Volume 19 Issue 51 | May 4 -10, 2007

Rebuilding agencies win green award

By Skye H. McFarlane

From simple solutions like green inspection stickers to high-tech filters and fuels, the public construction projects Downtown have used a wide variety of techniques to make the resurgence of Lower Manhattan a little greener.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recognized those efforts last Thursday, awarding six Downtown rebuilding agencies with a collective Environmental Quality Award. According to the E.P.A., the Quality Awards recognize “individuals and organizations for their outstanding efforts to protect the environment.” The group of agencies was one of 16 statewide honorees and one of four winners in the “Government or Agency” category.

“We’re very proud of the program we put in place,” Charles Maikish, the president of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, said in a telephone interview. The command center shared in the award for its role in coordinating Downtown’s large-scale construction projects and enforcing the projects’ compliance with environmental agreements. “To get recognition is very good thing. It makes everyone in the office feel somewhat appreciated.”

The agencies — including the command center, the Federal Transit Administration, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the New York State Department of Transportation and the Port Authority — were rewarded specifically for their Environmental Performance Commitments program.

Through a combination of legislation and voluntary agreements, the Downtown program requires participants to use less toxic ultra low sulfur diesel fuel in their on-site construction vehicles. Where possible, construction sites must use emissions filters on their trucks, conserve water and energy during building operations, and limit truck idling to three minutes. The agencies must also work to control dust, noise and vibrations.

The environmental promises apply to several major projects Downtown, including the foundation work and Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center, the revamping of West St. and the construction of the train stations at South Ferry, Fulton St. and the W.T.C.

Maikish said that he was particularly proud of the command center’s air monitoring program, which established baselines for air quality before heavy construction began. Now the monitors can tell inspectors if there is an unhealthy spike in airborne contaminants. The monitor data is also posted at

In addition to policing air quality, the L.M.C.C.C. coordinates a team of field inspectors who check up on things like truck equipment (a passing grade means a green sticker) and idling times. Maikish, who recently announced that he will be leaving the command center in July, said that the hard environmental work is only beginning. As the days get hotter and drier this summer, he said, the agencies will have to work harder to keep dust and fumes under control.

“It’s not going to be easy, but right now we’ve got our arms around it and we’re working hard to keep this a viable, vibrant community,” Maikish said.

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