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

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Urban planning

Suncil – A growing leader in delivering sustainable solar powered street lighting

June 2, 2021 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / New York, Smart city, Urban planning

Rising populations, aging infrastructure, and climate change pose serious challenges for cities across the world. With 70 percent of cities already dealing with the effects of climate change, and a projected 68 percent of the world projected to be living in cities by 2050, smart cities and urban technologies are essential investments for a sustainable and equitable urban future.

One company that can provide smart city technology is Suncil.

Suncil is a Danish producer of solar powered street lighting and solar column solutions, which includes standalone solar powered luminaire that provides light throughout the night, regardless of the previous days’ weather conditions. Their innovative lighting technology, aesthetically pleasing product design and their aim for the best possible solutions – for both their customers and for their planet, has made Suncil a growing leader in delivering sustainable solar powered street lighting.

Suncil has recently been acquired by MAKEEN Energy, and this has created an increase in production capacity and reduced distribution time. Due to this acquisition, Suncil is now seeking new business opportunities in the US.

To gain a better understanding of the American market, Suncil has reached out to Danish Cleantech Hub, the American lead in the Access Cities project, to seek consultancy on possible company growth and market expansion strategy.

Due to Suncil’s product, the analytical scope will be focused on the “sunshine” states California, Nevada and Florida. Here, Danish Cleantech Hub will provide an overview of which approvals and jurisdictions the products must fulfil within the different states.

For more information on the Suncil case, or how Access Cities can help your company do business in New York, please contact Danish Cleantech Hub.

Interested in exploring the market opportunities for smart city technologies? Download our smart city roadmap HERE.

Designing with generosity

May 24, 2021 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Green buildings, New York, Urban planning

Generous buildings, public spaces, landscapes and urban plans can change the world. Not as singular iconic gestures but as a collective approach to creating sustainable environments”.

For the Danish architectural firm, ADEPT, the above statement outlines their approach toward architecture. Here, they use generosity as the primary tool, and this has led to multiple projects in the fields of culture, public space, and urbanism. ADEPT follows the holistic approach where all components are taken into consideration. Here, the building is seen as a tool to optimize and improve the social surroundings around it.

As for Adept, their projects have primarily been in Europe but now the US market is calling.

Finding the right partners for US entry

The practice of architecture is a heavily regulated and protected profession in the US. The laws governing the practice of architecture differ from state to state, and any architectural firm must comply with the local state laws in which the architectural service is provided. To comply with this complexity, the Access Cities program have helped ADEPT in identifying potential market entry strategies and partners, that can help smooth the transition into the US market for ADEPT.

Here, Danish Cleantech Hub, the New York lead on the Access Cities program, have identified three potential market entry strategies and establishment scenarios, with the aim of giving ADEPT a thorough understanding of the regulatory issues and requirements in establishing and operating an architectural firm in the US.

In conclusion, the conducted analysis has provided ADEPT insight into possible market entry strategies and potential partners in the US. Thus, Danish Cleantech Hub were able to come with suggestions and strategic considerations for ADEPT that could help ADEPT in making a strategic choice in their potential US market entry.

For more information on the Adept case, or how Access Cities can help your company do business in New York, please contact Danish Cleantech Hub.

New York Sets the Bar with Their New 2021 Agenda ‘Reimagine – Rebuild – Renew’

January 19, 2021 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Circular economy, Climate adaptation, Green buildings, New York, Renewable energy, Smart city, Urban planning, Urban water


Last week Governor Cuomo announced the 2021 agenda ‘Reimagine-Rebuild-Renew’ for New York. In the light of Covid-19, New York is facing critical issues that calls for action. During the State of the State Address 2021 Governor Cuomo announced that New York is now taking a bold move facing the climate crisis.

With their 2021 agenda, New York is paving its way with ambitious proposals and investments within the green energy economy. Among other things, the agenda features initiatives which focus on creating the largest offshore wind program in the US, make New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse, and create a green energy transmission superhighway. This will not only be rewarding for New Yorkers, but it will also support communities and small businesses.

