The Sewage Treatment Plant that Grew a Park

It’s a park.

It’s a sewage treatment plant.

I can’t see a sewage treatment plant.

That’s because there’s a park on top of it.

The North River Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility processes 125 million gallons of wastewater every day during dry weather, and up to 340 million gallons a day when the weather is wet. It serves most of the West Side from Greenwich Village to Inwood Hill. Construction from 137th – 145th Street on the West Side Highway was completed in 1991.

Enter renowned architect Philip Johnson (Glass House, Seagram’s Building, 550 Madison Avenue, Lipstick Building) who first suggested a park be built over the plant. By 1993, it was.

Riverbank State Park is 28 green acres that includes sports surfaces, an Olympic-size swimming pool, skating rink, 800-seat theater, 2,500-seat athletic complex, restaurant and – here’s another piece of trivia for you – the largest green roof in New York City with plantings and trees in soil as deep as 35 feet.

The latest news: Work is underway on a $300 million project to install new, cleaner-burning co-generation engines at the wastewater facility. When completed, there will be close to a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, comparable to planting nearly 70,000 trees.

Read all about it here:

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Photo: Wikipedia

By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C, President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

According to a Neilson survey, millennials and Gen Z are the first generations willing to pay more for sustainable products. Today’s young woman buying make-up will want to know if the product is tested on animals, the ingredients, if this in sync with her values. It’s part of the farm to table food trend, Fair Trade coffee, if a shirt is made in a sweatshop or hand-made of locally-sourced organic cotton. In short, it’s decisions being made based on whether a product hurts or helps an environment and its people.

         Now take that mindset and think about the intense, current competition among companies to attract, motivate and retain young talent. What will they need to offer in its company policies, buildings and offices? Here’s a look at the sustainable future world of buildings and offices:

·       Decreases in the use of drywall and interior space divisions in favor of increased daylight, shared spaces, communal workspaces and attractive exposed meeting spaces.

·       Growth of biophilic design that reconnects people in the built environment to the natural environment. It’s much more than adding some plants to the lobby or office. It is about the beneficial effects on mind and body of being surrounded by natural elements including views, daylight, natural textures and materials, water features and greenery.

·       The emergence of quiet, meditative, restful spaces where employees can reduce stress and, thereby, increase productivity. These include specialized indoor spaces as well as roof gardens and terraces.

·       Supporting local businesses and making a difference in communities, providing a sense of communal goals as a part of sustainable corporate business practices.

·       Smarter, more specialized technology. We may not have Alexa at every desk, but we may have individually-controlled lighting, temperatures and voice-activation.

More and more baby boomers are retiring, intensifying the competition for younger workers. As companies develop their own sustainability strategies, building owners must also push the envelope of a property’s marketable sustainability features to attract forward-thinking tenants.

The times are indeed ‘a-changin’. Only companies with a death wish will ignore the clarion call for the new age of sustainability.

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By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C, President, Metropolitan Valuation Services