OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

A list of external and internal media coverage on the Danish Cleantech Hub.

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Climate adaptation

Climate Week NYC: Denmark and New York will Build Back Greener

September 25, 2020 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Climate adaptation, Green buildings, New York, Renewable energy, Smart city

Green recovery strategies will create sustainable growth

During Climate Week NYC 2020, high-level speakers from both sides of the Atlantic gathered to discuss green recovery and public-private commitment to the advanced green transition and the speakers were invited to rethink partnerships as a vehicle to accelerate the green transition and growth. With more than 1000 registered participants, moderated by Connie Hedegaard, chairman for CONCITO, speakers discussed topics such as partnerships as a way to support innovation, growth and job creation and as a way to spur investments in sustainability.

Among the speakers were Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Dan Jørgensen and Lieutenant Governor of New York State Kathy Hochul, and they agreed on the level of ambition towards the green transition by underlining the commitments by Denmark and New York State.

“We continue to continue pursuing our climate policies. We are not wavering. We understand the threat of climate change – and we’re doing something about it, building back greener, investing heavily in renewable energy, etc.” Lieutenant Governor of New York State Kathy Hochul

“We are firmly committed that we will get through the Covid-19 crisis. The climate crisis has a more permanent character, requiring fundamental societal changes”, Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities

Global frontrunners

Denmark and New York are both global frontrunners in the green transition. Denmark has been on a green road since the 70’s and New York established itself as a global beacon in the field with their commitment to the Paris Agreement, when President Trump announced his plan for the United States to exit the agreement in 2017. Many similarities can be found between Denmark and New York and they provide an opportunity to increase collaboration further and increase private sector involvement to accelerate innovation and the green transition.

While Covid-19 has created high instability, both social and economically world-wide, it is time to involve, and rethink structure of society and methods to overcome the impact of Covid-19 while pursuing a green recovery. Ali Zaidi, Deputy Secretary to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance states:

“The more we build things together with everybody at the table, the more we will reinforce our collective climate change mitigation efforts”

Public-private partnerships as a vehicle for combatting climate change

Green and sustainable transition is discussed across New York during the Climate Week and companies are an essential part of the solution. Green knowhow is very sought-after and the climate week is a unique platform for Danish companies because sustainable cities start with sustainable solutions. Many Danish companies have cracked the code for how solutions can be adapted and scaled in new markets, with a focus on tailoring solutions to a city’s specific needs.

“By now it’s clear there’s no silver bullet solution to accelerating the green transition. It requires playing on the full keyboard of climate actions.  What role do partnerships play in such circumstances? What are the most important components to mainstream innovative green technologies or in finding new ways of attacking the challenge?”, Jens Birgersson, President and CEO, ROCKWOOL International

Did you miss the event?

It’s not too late! Read more about the event and speakers here.

Or watch the virtual event Build Back Greener: Principles for Kickstarting the Sustainable Transition through Partnerships here.

Seeking Smart Lighting Challenge Owners in NYC

September 9, 2020 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Climate adaptation, New York, Smart city

What we are looking for:

Danish Cleantech Hub and Gate21 are seeking NYC based actors, who are interested in innovative smart city solutions related to smart lighting. Challenge owners can be public agencies, building owners or developers, architects, engineering business, management companies etc. Essentially anyone involved in designing, suppling, developing or managing smart city technologies across the City.

The challenge itself can take many forms. For instance, you could have a space, a process or a design where smart lighting solutions could be applicable. Do not be afraid to be creative!

Why we do it:

Cities worldwide are increasingly realizing that urban lighting can provide solutions to overcome major challenges facing our societies such as environmental footprint, lacking digital infrastructures, increased costs and public well-being and safety. Many questions remain open for Cities that seek to develop forward-thinking lighting strategies, as they look for solutions to create the best Cities. The arrival of new technologies to the market, as well as the smart potentials lighting can now offer, triggers new questions to which Cities need solid and reliable answers, and well-tested solutions.