In a statement from Governor Cuomo, it is stated: “Green energy is a pressing moral imperative and a prime economic opportunity. New York can and will be the nation’s leader for renewable energy innovation and production, all while securing jobs of the future for New Yorkers. Our entire green energy program will create a total 12,400 megawatts of green energy to power 6 million homes, directly create more than 50,000 jobs, and spur $29 billion in private investment all across the state.”

The proposals include public-private partnerships to build nearly 100 renewable energy projects, construction of New York’s green energy transmission superhighway, development and deployment of energy storage and investments in training New Yorkers for jobs in the wind and renewable energy sector.

By investing in a green economic recovery, New York is truly setting their steppingstones for becoming a green, sustainable city in the after shakes of Covid-19. With their new 2021 agenda, it will create demand for the most well-innovated green energy solutions across nations, and thus open new doors for companies within the green energy economy.

Read more on the 2021 agenda ‘Reimagine-Rebuild-Renew’ HERE.

NEW WHITE PAPER: Beyond Buildings – Buildings as a key element for sustainable cities

November 2, 2020 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Circular economy, Climate adaptation, Green buildings, New York, Urban planning

It is estimated that by 2050 two thirds of the worlds’ population will live in cities. Knowing that urbanization continues to accelerate globally, it is time to make effort in accommodating the demand for cities and buildings that can enable better health and well-being for citizens.

Buildings must simply be re-innovated in terms of design and how we use them. Knowing that buildings account for up to 40% of global waste and 39% of energy-related CO2 pollution, it is necessary to innovate and be creative in how we can combat climate change through buildings.

To combat this rise in demand, it is time for holistic, cross-sectoral partnerships and new technologies to create buildings that enable global population to thrive socially, and physically.
In Denmark, the government has been retrofitting buildings for years in efforts to make them more sustainable, resilient and healthier for citizens. This has made Denmark a frontrunner in the building industry, leading Danish companies toward immense opportunities in exporting sustainable solutions.

The international launch event

On October 30th Danish Cleantech Hub, State of Green and Creative Denmark launched the Beyond Buildings white paper internationally. As part of the launch event, Danish and American experts discussed how we can create future sustainable cities for citizens.

Speakers included Simon Kollerup, Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, Janet Joseph, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Market Development, NYSERDA, Kim Rahbek, Chairman Business Lolland-Falster, Karen Roiy, Director of Global Industry Affairs at Danfoss, Neel Strøbæk, Senior Group Director at Rambøll and many more.

Watch the international launch event on-demand HERE.

Beyond Buildings – Buildings as a key element for sustainable cities

In the new white paper, the idea of buildings being just buildings is being crushed. Instead, the white paper puts focus on the idea of making the citizens as the center of sustainable cities. Here, holistic solutions and cross-sectoral partnerships within industries is being presented through a variety of inspiring cases, in both Danish and International context.

“Without the help of businesses, we will not meet our green ambitions. Therefore, we must help
businesses around the world to contribute to the green transition by sharing our common knowledge and experiences. This white paper highlights leading enterprises and solutions that use creativity as a crucial catalyst to support the development of sustainable and innovative practices and solutions in and around the built environment.” –
Simon Kollerup, Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs.

Download the new white paper Beyond Buildings HERE.

If you have any questions related to the Beyond Buildings white paper or Danish Cleantech Hub, please feel free to reach out to Mille Munksgaard, Advisor, at mimu@di.dk.

Smart City and Lighting Solution Providers: Interested in the US Market? Help Solve a NYC Smart Lighting Challenge

September 24, 2020 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / New York, Smart city, Urban planning


New York and its municipalities are on a mission to improve public services through the installation of Intelligent outdoor light as part of the “Smart Street Lighting NY” program. It has created an opportunity for Danish startups and SMEs to demonstrate coherent and solid multifunctional intelligent LED light solutions. Solutions, that are not only energy efficient, but also improves connectivity, public health and safety. So, are you a Danish based Lighting company, or maybe you produce the new smart application that New York’s municipalities need to hear about? Then this challenge program might be something for you!


