Brian Libby at City Lab: “By the time Constantine Kontokosta got involved with New York City’s Hudson Yards development, it was already on track to be historically big and ambitious.
Over the course of the next decade, developers from New York’s Related Companies and Canada-based Oxford Properties Group are building the largest real-estate development in United States history: a 28-acre neighborhood on Manhattan’s far West Side over a Long Island Rail Road yard, with some 17 million square feet of new commercial, residential, and retail space.
Hudson Yards is also being planned as an innovative model of efficiency. Its waste management systems, for example, will utilize a vast vacuum-tube system to collect garbage from each building into a central terminal, meaning no loud garbage trucks traversing the streets by night. Onsite power generation will prevent blackouts like those during Hurricane Sandy, and buildings will be connected through a micro-grid that allows them to share power with each other.
Yet it was Kontokosta, the deputy director of academics at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), who conceived of Hudson Yards as what is now being called the nation’s first “quantified community.” This entails an unprecedentedly wide array of data being collected—not just on energy and water consumption, but real-time greenhouse gas emissions and airborne pollutants, measured with tools like hyper-spectral imagery.
New York has led the way in recent years with its urban data collection. In 2009, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed Local Law 84, which requires privately owned buildings over 50,000 square feet in size to provide annual benchmark reports on their energy and water use. Unlike a LEED rating or similar, which declares a building green when it opens, the city benchmarking is a continuous assessment of its operations…”