The challenge program:

Danish Cleantech Hub and Gate21 have developed a NYC Smart Lighting Challenge Program to connect NYC challenge owners with Danish smart lighting solutions. The program is a pilot, to test how open international challenge calls can be accelerated to inspire actors in the field and to come up with the best and most innovative solutions. The challenge program is divided into three steps:

  1. Launch of challenge and program at the Nordic Edge conference on September 23th 2020.
  2. Solution workshop in Denmark with participating Danish SMEs on November 4th 2020.
  3. Pitch finale on November 23th 2020 (date TBC)

Your commitment:

We expect all participants to be excited about smart lighting solutions. Participation in the call is free to challenge owners and the time consumption is expected to be approximately three hours in total including Q&A session to define challenge in detail with the facilitators (approx. 2 hours) and participation in the virtual pitch finale (one hour).

If you do not have a specific challenge, we welcome panelists in the panel for the pitch finale. Please send an email to Mille Munksgaard at mimu@di.dk to participate as a panelist.

Get involved:

Do you have a challenge or site that can be used for the program or do you want to register as a panelist? Send an email to Mille Munksgaard, mimu@di.dk today! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Deadline for submitting a challenge is September 16th 2020.

Job Opening: Project Manager

August 11, 2020 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Circular economy, Climate adaptation, New York

We are no longer accepting applications.

Are you passionate about bringing people together, international collaboration and fostering a green and circular economy? Do you have what it takes to engage and accelerate knowledge sharing and helping international sustainable businesses expand their business in the US? Then this is an opportunity to make a difference and accelerate your career as a sustainability professional.

Danish Cleantech Hub is a public-private non-profit initiative, founded by the Confederation of Danish Industry and State of Green. We develop projects and initiatives that in new ways facilities knowledge sharing and bring companies and green solutions to the US. Our biggest project is Circular City Week New York. We also work directly with Danish businesses providing them with analysis services related to market entry/expansion and creating events to raise awareness around solutions and technologies.

In New York, we are a smaller, but growing team, supported by our large headquarter in Denmark. We are part of the New York University’s cleantech incubator space, Urban Future Lab, located in Downtown Brooklyn.

Your key tasks will include

  • Being a key driving force to make the third Circular City Week New York an even bigger success and grow our network of partners, hosts and sponsors.
  • Organizing events/conferences/webinars and take lead on communicating and assisting our 60+ host organization that take part of Circular City Week.
  • You will be responsible for developing and managing corporate partnerships, including strategic planning and execution of cleantech related activities and visits in New York.
  • You will be supporting the implementation of ongoing projects related to circular, green building and urban planning, involving both public, private and academic stakeholders.

We expect from you

  • You like to share your excitement about the green clean future and experience from the world of sustainability either from working in an NGO, public agency or private company will be a plus.
  • You are comfortable speaking to partners and peers, and you have a good sense for coalition building and partnership development. Previous involvement in multi-partner projects and settings will be an advantage.
  • You have strong organizational skills, can keep track of many processes at one time and have previously worked with planning events and conferences.
  • You have flair for strategic business development and likely experience with corporate consulting.
  • You have strong communications skills and insights into the world of newsletter, websites, and SoMe.
  • It comes naturally to you to take responsibility and manage projects independently. In addition, we expect you to be helpful and passionate about sharing your knowledge with interns.

By joining Danish Cleantech Hub you will become be part of a dynamic, young, and driven team. We have brought the Danish way of working to the US, so hierarchies are flat, and work-life balance a priority. Candidates must be a US citizen or hold a valid US work permit and should ready to start working by 1 October 2020 or potentially earlier. We will be accepting applications on a rolling basis. This position is a temporary 7-8 months local employee contract, but subject to potential extension.

Contact

Please sent your application to tone@di.dk in one pdf file, which should include a cover letter, your CV, and any other diplomas/letters/references relevant for this position. You can contact Tone Søndergaard, Director of Danish Cleantech Hub, by phone: +1 (646) 997 4019 or e-mail at tone@di.dk if you have questions about the position.

 

Tone Søndergaard

Director

tone@di.dk

 

Green Circular Transition Program

May 7, 2020 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Circular economy, Climate adaptation, New York

What is it all about?

The Green Circular Transition program aims a providing business from across industries with building competitive advantages based on increased resources efficiency and circular economy approaches. The program is in place from 2019-2022 and is implemented by a group of 17 organizations and with the expertise of 60+ circular consultants.

