New York City’s “Greenest” Launches New Sustainable Parks Task Force
New Yorkers are fond of superlatives. It’s commonly said that the Police Department is New York City’s “finest”, the Fire Department is New York’s “bravest,” and the Sanitation Department is the “strongest.” At the Parks Department, we are quickly earning our reputation as New York City’s “greenest.”
We have pushed high performance urban park design and construction to new heights with our publication of the High Performance Landscape Guidelines, created innovative management techniques for our natural resources, and are engaging in cutting-edge practices to reduce our fuel and energy consumption.
The ideas and inspiration for going green have come from thousands of employees across the agency, from park designers to maintenance and operations staff. This widespread enthusiasm and commitment to the environment has led to the creation of a new agency division called Sustainable Parks.
The Sustainable Parks Task Force was formed in 2010 to bring together employees across the New York City Parks Department to advance green initiatives related to 21st century park design and construction, innovative natural resource management, and the reduction of fuel, energy, and materials consumption. Through agency-wide education programs and the quarterly release of a sustainability plan, Sustainable Parks will reduce the agency’s carbon footprint and enhance the current and future livability of New York City.
What is sustainability? Sustainability can be defined in several ways. It includes a commitment to social, economic and environmental factors that help ensure long-term survival and a sustained quality of life. Most importantly, it means to think about the impact our actions have on the environment, on the economy and on future generations.
Many Parks employees from across the agency have already contributed to the Sustainable Parks Task Force. Several Parkies submitted names for the task force (the task force ultimately voted on Sustainable Parks as the winning name – Kudos to Vickie Karp and Susan Kornacki, co-creators of the name). Other Parkies have volunteered to take time out of their daily work routines to participate in one of the task force’s six working groups: metrics, training and education, capital, public recycling, leaf composting and communications. The working groups are open to all employees interested in getting involved. Sustainable Parks encourages all Parks employees to contact the working group co-chairs to join a group, offer green ideas, or find out more information. You can also e-mail any sustainability questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metrics Working Group:
Jackie Lu, Forestry and Horticulture
Mike Mintz, Management and Budget
Jun Lee, Operations and Management Planning
James Greenan, Information Technology
1) Develop indicators related to Water, Material resources, Fuel/Energy, and Green Partnerships to measure existing and new initiatives.
Training and Education Working Group:
Bonnie McGuire, Urban Park Rangers
Sara Levine, Personnel
Annette Ben-Habib, 5-Boro Technical Services
1) Develop and implement comprehensive sustainability training programs for all employees.
2) Identify the agency’s internal and external resources to develop training curriculums.
3) Identifying point people at facilities and in districts across the agency to support Sustainable Parks initiatives and provide education.
Public Recycling Working Group:
Julie Raskin, Management and Budget
Mahanth Joishy, Citywide Operations
Jill Weber, Rockaway Park Administrator
1) Expand public recycling to 200 sites by 2013.
2) Expand event recycling.
3) Incorporate recycling bins into Capital procurement.
Capital Working Group:
Nette Compton, Senior Project Manager
Jeremy Barrick, Capital Arborist
1) Document and compile sustainable specs and details.
2) Create sustainable design checklist.
3) Analyze Capital process to identify obstacles and solutions.
Leaf Composting Working Group:
Ronnit Bendavid-Val, Horticulture
1) Install an O2 composter in each borough, to produce approx. 300 cubic yards annually, which will provide the boroughs with an on-hand supply year-round.
2) Create a system for horticulture staff (Gardeners & Assistant Gardeners) to have ongoing communication to encourage and support their smaller on-site composting.
Communications Working Group:
David Barker, Sustainability Initiatives
Jesslyn Moser/Trish Bertuccio, Press Office
1) Promotion/Reminders/Guidance about going green through bulletins and competitions.
2) Launch Green Pledges campaign for all employees to commit to “one thing that’s green.”
3) Release first version of the Sustainable Parks plan by late spring/summer 2011.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“When you have seen as much of life as I have,
you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love.”
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince