NYC Event Recap: Earth Day

YPT-NYC celebrated Earth Day by holding a presentation panel with experts in sustainability practices across the transportation industry.

Tom Abdallah, Chief Environmental Engineer for the Capital Program Management Department of MTA New York City Transit (NYCT), provided an overview of sustainable practices being employed by NYCT subway environment including outfitting support facilities with solar panels at Stillwell Terminal and green roofing at East 180th Street, which was the old New York, Westchester & Boston Railway station. Mr. Abdallah highlighted the vastly different political climate for environmentalism at the start of his career and how sustainability has become much more important in new transportation infrastructure.

20130422_193833Susanne DesRoches, Sustainable Design and Climate Adaptation Manager at The Port Authority of NY & NJ and faculty in the MS of Sustainability Management at Columbia University, gave an overview of the impact of superstorm Sandy on Port Authority facilities. Ms. DesRoches also stressed the importance of climate change resiliency—planning for the next climate event that may not be like anything we’ve seen before.  In fact, she recommends and is working on capital planning for disasters, in addition to regularly scheduled capital work.

William Dermody, Business Operational Risk Manager (BORM) for Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Asset’s (MIRA) North American funds, brought the finance aspect of sustainability to light. Macquarie encourages sustainable practices in its investments (which include toll roads, bridges and ports) not only because it is good for the environment, but also because it is good for business. To that end, Macquarie has set up a target and benchmarking process for sustainable practices for all its investments.  They prefer to have the goals set at Macquarie’s level, but leave the ideas and implementation to the organizations themselves as they are better suited to creatively solving their challenges.

Collette Ericsson, Chief Sustainability Officer for New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Bus Operations, spoke about various sustainable activities in Bus Operations like clean energy buses, traffic signal priority, bus lanes, and select bus service. Ms. Ericsson stressed the importance of bench marking and need for workforce development to grow future leaders.  She discussed using EUI (energy use intensity) as a metric for a building’s energy use and the challenges of promoting more sustainable practices by using cost benefit analysis.

This event gave members a chance to see sustainable practices in use in the public and private sectors, and how they are able to prioritize environmental awareness when resources are tight and meanwhile responding to natural disasters, such as superstorm Sandy. It showed us how climate change resiliency is an important aspect of sustainability, and how sustainability can be profitable for businesses.

Thanks to Elizabeth Paul for summarizing this event! Visit to learn about future events.

Elizabeth is an analyst in the Strategic Initiatives group at MTA Bridges and Tunnels, an agency that carries more traffic than any other bridge and tunnel authority in the nation. Her work involves strategic analysis in various toll collection technologies being considered for adoption, and assisting other B&T departments with fast-paced analysis as needed. She serves on the YPT-NYC board as the Co-Vice Chair of Programming.

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