Denmark has a longstanding tradition for developing green and sustainable solutions. The next generation of competitive advantages is likely to be generated through a transition to a circular economy and resource efficiency. The aim of this program is to enable Danish SMEs to be at the forefront of this development and customer’s needs, who in the future will demand circular products and services.

The program aids companies to implement circular business such as:

  • Product life extension
  • Design for disassembly and recycling
  • Product as a service
  • None-virgin material use
  • Resource efficiency and circular supplies

The program will especially work to transition more companies within industries that are challenging but where circularity has a large potential.

  • Plastic production and use
  • Food and beverage industries
  • Manufacturing processes and components
  • Construction and buildings
  • Design, textiles and furniture
  • Service driven sectors

Program activities:

The Green Circular Transition program also includes a strong focus on innovation. For this reason, the program includes a track designed to enable Danish SMEs to tap into international best practices. Workshops with global frontrunners and international fact-finding tours will be key to achieve this goal. The role of digitalization as a driver for circular innovation will likewise be a focus area.

Participating companies get access to fully funded and specialized:

  • Individualized consulting
  • Collaborative challenge driven projects
  • Intensive transition sprints
  • Digitalization and international innovation tracks

Learn more:

Please visit the program website (only in Danish) to learn much more about how to participate in the program.

Contact Tone Søndergaard at tone@di.dk to learn more about sharing you can be part of this international knowledge exchange and innovation track.

Andrew M. Cuomo announces $175 Million Workforce Development Initiative

February 3, 2020 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Climate adaptation, New York

The New Workforce Development Initiative

On January 7 2020 Cuomo unveiled the 32nd proposal for his 2020 State of the State: expanding on New York’s historic $175 million Workforce Development Initiative to meet emerging job demand. Cuomo putted forward a series of plans, including training centers and programs, that will retrain and prepare Americans for new jobs. The expansion of the Workforce Development Initiative will ensure that American and international employers are able to find and hire qualified workers with in-demand skills in New York.

The Initiative is one of several in New York State to start career and technical education programs creating an opportunity for retraining and preparing people for new jobs that include clean energy jobs like technicians in both wind turbine technicians and solar energy, health care, cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing:

“This aggressive, all-encompassing approach to workforce training will bolster New York’s groundbreaking Workforce Development Initiative by helping to ensure workers have the skills they need to compete and succeed in emerging industries that are quickly developing across our state,” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “With private sector employment at an all-time high, New York must continue to invest in its workforce and make certain that our workers have the necessary skills to work in a rapidly-changing economy.”

With nearly 160,000 clean energy jobs across the state and 8.9 percent clean job growth since 2016, the State’s nation-leading climate policies are attracting private-sector investment and encouraging business creation. If New York State wants to add to the position of being a national leader in nearly every green job sector, the State must continue to invest in upskilling and preparing for an even larger green sector. Looking towards 2020 the $175 Million Workforce Development Initiative is a solid starting point in terms of making sure that high-quality competences are available in the State.

The all-inclusive approach of creating a demand for green solutions while developing the workforce make New York a constant interesting market for Danish companies.

Want to Know More?

Danish Cleantech Hub is a public-private partnership, led by the Confederation of Danish Industry and State of Green. We support the visibility and commercialization of Danish companies and expertise in New York and we provide a single point of entry for all cleantech-related activities between Denmark and New York. If you want to get in touch with us to please write to mimu@di.dk for more information.

Danish-American Roundtable to Discuss Private and Public Climate Action of Tomorrow

September 19, 2019 / Posted by Rune GadeRune Gade / Climate adaptation, Green buildings, New York, Renewable energy, Urban planning

The climate change movement has gained serious momentum in recent years. Spearheaded by government and the private sector, more and more stakeholders are signing up to set and help meet energy and climate targets, taking more responsibility by curbing emissions and making significant investments in clean energy and sustainability measures.

“Both government and private sector action are imperative to achieving clean energy and climate goals. Governments provide the policy foundation assuring industry that investments can be made to the market size and scale that the policy has established. The private sector, in creating its own business opportunities, then brings innovation to the economy, and competition delivers value to consumers. In combination, they both drive market transformation to allow clean energy to become an everyday decision, said John Williams, Vice President in NYSERDA one of the organising partners of the event.

