There are many things inherently sustainable about an urban industrial park: the proximity to the customer base, business-to-business networking opportunities, access to a diverse local workforce, access to alternative modes of transportation, and good paying industrial jobs that stabilize communities. Combine that with a commitment to state-of-the-art green infrastructure investments and clean operations and the result is the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
A national model for sustainable urban industrial parks, the Navy Yard recently opened the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, where the public has an opportunity to visit – and tour – this eco-industrial park and go on a factory tour.
Once the nation’s preeminent ship building facility, today the Navy Yard’s 4.5 million square feet of leasable space is currently 99 percent occupied, with more than 275 tenants who have 5,800 employees – up from 3,600 in 2001. Since BLDG 92 opened, droves of adventurous New Yorkers and tourists have explored the Yard’s grounds by bus or bike, learning about the 30+ green manufacturers, including: IceStone, a nationally recognized manufacturer of countertops made from recycled glass; Duggal, a graphics and displays company on the cutting edge of renewable energy lighting; ARES Printing & Packaging, a pioneer of green packaging and sustainable printing; Scott Jordan Furniture, a manufacturer of Shaker-style furniture that uses only eco-finishes and locally-sourced and sustainably harvested wood; and Capsys, manufacturer of modular homes and buildings. The industrial businesses thriving in the Navy Yard not only diversify the city’s economy but also employ the workers who help build middle class communities and a more “sustainable” city.
Voted “Best Tour in New York City” by New York Magazine, the bus and sustainability bike tours leave from BLDG 92 and cover the entire 300-acre waterfront site, exploring landmarks, a Civil-war era hospital campus, working dry docks, and countless sustainability projects in the Yard. These include the city’s first building-mounted wind turbines, the nation’s first solar/wind powered street lamps, and over a dozen twelve green buildings.
Half of the fun of being in this hotbed of green innovation and technology is getting into its spaces. On July 27, BLDG 92 kicks off its factory tour offerings with IceStone, a cutting-edge green manufacturer with global cache as one of the most sustainably-minded companies. A family-friendly sustainability scavenger hunt uses the entire complex to interpret elements like the geothermal system in place, local sourcing, storm-water management, rainwater harvesting, embodied energy and adaptive reuse. Visitors will have the opportunity to handle the raw materials, see production in action, and take a piece of IceStone home.
IceStone – arguably the world’s safest and most sustainable durable surface – is made out of glass from landfills that have been transformed – via an environmentally-friendly manufacturing process – into countertops that rival the strength and beauty of quarried stone. A “triple bottom line company,” IceStone offers a perfect glimpse into all things green at the Yard as it is committed to developing products that foster a sustainable environment – both inside and outside the factory walls.
They are also one of 20 tenants whose products or services were used in the construction of BLDG 92, helping it to achieve LEED Platinum status from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest designation for green building design.
Surrounded by residential communities and undergoing a significant expansion, going green was the right decision for the Navy Yard. Efforts to engage the community through regular tours, school programs and an on-site Employment Center are helping to change the face of the Navy Yard, strengthen its community presence and promote greater understanding of its rich history and opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and the jobs of the future.
Aisha Glover is the Vice President of External Affairs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. Using her expertise in fundraising, community outreach and public relations, Mrs. Glover was instrumental in the opening of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at Building 92 and plays a key role in promoting the Yard as a national model for sustainable industrial parks.