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Sustainability and Environmental Engineering

On December 15, 2020, the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) in partnership with The School Construction Authority (SCA) presented to ACE Team 8 on Sustainability & Environmental Engineering. ACE Team 8 is an affiliate of the ACE Mentor Program of America. ACE is an afterschool program designed to encourage high school students to pursue careers in Architecture, Construction and Engineering industry. ACE Team 8, led by the STEAM Initiatives team. ACE Team 8 is made up of 25 public school students from neighborhoods all over New York city. Team 8 also has 7 mentor professionals from DDC and the SCA.

ACE mentor Ankita Nalavade, Sustainability Coordinator in the Infrastructure Division, and guest lecturer Christopher Diamond, Director of Sustainable Design, presented on Sustainability & Environmental Engineering. Ms. Nalavade, discussed climate change, and the importance of sustainability. She also explained System Thinking and how to identify Sustainability Indicators. System thinking is a way of helping a person to view systems from a broad perspective that includes seeing overall structures, patterns and cycles in system.

Mr. Diamond discussed sustainability indicators, specifically Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED). He explained how buildings receive LEED certification and the various levels of LEED. LEED is a system for rating building on how sustainable they are. The integrative process, location & transportation, sustainable sites and energy & atmosphere are some ways buildings can gain LEED credits.

Ankita and Christopher led an exercise where students were broken up into five groups with each group given a Envision or LEED case study and a credit checklist. The students had to read the case, go through the credit checklist and select relevant applicable credits.

Group 1 was assigned an Envision case study of the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Program.

Group 2 was given an Envision case study to upgrade the 26th Ward Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Group 3 was assigned LEED case study of the Bronx River House.

Group 4 was assigned LEED case study of the Bronx County Hall of Justice.

Group 5 was assigned LEED case study of the Queens Botanical Garden Visitor and Administration Center in Flushing, Queens.

The presentations and exercises also enabled ACE Team 8 to discuss detailed facets of the CIRT Competition prompts. For the 2021 competition, student will select from the following design projects:

  1. A Homeless Shelter where they will create a functional, modern, welcoming shelter that addresses the needs of its occupants as it relates to health, safety, treatment and nourishment.
  2. A Manufacturing Center where students can plan, develop, and crate a local site/hub to attract manufacturing/supply chain resources to meet the needs of the United States or
  3. The retrofit a school, students are tasked with reimagining, retrofitting, or otherwise redesigning and constructing entire or portions of a school to meet the health, safety and social needs in our current and/or post pandemic communities.

In the weeks to come Team 8 students will be voting on the project they find most practical and serviceable. In the New Year they will begin to plan and design their final project.

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 long-term vision 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, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 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