“Corporate and Government Climate Action – The Clean Economy in Denmark and New York” is a high-level roundtable organised by the Confederation of Danish IndustryDI EnergyDanish Cleantech HubState of Green and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which will focus on the impact and nature of the private and public sectors’ climate action commitments towards a low-carbon economy.

-Related news: Strong Danish green footprint at this year’s New York Climate Week

Showcasing initiatives

The timing is perfect. With the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City as the backdrop, the event will convene clean economy leaders from state and city governments, businesses and financial institutions – such as NY Green Bank.

“NY Green Bank exists as a part of the New York State’s comprehensive energy strategy to lean in early to emerging markets and provide financing solutions that are replicable, scalable, and ultimately attract private sector investment. It is the government’s role to implement good policies that generate market activity and enable greater private sector investment,” said Alfred Griffin, President in NY Green Bank

Each path is different, but the idea is for participants to showcase leading collaborative initiatives for confronting and solving climate change.

One of the speakers at the event is Ditlev Engel, Denmark’s Special Envoy for Climate and Energy, and CEO of DNV GL’s Energy business: ”In my work as Denmark’s Special Envoy for Climate and Energy my main focus has been to speed up the global investments in the green transition in order to reach the climate goals. This entails creating an investment climate enabling both institutional investors and the private sector to engage and make the necessary investments. At the ‘Corporate and Government Climate Action’ event, I look forward to engage with both Danish and international stakeholders on how to create the best conditions for climate action”, he said.

-Related news: Securing the framework for offshore wind in New York

Strong line-up of prominent speakers

Speakers at “Corporate and Government Climate Action – The Clean Economy in Denmark and New York” include:

  • Alfred Griffin, President, NY Green Bank
  • Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA
  • Lea Wermelin, Minister of the Environment, Denmark
  • Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor, City of Copenhagen
  • Dale Bryk, Deputy Secretary for Energy and Environment, Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
  • Lars Sandahl Sørensen, CEO, the Confederation of Danish Industry
  • Jens Birgersson, CEO, ROCKWOOL
  • Thomas Brostrøm, President, Ørsted North America
  • Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman, Carlsberg
  • Alzbeta Klein, Director and Global Head of Climate Business, International Finance Corporation

“Corporate and Government Climate Action – The Clean Economy in Denmark and New York” will take place in New York City on 24 September, 2019 from 11.30am to 4.30pm.

Programme of the event

11:30am: Lunch & welcome

12:10pm: Executive fireside chat – Green investment: How countries can become magnets for private green investments

12:30pm: Panel session I – Regulatory uncertainty at the city and state level: The role of corporate climate commitments

1:10pm: Break

1:30pm: Executive fireside chat – A renewable future: Driving climate action through offshore wind

1:50pm: Panel session II – Profitability and competitiveness: How the private sector can combine good business with climate goals

2:30pm: Curated roundtable discussions: Common ground and commitments

3:30pm: Reception

Visit the conference website for all he deatils.

World Water Day 2019 – The Future of Water in New York

April 8, 2019 / Posted by adminadmin / Climate adaptation, New York, Urban water

NY Blue Tech, New York’s first international and interdisciplinary water sector network, operates on the mission to help meet the challenges for the water sector in New York through knowledge-sharing.

The annual global World Water Day serves as an excellent occasion to leverage the multi-stakeholder scope of the NY Blue Tech network by convening experts, stakeholders and public decision makers for a day of discussing water sector challenges and opportunities in New York. This year, we decided to center the discussions around how to meet the water challenges through P3s and cross-disciplinary collaboration. A successful water event in Westchester earlier this year teed up the importance of rethinking P3 collaboration within the water sector. Hence, World Water Day symposium provided a unique platform to continue this discussion in a wider New York State setting “New York can benefit greatly from international collaboration on how to manage and implement cross-disciplinary collaboration. As two global frontrunners, Denmark and the Netherlands have successfully innovated the water sector through public-private partnerships. Being able to convene the entire New York water sector to discuss key issues like this is exactly why we co-founded NY Blue Tech in 2017”, said Klaus Lehn Christensen, Director, Danish Cleantech Hub and Co-founder of NY Blue Tech Network.

