The report describes a balanced energy strategy to reduce carbon impact, further climate resilience, promote green infrastructure, and improve quality of life in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx
NEW YORK, NY – The Urban Land Institute New York (ULI NY), in partnership with New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), today released a report, Energy Resilience for Hunts Point, with recommendations to help bring geothermal energy to “New York City’s Refrigerator” – the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center (HPFDC) in the South Bronx. This type of investment in resilient and sustainable energy could help reduce Hunts Point’s greenhouse gas emissions, improving air and environmental quality for a neighborhood with some of the highest asthma rates in the region. It would also promote regional food security and produce a utility cost savings of $6.2 million annually, among other benefits.
Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and in light of the recommendations of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Rebuild by Design (RbD) study that followed, NYCEDC, which oversees leaseholds and capital improvements to the HPFDC, identified the potential to bring sustainable and resilient energy production and food distribution to the HPFDC as a means to combat future severe weather events and rising sea levels. New York City hinges on the viability and reliability of the HPFDC, a network of distribution businesses located on the Hunts Point Peninsula in the Bronx that handles 4.5 billion pounds of food flow each year.
ULI NY, at the request of NYCEDC, convened a 7-member Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) in March to identify recommendations for identifying a resilient and sustainable energy source for Hunts Point. The TAP panel explored the viability of hydropower to generate additional energy for the HPFDC, reduce emissions on the peninsula, contribute to Hunts Point’s resilience in the face of future extreme weather events, and support the availability of affordable real estate in the HPFDC.
ULI NY’s panel of engineering, resilience, infrastructure, energy and design experts visited the study area, interviewed community stakeholders, analyzed existing conditions, and offered a series of recommendations for the implementation of geothermal energy as a viable addition to NYCEDC’s planned sustainable energy vision. ULI NY’s panel suggested a pathway forward for this vision via an energy audit to identify potential reductions in energy consumption, as well as validating EDC’s planned expansion of solar installations, and encouraged EDC to continue to pursue anaerobic digestion as an energy source and a more robust waste-reduction/recycling solution.
ULI NY believes that the recommendations from the TAP panel could also assist in aligning residents and businesses around the shared benefits of improved energy infrastructure and green infrastructure in Hunts Point. The strategy is designed to decrease energy usage throughout the HPFDC campus via increased energy efficiencies. The ULI NY panel suggested further improvements and best practices to extend this work, including:
- A geothermal strategy for Hunts Point leveraging its proximity to the water
- A conservation capital plan that utilizes a phasing and staging strategy to replace the outdated buildings throughout the HPFDC
- Highly-insulated façades
- Smart building technology
- Green roofs
This coordinated energy strategy proposes a new design vision for the HPFDC and surrounding community hinged along a spine of geothermal distribution along Hunts Point Avenue. Additional design and infrastructure considerations would include:
- Locating a pump station at the tip of the peninsula
- Expanding Hunts Point Landing Park and creating a signature building to house the pump station
- Utilizing the existing 24-foot underwater box culvert at Hunts Point Landing for a point of entry
- Utilizing the depths of the East River channel for the HPSE pipe
- Laying the foundation of the geothermal delivery system down Hunts Point Avenue to serve as the “tree” from which energy can branch to serve the Meat Market, the Fish Market, the Produce Market, the residential core, and beyond
“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. We are proud of our recommendations for geothermal energy and a Balanced Energy Strategy, which, upon implementation, could help the New York City Economic Development Corporation sustainably power the HPFDC while reducing its carbon footprint.”
“Protecting New York City from the threat of climate change requires big ideas and community-focused planning,” said Winthrop Hoyt, Senior Vice President, NYCEDC Asset Management. “ULI NY’s recommendations to explore geothermal energy as an additional renewable energy source amplify NYCEDC’s vision for a resilient campus that could protect the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center from the impact of climate change and will help safeguard residents in this South Bronx community.”
“Our goal for this TAP was to support NYCEDC’s vision for a sustainable HPFDC cooling project that reduces overall costs to the City and the community,” said ULI NY Chairman Steven Kohn, Vice Chairman, Cushman & Wakefield. “This recommendation, which integrates experts in real estate and energy planning, is a great example of how ULI NY’s TAP program allows expert land use professionals to volunteer their time to provide advice and solutions to a community’s largest land use issues.”
With respect to its installation at Hunts Point, the site characteristics align nicely with the requirements for geothermal technology and the energy produced by such an installation could provide NYCEDC and the HPFDC with a hedge against future increases in electricity rates by producing energy at a lower rate.
A full copy of the report is available here <https://ulidigitalmarketing.blob.core.windows.net/ulidcnc/2019/09/5d76573d104a0-5d76573d104a1Hunts-Point-TAP-Report-Final-Web.pdf.pdf>.
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.