roles that trees play beyond beautifying urban landscapes. Among the other parameters considered by the U.S. Forest Service were community engagement around urban forests, new developments in energy conservation and stormwater management, and public access to green spaces.
“These 10 cities are examples of the type of dedication and leadership needed to improve the health and vitality of urban forests in some of the largest cities in the U.S.,” says Scott Steen, CEO of American Forests. “Whether it is achieving cleaner air and water, managing stormwater, reducing energy usage or stemming erosion, no two cities have worked exactly the same way to achieve their place on our top 10 list, but they each serve as a role model for others.”
New York City, which is more than half way to its goal of one million trees planted by 2017, has nearly 20% of its 300 square miles of land covered by parks like Freshkills Park and Central Park. With all of this green space it is estimated that more than 2,000 tons of pollution is removed from the air each year, a value of $10.6 million. New York’s commitment to providing easy access to green space is an example of the city’s dedication to sustainability, health, and the overall well-being of the people.
Schmul Park was officially opened yesterday. This reconstructed neighborhood park is the first portion of Freshkills Park to open to the public. The reconstructed Schmul Park now features a colorful playground, new handball and basketball courts, a grass lawn, and a modern comfort station. The park design incorporated many sustainable elements including low maintenance landscaping with native plant species, reduced energy and water consumption in the comfort station, and stormwater best management practices, including permeable pavements and a rain garden. Schmul Park will serve as the neighborhood entrance to Freshkills Park for the Travis community.