The first section of the half-day symposium took form as panel debates, where more than 18 speakers where given the opportunity to enlighten the attendees on how they actively focus on improving New York’s water sector by considering P3 collaboration and by applying an integrated water management approach, which recognizes the connection between upstream and downstream water assets. Among the high-level speakers where Josh Mendes, Technical Advisor, DHI Group, a Danish company that serves the US market with innovative technology for asset management and modelling within the water sector: “It is essential that we view the water cycle through a holistic lense. As we strive to future-proof our cities in the face of climate change and increasing density, we have to recognize that energy net-neutrality at our waste water resource plants is connected to how we manage for example stormwater further upstream”, said Josh Mendes, Technical Advisor, DHI Group.

The following break-out sessions proved the immense engagement from New Yorker stakeholders in discussing how we accommodate for future water challenges, and lot least how we finance implementation of long-term solutions.

NY Blue Tech’s 2019 World Water day symposium shed light on the complexity of the public-private partnerships needed to finance the badly needed water infrastructure upgrades in New York, and the US in general. And specifically, it brought together a diverse group of stakeholders together, who collectively identified existing technology and financial tools which are ready for deployment, if stakeholders are willing to take on risk and act.

Read more about NY Blue Tech and how to become a member here

Download article here

Access Cities Teams up with NYC Mayor’s Office to Develop Urban Tech Challenge

February 8, 2019 / Posted by adminadmin / Climate adaptation, New York

For the first major Access Cities challenge, Danish Cleantech Hub teams up with Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Economic Development Corporation and the city’s premier cleantech incubator, Urban Future Lab, to develop an open challenge based on problems prioritized by NYC Agencies, and for which Danish technology providers have a strong value proposition.

New York City offers a high value opportunity as a global megacity market for companies looking to get involved in market challenges coming out of the Access Cities program. Danish Cleantech Hub, a joint initiative by The Confederation of Danish Industry and State of Green, is the New York lead on this 2.5-year multi-city program aimed at testing out emerging, and proven, technology and solutions through a challenge and living lab-based approach in New York, Munich, Singapore, Copenhagen and Aarhus.

“Leveraging our position in the New York City urban tech ecosystem, we are teaming up with Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Economic Development Corporation and “our own” cleantech incubator, Urban Future Lab, to develop this first  open challenge. In this challenge both Danish technology providers and New York counterparts can compete in order to share knowledge across the Atlantic,” says NYC Access Cities Project Manager Klaus Lehn Christensen, Director at Danish Cleantech Hub.

As part of the Access Cities program, Danish Cleantech Hub, offers individual support for companies interested in the New York market by assisting with market entry, partner search and/or visibility.

At the same time, in Denmark, Climate KIC offers market preparation support for companies interested in the challenge, and who are looking to take on the US market. The challenge is expected to launch during the Smart Cities NY expo 13-15 May 2019.

Apart from co-created challenges, the Access Cities program also promotes existing challenges on the target markets. Below an outline of currently open challenges on the New York market.

New York State 2019 Forecast – Political and Cleantech Trends

December 14, 2018 / Posted by adminadmin / Climate adaptation, New York, Renewable energy

Clean energy forecast in the midterm elections aftermath

The U.S. mid-term elections resulted in a Democratic take-over of the House of Representatives. Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi Democrats seem determined to launch a new “better green deal” on climate change and other environmental issues, which have taken a back seat in light of Republicans’ deregulatory agenda. However, forces within the Democratic party are arguing for the more progressive stance that the country should commit to 100 % renewable electricity generation within a decade.

With a Congress mired in gridlock under the Trump Administration, which celebrated Thanksgiving by sweeping an alarming climate action progress port under the rug, it is more likely, however, that the clean energy efforts will be spearheaded by states and cities. The US Climate Alliance currently includes 17 states which have committed to delivering on the Paris Agreement. And, early December it was announced that Ohio became the 100th U.S. city to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2030-2035 (depending on the city), in a national campaign promoted by the influential non-profit, The Sierra Club.

Governor Cuomo Continues to drive New York’s environmental leadership

The two-term New York incumbent Andrew Cuomo was resoundingly reelected to a third term as governor of New York, winning 59% of the votes, which even improved his 2014 showing. His victory came as fellow democrats in Albany celebrated a wave of victories in the State Senate, regaining control of that chamber for just the third time in 50 years.

