The October 12 CityAge: Unleashing Clean Energy Systems digital event featured discussions on facility energy efficiency, decarbonizing buildings, and deploying clean energy infrastructure. It also highlighted sustainability projects at major facilities in New York and New Jersey, as well as Kansas City, Missouri, and Phoenix, Arizona, which can serve as examples for facilities managers to follow.
The 2-hour event was a special recorded session of CityAge that took place during Climate Week New York City NYC at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, which was held September 17–24, 2023. The CityAge digital event is available on demand on its YouTube channel.
Javits Center (New York, NY)
The 3.3-million-square-foot Javits Center, New York City’s primary venue for conventions, exhibitions, and major trade shows, is a leader in sustainability.
Alan Steel, CEO of the New York Convention Center Development Corporation (CCDC), operator of the Javits Center, said the CCDC developed a net-zero carbon events pledge. The goal is to achieve net zero at Javits by 2050 through reducing emissions.
This pledge is “now industry standard for the events business,” Steel said, adding, “We introduced it at COP26 (26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow), and the intention there is to bring all elements of the events business from the producers of events, the contractors who work at events, and then venues like ours under the same standards, and get our goals aligned.”
This complements Javits’ other sustainability efforts, including:
- A new roof wind turbine (installed in September 2023)
- A state-of-the-art 7-acre green roof (the largest in the Northeast)
- Energy-efficient glass that replaced the exterior curtain wall
- Growing own vegetables for farm-to-table experiences
- The installation of approximately 2,400 skylight panels
“We are trying to lead by demonstrating what can be done and what is possible in a single building,” Steel noted.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Facilities
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) hopes to be a leader in the transportation industry. It operates air, land, rail, and sea facilities throughout the two states, which include three New York City-area airports: LaGuardia Airport in Queens, John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in Queens, and Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey.
Rick Cotton, Executive Director of the PANYNJ, said the agency adopted goals in 2020 that include reducing its greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 35% in 2025 and by 50% in 2050.
“We have a major focus on the electrification of vehicles both our own and our partners. We have a major focus on our own buildings. And how do we move them to a decarbonized future? And finally, a focus on renewable energy and solar, in particular, in terms of how can we, to the extent we have the ability, generate clean energy?” Cotton said.
Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds, he added, have helped the port’s partners become more sustainable through federal programs, tax credits, and other incentives.
Cotton also noted that the PANYNJ anticipates having 50% of light vehicles electric by 2025 and 100% by 2028.
Additionally, there are plans to decarbonize Newark’s oldest building, called “Building One,” through efficiency upgrades, a new electric boiler, and new solar panels for clean, on-site energy generation to eliminate natural gas-burning equipment. It will be used as a prototype for other PANYNJ facilities.
Building One opened in 1935 and was the world’s first modern airport terminal. It housed the first airport restaurant, the first air traffic control tower, the first weather bureau, and the first night flights using steel tracks on the roof that supported guide lights.
Currently, it houses the PANYNJ and police administration offices.
Kansas City International Airport (Kansas City, Missouri)
One of the “most interesting projects we are working on is we’ve got plans for one of the largest solar arrays in the United States at the Kansas City Airport,” said Brian Platt, city manager of Kansas City.
Solar panels are expected to be installed on a 3,000-acre parcel near the airport that could create 500 megawatts (MW) of power for up to 70,000 homes, which is a third of the city.
It’s expected to break ground in spring 2024 and will be producing power in 2026, with a first phase that will deliver 35 MW of power on 136 acres and a second phase, over several years, that would develop the rest of the project.
Platt said the project is possible because of the amount of open space available to transform land that otherwise wouldn’t be able to be developed.
“No one wants to live in a house next to a runway or go to an office next to a runway. You can’t really build vertically there,” Platt explained.
He added that the city wouldn’t own the solar farm but would receive $300,000 yearly in rent.
Platt couldn’t give a final price tag on the project, as it depends on the solar technology used and other variables.
Electric Vehicle Hub (Greater Phoenix Area, Arizona)
The city of Phoenix is sensitive to the fact that harmful emissions from transportation can contribute to smog and climate change, as well as worsen asthma and other respiratory infections. It therefore has an ambitious goal of having 288,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on city streets by 2030.
To help meet that goal, Phoenix has over 16 different EV-related organizations, including EV manufacturers, battery manufacturing and recycling, and workforce training.
A new 1.3-million-square-foot advanced battery cell manufacturing facility, called the “KOREPlex,” started construction in 2022 in Buckeye, 40 miles west of Phoenix, and is expected to be completed in late 2024 or early 2025, according to the Associated Press.
It will hire 1,250 employees when it operates at full capacity, which would produce an estimated 6 gigawatt-hours of battery cell storage capacity annually, powering more than 28,000 EVs a year.
To ensure greater Phoenix-area workers will have the right skill set for the area’s newest EV facility, the city is helping fund education for workers at the local community college, which offers 10-day, 6-week, 2-year, and 4-year programs.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said the greater Phoenix area’s EV facilities are attracting international attention, including a reporter from a British publication who interviewed her and asked, “Are you worried that Phoenix will become too dependent on electric vehicles, and you’ll have the future of Detroit?”
Gallego explained to the CityAge audience, “This is not a stereotype that people would have had of Phoenix 10 years ago.” She told the reporter, “We’re working to diversify our economy, and we have a lot of bioscience and semiconductor investments.”
The digital event also included a discussion on how governments can use incentives and regulatory reform, types of clean energy projects implemented by utilities, and how cities and states with no experience in sustainability can begin their journey in reducing GHG emissions.
Watch the event in its entirety here.