by Gary Axelbank
September 11, 2019
On the heels of last month’s FEMA report that lists Bronx County as one of the 30 least climate change-resilient counties in the nation and ongoing concerns about south Bronx air quality, the Urban Land Institute New York (ULI NY). in partnership with New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), is recommending a new way of delivering energy to “New York City’s Refrigerator” – the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center (HPFDC) in the south Bronx. Experts say that local communities can benefit from the Market’s energy conversion as well.
This week ULI released a report, Energy Resilience for Hunts Point, that proposes investment in resilient and sustainable geothermal technology that they say could help reduce Hunts Point’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality for an area with some of the highest asthma rates in the region. It would also promote regional food security and save an estimated $6.2 million annually.
To put the plan together, in March NYCEDC asked ULI NY, to convene a seven-member Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) who set about interviewing numerous stake holders in and around Hunts Point and the Food Market.
In addition to contributing to the sustainability of the Market and reducing the carbon footprint, TAP members think this new look at Hunts Point energy production can positively affect the entire peninsula, residences included. They see it as win/win situation.
“Geothermal energy can help mitigate the current demands put on the Hunts Point energy network by the HPFDC while also providing additional energy to the peninsula,” said Shay Alster, Principal at GF55 Architects LLP and Chair for this TAP. “Thanks to advances in geothermal technology over the past few years, there are minimal risks, minimal environmental impact, and minimal systems maintenance.”
Paul Lipson, the principal of Barretto Bay Strategies, has been a fierce advocate for sustainability in Hunts Point and he agrees that new technologies are the way to go.
“Anything that does not require fossil fuel inputs is worthy of exploration, especially in a place that consumes so much energy for refrigeration like the food distribution center,” he told thisistheBronX.
He pointed out that while cost considerations to pay for renewable technology is an issue to be reckoned with – estimates for this program are at $55 million – those can be addressed with NYSERDA grants and other public subsidies.
Lipson said that the notion of applying cutting-edge energy technology to more than just the Food Center on Hunts Point has been a central part of environmental advocacy in the south Bronx.
“If we can align the needs of the distribution center with the critical imperatives of the residential community, we’ve really achieved something,” he said. “We have this opportunity to solve resiliency, not just for the business community, but also for the residential community.”
Turning the geothermal proposal into reality is in EDC’s hands. To move it forward they would have to have to decide to build into their budget. They did not return thisistheBronX calls for comment.
About the Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs) Program
The objective of ULI New York’s Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs) program is to provide expert, multidisciplinary, and objective advice on land use and real estate issues facing local governments, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations throughout New York State. Drawing from its extensive membership base, ULI New York conducts one- and two-day panels offering unbiased, pragmatic solutions, best practice advice, and market-based strategies to local decision-makers on a wide variety of complex land use challenges, ranging from site-specific projects to public policy questions. The TAPs program is intentionally flexible to provide a customized approach to specific land use and real estate issues.
About the Urban Land Institute New York
ULI New York provides leadership in the responsible use of land and in the creation of sustainable, thriving communities. ULI New York promotes an open exchange of ideas, information, and experience among industry leaders and policy makers dedicated to creating better neighborhoods. ULI offers in-depth analysis of current land use issues and educates real estate professionals on the impact of land use policies on the state’s future. The organization also invests in the professional and personal development of the next generation of community and real estate industry leaders. ULI New York carries out, at the local level, the mission of ULI, a global non-profit headquartered in Washington D.C with more than 40,000 members worldwide. For more information, visit https://newyork.uli.org/.
About NYC Economic Development Corporation
New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City’s primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC’s mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City’s competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City’s many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.