New York State continues to boast one of the nation’s most progressive Clean Energy Standards committed to the goal of securing 50% of the State’s consumption from renewable sources such as such as solar, wind, and hydro by 2030.

Off-shore wind plays an important piece in the new energy mix for New York, and the East Coast in general, which collectively has committed to produce 8GW by 2030. New York for its part signed up to this virtual East Coast race with a 2.4GW goal by 2030, enough to power 1.2 million homes. That decision has further catalyzed the decision to shut down Indian Point by 2021, one of New York’s four nuclear powerplants, attracting additional investment in clean energy

In New York City, the midterm elections offered a further Democratic boost, which included young rising candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ocasio winning a congressional seat to become the youngest woman to join Congress, and Max Rose securing a Democratic victory on Staten Island, New York most conservative borough.

Mayor de Blasio is focused on delivering on the Paris Agreement, and the additional 1.5 C plan the city committed to, as the first one in the world, which includes alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The City’s 10-year development plan, OneNYC plan, works to deliver on the climate action goal of 80% emission reductions by 2050.

Silicon Valley vs Silicon Alley

In the great West Coast vs East Coast battle to attract investment and talent to the tech world, New York continues to ramp up its “Silicon Alley” brand. While still dwarfed by Silicon Valley venture capital abundance, the Mid-Atlantic region, mainly driven by New York, came in 2nd with 20.4% of all venture capital deals in Q3 2018, against Silicon Valley’s 38.3%.

 

A genuine tech hub

Zeroing in on cleantech, or Urban Tech, as it is dubbed here, New York City has become a genuine hub. The City’s Economic Development Corporation continues to funnel investment into the growing ecosystem by creating more visibility, and opportunity, for investors and companies. As an example, in 2019 New York City’s urban tech sector will be centralized on one single website, and ecosystem, called The Grid.

New York City closed out the year with a big tech announcement with Amazon deciding to set up its second U.S. headquarters (split with Northern Virginia) creating 25,000 skilled tech jobs at $130,000 a year. The move solidifies the City’s position as a tech hub, where Amazon is joining other major job creators such as Google, Facebook, BNY Mellon, Capgemini, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

 

Opportunities abound for Danish cleantech companies in New York

Danish Cleantech Hub, a joint initiative by The Confederation og Danish Industry and State of Green, is in a valuable position to help Danish companies benefit from New York’s consistent commitment to sustainability and climate adaptation. Imbedded in the New York ecosystem system since 2014, Danish Cleantech Hub enters 2019 with a variety of new business opportunities: Circular City Week (March 4-10) is an industry festival organized by Danish Cleantech Hub to boost the awareness of circular economy – a paradigm which Denmark is among the global frontrunners within.

As a second new initiative, Danish Cleantech Hub is part of Access Cities – a multi-city 2.5year program with the aim of testing out emerging, and proven, technology and solutions through a challenge and living lab based approach in New York, Munich, Singapore, Copenhagen and Aarhus.

In addition to that, Danish Cleantech Hub opens the new year as a partner in The Westchester water symposium (January 17), and later on with Word Water Day programming (March 22) through the water network NY Blue Tech co-founded by Danish Cleantech Hub.

Access the article here

Get in Contact

Louis Funder

General Manager, US

(+1) 202 813 2276

lfk@di.dk

Klaus Lehn Christensen

Director

(+1) 646 997 4019

kllc@di.dk

 

NYC-Copenhagen Collaboration on Cloudburst Management to be Extended – and Expanded!

September 28, 2018 / Posted by adminadmin / Climate adaptation, New York, Urban planning, Urban water

New York’s Next Nickname: The Big Sponge?

New York City has its nicknames: the Empire City, Fun City, the city that never sleeps. Now, because of a partnership between New York and Copenhagen, another might join the list: Sponge City.

New York, city officials said, needs to do better at dealing with weather phenomena that are becoming more common — cloudbursts, which are especially intense rainstorms that dump enormous amounts of water in a short time. Climate change means cloudbursts are likely to happen more frequently.

So officials have spent three years studying how Copenhagen coped with heavy storm water runoff after a deluge in 2011. A Danish official called it a thousand-year weather event.