To solve the challenge – the Danish Cleantech Hub and Gate21 have developed a program for Danish SMEs to encourage participation in solving the challenge. The program is a unique opportunity for you, to explore a new market and gain insights about potential partners, buyers and local market opportunities. Also, it provides you with an opportunity to pitch your solutions directly to the challenge owner, as well as other American public and private purchasers based on NYC.

The program is divided into two parts:
1) A day where we learn more about how to access the American lighting and Smart City-market, followed by a solution workshop to prepare for the pitch finale
2) A day with the opportunity to pitch your solution to a panel consisting of the challenge owners and other American public and private purchasers based on NYC.

Check out the program of the solution workshop day and the pitch finale HERE.


The challenge has been submitted by The VOREA Group, Long Island City Partnership and the International Nighttime Design Initiative and the goal is to turn the Campus at 12th street in Long Island City (NYC) into a viable and vibrant neighborhood hub for the community. With strategic implementation of smart lighting systems, that bring people together, the Campus at 12th Street is primed to be an iconic destination for Long Island City and across the five boroughs. Among others, the challenge owners wish to:

  • Attract customers to retail and hospitality offerings at night
  • Connectivity of campus
  • Safe outdoor space for community during COVID-19
  • Increase activity on sidewalks
  • Better street lighting

The challenge owners ask solution providers to propose two living lab themes within their pitch: 1) a showcase of best practice public lighting – beyond the street pole Lumiere typical and 2) facilitate community-based research such as surveys, interviews, quantitative counts etc., to understand how visitors can be attracted both new and old, how to attract new tenants and much more.

Through out the next week, Danish Cleantech Hub and Gate21 will collaborate with the challenge owners to prepare the challenge for the solution workshop day where it will be presented.


Participation in the program is free and developed for Danish SMEs that produce smart outdoor lighting components and producers of smart city solutions.

Register HERE or reach out to Mille Munksgaard from Danish Cleantech Hub at mimu@di.dk or Maja Yhde from Gate21 at maja.yhde@gate21.dk if you have any questions.



Seeking urban challenge owners: Business Match

April 21, 2020 / Posted by Tone SøndergaardTone Søndergaard / Circular economy, New York, Smart city, Urban planning

Looking for New Partners to Solve a Challenge?

Do you have a challenge you would liked solved by an international crossdisciplinary team of Nordic frontrunners? And co-create a solution with fellow passionadas from different fields of knowledge? Now is your chance! In a new free to program, international challenge owner can pitch a problem, and if selected, get a team of innovation solution providers to come up with new ideas. Challenge owners can be a city agency, a private developer, a solution provider or anything in between. This fall 2020 BLOXHUB is especially looking for challenges with a circular potential.

Bridging Urban Challenges of Today with Solutions of Tomorrow

BLOXHUB in Copenhagen matches the right people to help develop solutions, networks and new partnerships – to create better cities. The Business Match workshop program establishes partnerships with a potential of generating business nationally and internally, co-create concrete solutions or services on urban challenges and lift the participants innovation capacity into new cross-disciplinary business partnerships and opportunities nationally and internationally.

Contact Tone Søndergaard at tone@di.dk to learn more about Business Match

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.

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

The Case for Resiliency in Municipal Water

June 6, 2018 / Posted by adminadmin / New York, Urban planning, Urban water

In New York, maintaining municipal water assets has gained added significance in recent years with the high ambitions set forth by OneNYC — a comprehensive, multi-faceted strategy for the city’s development. Here, attention to water infrastructure is a prominent feature, identified within several of the strategy’s visions and subordinate initiatives.

These plans — perhaps most notably a net-zero energy target for the city’s 14 wastewater treatment plants by 2050 — position New York as a national leader in water solutions. Catalyzing evolution in New York’s water scene, the various goals are driving stakeholders to explore novel technologies for more efficient, sustainable water treatment and supply.

The net-zero goal, for instance, has led NYC’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop energy conservation measures across all 14 of the city’s WWTPs, including evaluation of opportunities for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations.

By the end of December 2017, construction had begun on a 12 MW cogeneration system at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant. And at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, waste-to-energy technology has been deployed as part of a codigestion demonstration project ramping up to process 250 tons food waste per day by June 2019, from 60 tons per day achieved in 2017.

