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Sustainability Update: Greening Site Operations

Posted in Garden News on December 27, 2019 by John McEnrue

John McEnrue is the Vice President for Site Operations and Chief Sustainability Officer at The New York Botanical Garden.

Photo of a water fill station in useEarlier this summer NYBG received the American Public Gardens Association’s Operational Sustainability Award in Washington, D.C., recognizing The New York Botanical Garden as having the premier commitment to sustainable operation relative to its peers throughout the nation.

Across the grounds, NYBG continues to make strides in waste reduction. The most significant was eliminating single-use plastic beverage containers system-wide this summer in both public and staff locations. We were able to do this by either enhancing existing water fountains to include personal bottle filling adapters, installing new bottle filling stations, or replacing the commonly used five-gallon inverted water filling stations with filtered stations that tap into New York City’s internationally renowned clean water supply. Our food vendor, in concert, agreed to no longer sell single use plastic bottled water and, in turn, replaced it with metal refillable water containers.

While continually seeking options for further energy reductions, we have identified Hudson Garden Grill as an excellent candidate for receiving precision Environmental Climate Controls. Thankfully the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ (DCAS) Department of Energy concurs with our evaluation and will be providing the funding necessary to implement this through their Expense for Conservation and Efficiency Leadership (ExCEL) program. This energy initiative will replace inefficient pneumatic valves with sophisticated electronic smart “Energy Valves” to allow us to program water flow settings to meet the specific rates for each individual heating or cooling coil, depending on the season, complete with a real-time feedback to our Building Management System. The project will commence this fall with completion scheduled for summer 2020.

This winter NYBG will be developing a more robust Waste Prevention, Reuse, and Recycling plan, as well as creating a Water Management and Green Cleaning plan that continues to reduce our footprint in the community and on the planet as a whole.