The storm drenched Copenhagen with six inches of rain in two hours. Afterward, officials considered ways of making the city more absorbent with design changes, like planting grass to replace asphalt (because asphalt does not absorb rainwater) or lowering playgrounds and basketball courts so they hold water in a storm.

Then in 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded 51 square miles in New York, about 17 percent of the city’s total land mass, according to city statistics.

When New York officials learned that Copenhagen had developed a master plan to deal with storms and runoff, the two very different cities formed a partnership. Copenhagen’s population is less than 10 percent of New York’s, and Copenhagen covers far less land than do the five boroughs.

“Yours is much, much bigger, but the principle is the same,” said Lykke Leonardsen, a Copenhagen official involved in the partnership. “The idea of creating a new type of infrastructure for the management of storm water is a way of making sure that you do not experience an unwanted flood from sewer water and storm water, because then you’re not just talking about a nuisance but a health issue.”

Officials from both cities decided they needed open space that can, in effect, absorb water like sponges, or at least slow runoff gushing through populated areas during or after a storm. Finding such spaces is a tall order in urban areas, but “sponges” help to keep water out of the sewer system when sewers are overwhelmed in a storm.

“The obvious thing is, why don’t you build bigger sewers,” Vincent Sapienza, the commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Protection, said in an interview. “One is, they cost a fabulous amount of money to do, and two, on many residential streets, there’s no room for bigger sewers.”

Ms. Leonardsen said Copenhagen’s experience showed that turning to green infrastructure and solutions like sponge areas had economic advantages.“We found that instead of digging down in underground reservoirs and expanding the sewer system,” she said, “this was much cheaper.”

After the 2011 cloudburst, Copenhagen began 300 projects to drive storm water away from populated areas and manage flooding better. “Copenhagen showed you can take it a step further by creating spaces where you can store larger volumes of water,” said Alan Cohn, a managing director in the environmental agency’s Bureau of Environmental Planning and Analysis.

Adding green space or replacing asphalt with grass could increase the spongelike properties of a neighborhood. And when sewers are overwhelmed by a rainwater runoff, he said, the goal should be “flooding by design” — that is, designing the landscape so water goes where it can be stored temporarily if it cannot be absorbed into the ground.

Designing a basketball court like an amphitheater, with steps leading down, could accomplish that.

On an appropriately recent rainy day, officials from the two cities, along with environmental experts and officials from other cities, gathered at the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village for a discussion of what could be accomplished through international collaboration.

Susanne DesRoches, a deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, said the project with Copenhagen had been “a huge success.” Mr. Sapienza said the partnership would continue and expand to include other cities.

Other officials said it was important to share ideas because each city tends to formulate plans in its own way.

“There’s no cookbook for how to make cities resilient,” Ms. Leonardsen said. “It’s new for us, and we all have to figure it out.”

In 2016, the second year of the partnership, New York began a cloudburst study in southeastern Queens, where storm water drains into Jamaica Bay. Now in the planning stages is a pilot program at the South Jamaica Houses, a public-housing project that dates to when Fiorello H. La Guardia was mayor.

A second pilot-project area is in St. Albans, Queens, which also sustains heavy flooding.

Southeastern Queens is shaped somewhat like a bowl and sits at a low elevation with inadequate sewer infrastructure, officials said, so the city is committing $1.9 billion to reduce flooding and improve street conditions there. The money will go to 45 infrastructure projects to be completed over the next 10 years.

Cynthia Rosenzweig, co-chairwoman of the New York City Panel on Climate Change and a professor at Barnard College, said municipalities across the country needed to think bigger.

“In Europe, they take a larger approach,” she said. “Here, we take a jack-o’-lantern approach,” concentrating on limited projects that are the equivalent of the eyes or the mouth on a Halloween pumpkin. “We need to scale up to the neighborhood level and beyond.”

Read the article on the successful  NYC-Copenhagen collaboration in The New York Times.

Copenhagen-New York Collaboration Leads to Cloudburst Management Being Included in NYC Resilience Plan

The ongoing knowledge exchange between New York City and Copenhagen has lead to a 3-year official collaboration on Climate Adaptation and Cloudburst Management, with Danish Cleantech Hub as local facilitator in NYC.

Read the study

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