“DEP is simultaneously meeting the ambitious OneNYC energy reduction goals and new energy-intensive water/wastewater quality regulatory mandates, while integrating and not sacrificing state-of-good-repair needs,” said Tara Deighan, DEP deputy press secretary, describing the utility provider as “becoming a progressive leader in sustainable operations and resource recovery, seeking the best investments for environmental and social solutions.”

There’s a “robust capital program” financing the aspirations too: N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo has made funding of blue infrastructure a priority, with $2.5 billion pledged for 2017-2018 alone.

Still, there is another aspect to the evolution of New York’s water scene, one characterized less by state-of-the-art technology and more by its approach to planning water assets.

Arcadis, a leading engineering firm heavily involved in NYC’s urban development scene, is contributing in no small part to this. “With changing climates, the new normal can be pretty extreme, and with the associated risks urban spaces must be designed to address these circumstances in a proactive, rather than reactive, manner,” said Edgar Westerhof, flood risk and resilience lead at Arcadis.

“Resiliency is about developing assets with an eye towards the future and recognizing how multiple urban systems are connected. It involves raising the bar wherever possible and assuring we’re building for this new normal while safeguarding asset functions of the past.”

A textbook example of Arcadis’s application of this systems-­based mindset is evidenced in its development of the Big U and Waterfront Resiliency Plan of Manhattan, which after much anticipation is slated to break ground on an initial 2.5-mile stretch of sea level defense around lower Manhattan later this year.

Alongside private actors embracing the new ways, so too are public bodies. DEP’s Office of Integrated Water Management is taking an active role in responding to these new circumstances. Leading the office is Alan Cohn, who told WaterWorld: “Resilience involves optimizing the system to absorb shocks more readily. Anything we can do to reduce demand on the system whilst optimizing our resources makes us more resilient to otherwise harmful events.”

Cohn explained that the office’s twofold focus prioritizes demand management (including water conservation) and climate resiliency: “We see the two as very much intertwined, as demand management is a central tool in our climate resilience toolbox when it comes to drinking water supply and sewage.”

Since New York operates a majority combined sewer system, water asset resiliency hinges upon recognition of relationships between combined sewer overflow, stormwater management and water quality.

A prime example of the value of this mindset in action presents itself in the increasingly critical context of tackling New York’s susceptibility to extreme rainfall, or ‘cloudburst’ events. Such events can overwhelm sewers and associated infrastructure, and create localized flooding. With the potential consequences as severe as they are, the circumstances prompted the DEP’s Cloudburst Resiliency Planning Study to assess risks and management strategies, and develop new solutions.

“With Cloudburst we recognized we cannot just upgrade infrastructure and build bigger pipes. Even if we did, there would always be a larger storm above the design standard,” said Cohn.

He continued: “The new perspective is that this isn’t a DEP problem but an issue we need to collectively understand and solve as a city. City agencies with property, streets or parks, need to ask how we can use groundwater management to address flooding and reduce discharge from sewers to harbor.”

Inspired by a program of cloudburst mitigation undertaken in Copenhagen, Denmark — and working with the city under a three-year MoU on cloudburst management that commenced in 2015 — DEP is applying a resiliency lens to address the threat.

Although not at the same scale as in Copenhagen, DEP has multiple cloudburst pilot projects underway. Here, in place of traditional engineering measures to manage stormwater runoff, investment is made in public spaces and so-called blue-green infrastructure. Examples include permeable pavement, rain gardens, and stormwater green streets — assets that can absorb high volumes of water in order to reduce damage to and stress on traditional assets where water would otherwise go.

Remarking on Arcadis’s experiences with similar infrastructure in Pittsburgh, Westerhof said: “We’ve seen that rather than large pumps and extended sewers to prevent flooding or handle water, success is possible through large-scale green infrastructure implementation and holistic solutions.”

Within a DEP demand management program, Cohn explained that incentives for retrofitting building plumbing geared towards reducing loads on sewer system and simultaneously saving on potable water is another kind of solution in play.

These novel solutions can necessitate interagency partnering and carry challenges of their own, but they bring positive consequences across all sorts of metrics high on the city’s political, social and environmental agendas.

