Volume 20, Number 43 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 20 - 26, 2010
The environment takes center stage for C.B. 1
BY Aline Reynolds
All things “green” were on the agenda at a Community Board 1 Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee last week.
Diana Pangestu, an energy program consultant at Science Applications International Corporation, gave a presentation on a state-run program that gives developers and business owners economic incentives to make their buildings energy efficient.
Developers embarking on new construction projects, along with renovations of commercial spaces that are vacant for 30 days or more, are eligible for funding.
“As a developer, you’re really building for the long-term by reducing operating costs and maintenance fees,” Pangestu said. “It’s also good for the environment and for people’s health.”
Residential developers have to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification to apply.
“They have to demonstrate to us how they’re planning to do that,” said Jeffrey Gordon, a spokesperson for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Each building could receive up to $1.65 million for capital and equipment expenditures. Examples include lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems — which could reduce a building’s energy output by nearly half the amount it would otherwise expend, Pangestu said.
A state official visits the site and provides an energy analysis of the building to evaluate potential energy savings in kilowatts, and the S.A.I.C. offers free consulting to developers and businesses interested in the program.
“We have to find out how to approach these developers,” said Michael Levine, C.B. 1 district manager.
Seven World Trade Center and the U.S. Custom House (in Bowling Green) have both received financial compensation for their green building efforts. Pier A in Battery Park City, another candidate for funding, will have a lease signed by fall 2013, among other Downtown developments. The S.A.I.C. will be working with the infrastructure committee to spread the word about the program around Downtown.
“We want to do more aggressive marketing to increase the number of applications,” Pangestu said.
“Could the money be applied to changing the [building’s] fuel?” inquired Tom Goodkind, C.B. 1 board member. Gordon replied, “No.”
Goodkind pointed out that a building’s future tenants are typically responsible for keeping energy costs down.
“I’m not sure what can be done to make the [financial] incentive more meaningful,” said Goodkind.
“It doesn’t have the enforcement power [upon] landlords to change the equipment,” Pangestu replied. “It’s a baby step towards that direction.”
Meanwhile, C.B. 1 members are planning to do an inventory of green and open public spaces in the Downtown community. “We want to figure out how much space there actually is, and what the best use would be of the existing space,” Levine said.
“We’re talking about Pier 25, the East River [esplanade] and Historic Battery Park,” said Jeff Galloway, Chair of the Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee.
The committee will also be looking into public programming in Hudson River Park.
“I think we really need to be proactive and insist on having the community involved in how these parks are used,” he said. Galloway noted that the committee is not just looking into green spaces, but public seating areas as well.
Levine, who teaches urban planning to undergraduates at Pace University, is getting his students in on the action. “We’ll ask the class to do an inventory of all the green spaces everywhere south of Canal [Street],” Levine said.
“We may very well want to entertain their suggestions as [people] not living and breathing community issues,” Galloway said.
He visited Levine’s class this and last week to talk to the students about the project.
“We don’t know everything we have out there now, that’s the problem,” Levine explained. “Before we look into programming, we first we need to know what’s out there.”
The committee is also looking into public and open space on Governor’s Island. “I don’t see how we could talk about recreational green space in the district without taking account of Governor’s Island,” Galloway said.
“It’s huge asset – it’s so big, it almost needs to be considered on its own,” chimed in committee member Anthony Notaro. The committee brought up the possibility of lobbying for sports practice space on the Island.
They are also investigating the use of the Battery Park City ball fields, which is slated to open in Fall 2011, in time for soccer season. “The ball fields can in no way handle the recreational needs of the Lower Manhattan community,” said Galloway, chair of the C.B. 1 Ball Fields Task Force. “We need to survey the area and see if there are other places for the kids to practice.”
Levine said the committee would look into recreational uses of the space other than baseball. So it could free up space for recreation.
“We hope to have the complete findings at the end of December or early January,” Levine said after the meeting.