green Earth

Port Authority Marks Earth Day with Improved Environmental Performance at Its Facilities

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is integrating innovative “green” practices into daily operations at its ports, airports, tunnels and bridges and the PATH system, to preserve and protect the environment while serving the critical transportation needs of the region.

The Port Authority seeks to minimize operational impact on the environment by focusing on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, improved energy and water management and the use of “clean” technology and services, according to the agency. These practices are designed to conserve natural resources, drive sustainable planning and development and establish key performance indicators and measures.

“The Port Authority is committed to celebrating Earth Day 365 days a year by integrating sustainable design and practices into our facilities and operations,” said Christine Weydig, the Port Authority’s Director of the Office of Environmental and Energy Programs (OEEP). “Our ongoing sustainability efforts not only improve our environmental performance, but result in significant operational and maintenance savings.”

The agency’s energy efficiency efforts, which include equipment upgrades at the George Washington and Goethals bridges, Outerbridge Crossing (OBX) and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels are estimated to save approximately $6 million each year. Such efforts are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 25,000 tons each year, the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars off the road. Many of these improvements enhance public spaces, such as AirTrain stations, parking lots, terminals and even the Lincoln Tunnel, with approximately 2,300 new, highly efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

Working with its valued partners, the Port Authority created a landmark Clean Air Strategy for the Port of NY and NJ that lays out practical, voluntary actions to reduce port-related diesel and greenhouse gas emissions.  Actions under the Clean Air Strategy for the port resulted in an average 41.5-percent reduction in air pollutants and 37.3 percent of all pollutants since 2006, despite a 13-percent increase in cargo volume. Additionally, ExpressRail, the Port’s on-dock rail service, set a new record in 2015 by handling 522,244 containers, which is the equivalent of nearly 800,000 displaced truck trips.

Among other key Port Authority projects under way are energy efficiency upgrades and solar installations at Stewart International Airport (SWF) and PATH facilities. In its effort to increase renewable and on-site power generation, the agency recently installed 400-kilowatts of solar generation at SWF and the PATH system’s Harrison Car Maintenance Facility, which brings the agency’s on-site solar generation to over 1 megawatt.

Stewart Airport has also updated its Sustainable Management Plan, building on a legacy of environmental stewardship. The original plan, released in 2010, was one of the first in the country for an airport. The update includes proposed initiatives to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions — developing solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations, installing other solar power sources, and expanding improvements to airfield lighting and signage efficiency.

In addition to the updated Sustainable Management Plan for Stewart, the Port Authority issued its first comprehensive Airport Sustainability Report, covering activities for all five of its airports in 2014. The report highlights the Port Authority’s biofuel partnership with KLM and its airport terminal composting programs, as well as comprehensive metrics consistent with the Global Reporting Initiative.

A microgrid feasibility study is also under way at Stewart to explore increased energy independence and resiliency during emergencies or future extreme weather events. A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously.

“Through our annual greenhouse gas inventory and other metrics, OEEP actively tracks the agency’s progress toward reducing its carbon footprint,” Weydig said. “Responsible, efficient utility usage and energy security and diversity are integral to the Port Authority’s commitments to enhancing regional economic growth and resiliency while delivering and maintaining efficient and modern facilities.’’

To better measure energy and water usage, the agency recently launched a utility management platform that provides robust reporting capabilities and real-time feeds from smart meters. The Port Authority is investing in a $54-million Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program featuring nearly 2,000 new electric, water and natural gas meters installed across Port Authority facilities.

As part of the agency’s energy conservation and cost-cutting efforts, roadway lights on the OBX and Goethals Bridge are currently being replaced with LED lights, which use less energy and last three times longer than the previous high-pressure sodium light bulbs.

The Port Authority’s commitment to conservation extends through the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Resources Program, which aims to preserve wetlands and other open space throughout the port district. Approximately $60 million has been spent on land preservation to date.

Across the port region, the agency is committed to clean energy generation, incorporating sustainable designs into new building projects, preservation of natural habitat, developing the infrastructure needed to support the public’s use of alternative-fuel vehicles, use clean vehicles for the agency’s fleet and the procurement of green cleaning products.

Additional efforts include:

·         The development of sustainable and resilient design guidelines for buildings and infrastructure.  For example, buildings at the World Trade Center (WTC) site utilize a number of conservation measures to achieve LEED Gold Certification; feature daylight controls, occupancy sensors and low flush and flow rate fixtures  resulting in at  least 16-percent  lighting power reduction and 20-percent reduced water usage; and striving to achieve net zero carbon emissions for core and shell electricity consumption via commercially purchased wind certificates.

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