“Assessing water supply savings, we’ve been able to quantify reductions in flow to individual WWTPs and consequent reduction in energy consumption for treatment, both before coming through pipes from reservoirs and energy used at WWTPs for treatment. There’s a clear environmental impact,” said Cohn, highlighting that this water-energy link hasn’t always been made explicit. With the aid of Water-Energy Nexus tools developed by DEP, however, it provides a compelling account of holistic approaches.

A DEP Water-Energy Nexus study that quantified benefits associated with four of DEP’s programs during 2015 — green infrastructure, water demand management and conservation, wetland restoration and water supply forestland protection — reports:

• 687 million gallons per year (MGY) of stormwater input to NYC’s 14 WWTPs was avoided via green infrastructure;

• 528 MGY of reduced water demand and associated wastewater treatment via conserving fixtures;

• 133 MGY of reduced water demand via repairs to leaking water mains.

Associated with the programs, the study calculated an estimated reduction in total emissions for 2015 of 178,000 metric tons (MT) of CO2 (which is equivalent to removing approximately 53,000 passenger cars from the road).

Urban green spaces provide recreation areas that align with much needed passive protection of urban watersheds. Image courtesy BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.


It’s against this backdrop of a progressive water sector that NY Blue Tech has been established. A public-private partnership, NY Blue Tech was co-founded last year by the Danish Cleantech Hub in concert with DEP, NYC Economic Development Corporation, Columbia University, and the Dutch Consulate. Touted as New York State’s first interdisciplinary and international water think-tank, its ethos echoes the city’s ambitions of instilling sustainability and resiliency into its water systems.

One of the co-founders of NY Blue Tech is Klaus Lehn Christensen, project director at Danish Cleantech Hub, a public-private partnership based in NYC working to accelerate cleantech solution sharing between Denmark and New York.

“We saw a need for a forum in which public, private, and academic stakeholders could convene and collaborate around emerging technology and solutions, particularly ones relevant to wastewater and stormwater management,” Christensen said of the network’s founding.

In February 2018, NY Blue Tech hosted its first mini-­conference. Examining the future of water in New York, it brought together the Commissioner of New York City’s public water utility, the Danish water-engineering consultancy DHI Group, the Regional Plan Association and Dutch ONE Architecture.

Such interdisciplinary activities — exploring the intersection of business, politics and civil society — are precisely the kind needed for the multi-sectoral resiliency approach. As Westerhof explained: “The transition we’re seeing towards collaborative planning and collaborative water management relies on people from various agencies coming together — people from public and private sectors, politics and economics, water treatment, parks, infrastructure and so on.”

“But it also requires confidence from local leaders to look towards other places where solutions have been successful before. The Copenhagen MoU is a great example of creating an agenda for collaboration,” he added.

It’s a sentiment shared by NY Blue Tech and Lehn Christensen, who said: “There’s a growing recognition for the value of integrated water management in New York and consequently there’s opportunity for the city to be adopting and adapting European models where these practices have matured somewhat already.”

To facilitate this, NY Blue Tech aims to support knowledge transfer of, for example, Danish water-tech solutions, channeling in proven solutions and expertise. “Introducing world-leading Danish water technology in a New York context is a great asset for the tech transfer and partnership aspirations of the NY Blue Tech network,” said Lehn Christensen.

Cohn, who has been involved in NY Blue Tech since its days on the drawing board, is enthusiastic for the platform created by the think tank, saying: “Showcasing examples from other cities and across the world where innovative solutions have been implemented is inspirational. Connecting people from multiple city agencies together, it becomes an occasion to discuss challenges, experiences and ideas when we simply wouldn’t have done so otherwise. It’s been exciting and I look forward to more to come.”

Artist rendering highlights coastal flooding initiatives featured within the BIG U project. Image courtesy BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

Cohn noted that whether it’s multiple agencies, departments or varied stakeholders from disparate industries, there can oftentimes be a disconnect between people seeking solutions to new and emerging problems and the groups with solutions. It’s an ubiquitous issue, but one NY Blue Tech aims to address. In particular, it’s pitched to facilitate the kind of public-private partnerships thought to lend themselves to a resiliency approach.

