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September 28, 2017

Expert Examines Climate Change at “DDC Talks” Lecture Series

Dan Leibel

Long Island City, NY – Dr. Michela Biasutti, a Lamont Associate Research Professor at Columbia University whose research includes precipitation extremes and future changes to the seasonal cycle, addressed climate change and how it can potentially affect New York City in the September installment of the monthly lecture series ‘DDC Talks,’ which presents lecturers from around the country to speak to the City’s design and construction professionals.

“Climate change is an issue that the world must face together and DDC is proud to be a key part of Mayor de Blasio’s 80 X 50 initiative, designing the City’s infrastructure and public buildings for long-term environmental sustainability,” said DDC Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio. “The sharing of knowledge by experts such as Dr. Biasutti helps DDC professionals meet the City’s goals for greenhouse gas reduction.”

“New York City is home to a wealth of knowledge and data, and is leading when it comes to combatting climate change,” said Dr. Biasutti. “I am happy to be here, where there is a resilient society along with resilient infrastructure and robust public transportation options. I’m proud of the City, but we need to continue to do even more to stop global warming from becoming an unsolvable problem.”

Global temperatures have risen nearly 1.5 degrees Celsius since 1850, greatly due to a man-made buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, said Dr. Biasutti. Additional global indicators show more frequent heat waves, in addition to retreating glaciers and rising sea levels. The northeast region of the United States has seen a 71 percent increase in heavy rainfall since 1958, while data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show an increase of nearly 100 parts-per-million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in that same time.

September’s ‘DDC Talks’
Dr. Michaela Biasutti of Columbia University presents data about coastal flooding at September’s ‘DDC Talks’ lecture

The projections for New York City’s average climate and extreme weather events are bleak if current carbon emissions are sustained on a global level, said Biasutti. Average annual temperatures in the City are projected to increase by approximately five degrees Fahrenheit by the 2050’s; sea levels are expected to rise between one to two feet; and average annual precipitation is projected to increase by approximately 11 percent. Queens is the borough with the most land area at risk of future coastal flooding due to sea level rise, followed by Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Manhattan, she said.

Cities occupy only two percent of global land mass yet are responsible for up to 70 percent of greenhouse gases.

DDC has long been a leader in sustainable design and energy efficiency, and its High Performance Building Guidelines, published in 1999, was one of the first documents of its kind in the country. The agency employs numerous strategies in its designs to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including green roofs, solar panels, geothermal climate control systems and high-efficiency lighting and machinery.

Several new public building projects DDC is managing are designed to have a Fossil Fuel Energy Use Intensity (FFEUI) of zero, including a new NYPD Bomb Squad facility in the Bronx and a new Taxi & Limousine Commission inspection facility in Queens. DDC also recently installed solar charging stations outside its Queens headquarters to power its fleet of electric vehicles.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit