On August 1, 2022, NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas Foley announced that the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project had been awarded “Envision Gold” for sustainability from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI).
ESCR is a $1.45-billion climate resiliency project that will provide flood protection and improve open spaces for more than 110,000 New Yorkers, including 28,000 residents in NYCHA housing. It’s enhancing parks while creating a 2.4-mile long flexible flood barrier extending from Montgomery Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side up to Asser Levy Playground at East 25th Street.
This is especially significant for neighborhoods in the ESCR project area that were severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.“New York City is on the frontline of Climate Change, and East Side Coastal Resiliency is the largest demonstration of resiliency infrastructure underway in the Nation. We are proud to deliver enhanced recreation space for residents while protecting the East Side from the impacts of future storms,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi.
“Thank you to the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure for honoring this important project and the Adams administration’s commitment to future-proofing New York,” she added.
Managed by DDC, the project involves significant upgrades to public open spaces and five parks, including improved waterfront access through reconstructed bridges and entry points. It will also upgrade existing sewer systems to capture and manage precipitation during storms.
“DDC is honored to bring flood protection and improve open spaces for 110,000 New Yorkers who were affected by Sandy and who live in an area with limited recreational opportunities,” said Foley.
“DDC and all of City government are taking climate change seriously and targeting our efforts to the communities that need it most. I’d like to thank the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure for recognizing this project with its ‘Envision Gold Award,’” he continued.
Construction of ESCR began near Stuyvesant Cove Park in November 2020. Last month, the City announced the reopening of Asser Levy Playground along with a new 45-ton sliding floodgate.
The entire project, which is being done in phases to keep park areas open for use by area residents during construction, will be completed in 2026.
“It is affirmational to be honored for our work to protect New Yorkers from the impacts of climate change,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “In the face of the biggest environmental threat we all face – we will continue to plan ahead, innovate, and get stuff done for New Yorkers.”
The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure developed and manages Envision, a framework that encourages systemic changes in the planning, design and delivery of sustainable and resilient infrastructure through education, training and third-party project verification.
The Envision sustainable infrastructure framework assesses project sustainability across five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World and Climate and Resilience.
“The ESCR project responds effectively to diverse stakeholder needs, applies the scientific evidence, and considers the lessons of extreme coastal weather — Hurricane Sandy in particular,” said Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure Managing Director Melissa Peneycad.
“The outcome is a multi-benefit project adding resilience to climate change impacts and ultimately positioning the East Side as a sustainable community with exceptional performance from a quality-of-life perspective. We are pleased to award this project Envision Gold for sustainability,” she explained.
To earn an Envision Gold award, a project must achieve a heightened range of sustainability and resilience outcomes.
East Side Coastal Resiliency was cited by ISI for creating a cohesive and comprehensive response to climate resiliency goals, protecting the community while enhancing public space and amenities, and developing a robust community engagement program that considers the diversity of stakeholders.
Images courtesy of NYC Department of Design and Construction.