Sustainable Practices at BPC Parks
In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed its 2007 findings and issued a report stating “It is extremely likely (95-100%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”. Only an immediate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could limit catastrophic effects to human and natural systems worldwide.
Climate change may well be the most important environmental issue of the 21st century. How do we begin to address a problem so monumental? Start small and continue one step at a time. Each of us can help reduce carbon emissions, and we can encourage others to do so, too.
Since its establishment in 1987, Battery Park City Parks Conservancy has been a green workplace – inside and out – having adopted sustainable practices in all its operations. “Nineteen years ago, what we were doing was revolutionary,” says BPCPC Executive Director Tessa Huxley. “Now many of our practices are commonly found not only in the business arena, but also in the home.” Here are just a few of these practices:
- Waterless urinals – retrofit and new installation
- Use of proportioner to ensure proper use of chemicals (even when they are non-toxic) to reduce use to a minimum
- Use of least toxic snow melt – cut 50% with recycled sand (from playgrounds)
- Hand weeding of cobblestone sidewalk bands rather than herbicide application
- Electric vehicles, charged after 8 PM to reduce peak power demand
- Work bicycles
- Non-VOC paints
- Non-toxic cleaning materials
- Soy bean based graffiti remover
- No disposable plates, mugs, silverware, glasses in staff kitchen
- Non-toxic pest (rat) control
- Electric eye water faucets and toilets in public restrooms
- Enamel rather than painted signs
- Walk off mats at public restroom and community space facilities
- Collection of rainwater and treated black water for irrigation in Teardrop Park
- Primary use of compact fluorescents in office and workshops
- Electric eye light switches in offices detect motion and turn off automatically when not in use
- “Daylighting” of work space
- Water play features controlled by (a) master time clock and (b) child controlled start button – running for 15 minutes only, allows significant reduction of water use
- Water play feature in Teardrop Park recycles water for the day to reduce water use without health issues or need for chemical treatment
- 100% use of sustainably harvested lumber (double the cost)
- Use of “green” building materials in new construction
- Office/workshop thermostats kept at 80 degrees in summer and 68 degrees in winter
- Created of successful containerization program with NYC DOS to keep domestic trash of the streets to reduce rat population without poisons
- Recycling program with NYC DOS in the parks for cans, bottles, and newspaper.
- Experimental program for retrofitting of street lights with energy efficient fixtures – less power used and much longer life of fixture
- Recycle fluorescent light bulbs and ballasts
- Recycle motor oil
- Recycle batteries – of both BPCPC and BPC residents
- HQ building – certified Platinum LEED rating
- Use of treated black water to wash down BPCPC equipment, trash room, and HQ Atrium floor
- Composting of all garden and park waste. Managing feed stocks to produce fungal and bacterially dominant composts and putting them back in the proper plant eco system. Aerobic process (done inside BPCPC HQ)
- Chipping of Christmas trees for use in composting operation
- Collection of vegetable and fruit waste from local grocery stores
- Collection of coffee grounds from local coffee shops
- Collection of fruit and vegetable waste from staff and local residents
- Creation of and application of compost teas to augment biological activity in soils to promote a proper nutrient cycle, including the testing of soil for biological activity (beneficial fungi, bacterial, and nematodes)
- Non-toxic pest and disease control for plants, including the use of beneficial insects and nematodes
- Building an efficient nutrient cycling system to significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen applied. BPCPC has not fertilized a planting bed or tree in over five years. In lawns, we do biological testing and simply make up the additional nitrogen required. BPCPC has reduced the use of nitrogen by 75% since our inception.
- Careful choice of plants to reduce pest and disease problems. Planning plantings in relation to plant communities. Putting plants together that thrive in the same conditions in relation to soil biology, moisture, wind exposure and light.
- Soil Specifications: Start out with proper specifications in terms of soil texture and biology.
- Pruning of trees and shrubs in a manner that follows the natural growth habits of those plants
- No fertilizers used for annuals, shrubs, perennials or trees
- Keep length of lawn grass at 3” to protect crown of plants and weed control.
- Irrigation: Irrigation practice to promote deep root growth. Stressing plants slightly to force deeper root growth leads to conservation of water and healthier landscape.
PARKS PROGRAMMING & ADMINISTRATION
- Programming used to explain the natural world and sustainable work of BPC Parks.
- 100% post-consumer waste copier paper.
- Vegetable ink and 100% post consumer used in paper for postcards, brochures, and calendars.
- Education of the public such as walking tours of sustainability, nature and stewardship of the river and land.
- Give lectures to professional groups.
- Authors of the BPC Green Guidelines.
- Collection and use of commercial and residential compost materials also helps build community through awareness and participation.
- Art Programs use recycled materials from the parks such as toilet paper tubes, clipping and branches from the gardens, shoeboxes from local stores, discarded newspapers, and boxes from deliveries.
- Parks Programming offers marine education, Explorers Club, youth gardening clubs and other activities to help ensure the next takes an active role in understanding and practicing sustainability in their daily lives.
BIC – 483184