Describing the scale of challenges faced by water stakeholders amidst the new normal, Westerhof commented: “Solutions should and need to be a shared responsibility, with collaboration between public and private. But I’m confident [that] methodologies, tools, and financial models are evolving rapidly to include this collaborative thinking and planning.”

While cities throughout the U.S. are beginning to adopt systems-based resiliency approaches, it seems New York is getting ahead of the curve.

“We all agree that we’re facing challenges of our lifetimes when it comes to protecting a city like New York. But we’re seeing the city adopting new approaches and implementing things in an impressive way,” said Westerhof. “It’s not just talk, and a lot has been accomplished in the last five years. New York is definitely leading the charge.”

About the Author: William Steel is a freelance reporter covering renewable energy, water and cleantech industries.

Read the article

Solving the Blue Infrastructure Crisis

March 27, 2018 / Posted by adminadmin / New York, Urban planning, Urban water

On UN World Water Day together with the NY Blue Tech network and AECOM, Danish Cleantech Hub convened water infrastructure experts from the US and Europe for a trans-Atlantic half-day conference to share findings and best practices.

When addressing innovative funding models, critics assert that public-private partnerships enrich investors at taxpayers’ expense, are more expensive and less accountable, lead to public bailouts and do little to help rural areas. Proponents, on the other hand, say private financing is the only way to make up for the vicious circle of underinvestment in infrastructure, which causes delays and cost overruns.

As context for the overall US infrastructure crisis, The American Society of Civil Engineers grades the nation’s infrastructure a “D+,” estimating that the United States needs to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020. Yet, the US spends just 1.6 percent of its GDP on for example transportation infrastructure, compared to between 5-9 percent by most other developed nations in Europe and Asia.

Most water infrastructure facilities in the US were built in the early-to mid-20th century, and are nearing the end of their useful life. As a water supply example, 62,700 of the country’s 90,000 dams, or 69.3 percent, were constructed before 1970. The panelists included key corporate water industry players such as AECOM, Arcadis, Poseidon Water, as well as NYC’s Economic Development Corporation and Dutch non-profit Water Alliance

In his opening keynote, Chris Ward, Executive Vice President, Metro NYC Chief Executive at AECOM emphasized that “intrusion in nature comes with a price”. This hints at the fact that many of our current water-related infrastructure problems are caused by man’s interference in natural cycles, and that it is impossible to restore nature to what it was. Instead, we should aim at “reintegrate, or mimic, nature in our water-based infrastructure design” to make it future-proof. One example could be toadapt urban planning to pre-existing watersheds, which otherwise can flood urban development if ill-designed. With that, Mr. Ward also touched upon the theme of World Water Day 2018 – naturebased solutions as key for boosting resilience in our management of water resources.

The animated discussion in the panels delved into different innovative partnership approaches to financing, designing, building and operating water infrastructure. While the specialists agreed that there is not one silver bullet model for public-private financing of infrastructure, there was strong sentiment that the public sector needs a reality check in terms of assessing the actual risks cities are facing. In a US context, it was also stressed that local government partnerships with the private sector won’t be enough, hinting at lacking federal funding, as President Trump’s “$1.5 trillion infrastructure investment plan over the next decade” has yet to materialize.

Climate change is seen as a risk factor increases the urgency for acting now in order to future-proof critical water infrastructure assets – especially for coastal cities. Focusing on coastal flooding, the panelists argued for city government’s need to recognize that preventive adaptation measure most often are cheaper than recovery costs. Arcadis emphasized Boston as a timely example, having been flooded three times in the past year alone. On that note, the panelists agreed that we generally have to start valuing water as one of the most critical assets that it is. That natural disasters have a way of releasing financing and policy consensus was another key take-away provided by the panelists. When explaining why New York City rates as one of the frontrunner cities in the US when it comes to storm water resilience and wastewater management, there is no doubt that Hurricane Sandy in  3 2012 caused a bold, accelerated commitment to resilience that wouldn’t otherwise have happened. Rather than waiting for the next disaster, though, the panel agreed that many more public-private financing partnerships are needed to counter the actual critical infrastructure failure risks we are facing.

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