New World Trade Center goes for gold

By Peter Janetos, ESA public affairs intern

New World Trade Center. Photo ©

On September 11th 2001 the two iconic towers overseeing the New York City skyline, were reduced to a heaping pile of rubble and destruction. Twelve years later, a new World Trade Center (WTC) complex is emerging that aims to achieve the “gold” certification in its building design.  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was developed under the US Green Building Council to recognize and certify both buildings and communities that aim to improve energy savings, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, intelligently manage resources, conserve water, and improve indoor environmental quality.  The certifications range from “certified”, 40-49 points, to “platinum” 80 or more points.

So what exactly does the environmentally friendly building design of the new WTC entail?  For starters it will use a technique called daylighting to reduce the use of interior lighting.  Eduardo Del Valle, Director of Design Management told Popular Science that “if enough daylight is coming into the window it automatically dims the interior lights. It’s all about reducing energy consumption. Every space within 15 feet of the facade will be equipped with dimming devices.”  Studies show that natural sunlight is better for the human body than artificial light so an added benefit could be reducing illness and increased productivity.

The WTC requires construction workers to use only ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) to reduce air pollution associated with this extensive construction project.  In particular ultralow-sulfur reduces nitrogen oxide.  ULSD fuel is so effective that New York State and city now require it for construction equipment used for public construction projects have to use ULSD.  They plan to help reduce local air pollution surrounding the new towers with ample public transportation options, encourage carpooling, and new facilities for bikers to reduce air pollution from commuting.

WTC will harvest both the rain and take water from the Hudson River, conserving water and reducing costs.  Rain will be used on new cooling towers, and to water the vegetation within the 16-acre complex.  Hudson River water will be used with the new Central Chiller Plant to cool off the transportation hub, the 9/11 museum, rental space, and non-commercial activities.  Seventy five percent of the new WTC is made of post-industrial recycled content, reducing the carbon footprint in building construction and saving energy by recycling goods instead of manufacturing new ones.  WTC also recycles 80 percent of waste it generates on site.

If the new WTC acquires Gold certification and continues to implement these smart building designs, it would be a monumental achievement for the city of New York.  Many other buildings in New York have acquired Gold and Platinum certification but the sheer size of the WTC complex makes its impact all the more significant.  As human populations continue to concentrate in the world’s large cities, this seems like the right direction.

Author: Nadine Lymn

ESA Director of Public Affairs

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