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New York’s airport operator unveils pioneering ‘Clean Construction Program’


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has announced the implementation of a Clean Construction Program, which it claims is one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind among US transportation agencies as it is designed to reduce carbon emissions throughout the design and construction processes.

This important measure ensures that a minimum of 75% of concrete, asphalt, and steel construction waste is diverted from landfills and incorporates LEED and Envision-equivalent standards for environmentally-friendly infrastructure design, advancing its commitment to reducing emissions and leading the transportation sector towards a low-carbon and more sustainable future.

According to PANYNJ, the Clean Construction Program, builds on the agency’s guidelines for sustainable design for buildings and infrastructure, will reduce “embodied carbon” (the carbon emissions generated from the manufacturing and transportation of construction materials and on-site construction activity), promote the circular economy (reusing materials to increase their lifespans), and reduce air pollution from construction across all facilities through six specific initiatives:

• Incorporation of LEED and Envision-equivalent standards during infrastructure design

• Specification for low carbon concrete: reduces the required cement content in certain concrete mixes by 25%, significantly reducing its carbon intensity and allowing for lower-carbon alternatives

• Pilot projects to develop low carbon concrete and materials

• Requirement for Environmental Product Declaration: enables systematic collection of environmental data directly from construction contractors to help inform more environmentally focused material selection

• Waste matching for concrete, asphalt and soil: creates a platform for waste matching across Port Authority construction sites to reduce waste sent to landfills and the truck trips required to bring materials to and from construction sites

• Requirement for low emissions vehicles on-site: specifies that large diesel construction equipment must be Tier 4 or newer to ensure the cleanest models available are used for agency projects

The requirements outlined in the Clean Construction Program will apply to all new projects, and many are already being embedded into ongoing work, including the LaGuardia Airport and Newark Airport Terminal One redevelopments.

At LaGuardia Airport, nearly 22,000 tons of concrete was recycled from the demolition of the original Terminal B parking structure and approximately 2,475 tons of this recycled concrete were reused on the adjacent job site.

Truck travel during demolition of the old airport has been reduced by 250,000 miles, the equivalent of 10 trips around the world, due to the creation of a concrete recycling facility on site.

As part of the ongoing construction for the Terminal One Redevelopment Program at Newark Liberty International Airport, over 30,820 tons of asphalt, 101,511 tons of concrete, and 61,597 tons of soil have already been recycled for the construction of the new Terminal One, Bridge N60 Frontage Road Bridge and Pedestrian Bridge, connecting pedestrians to the new terminal’s departures level.

“As one of the key economic drivers in the region, we continue to make smart investments to reduce our carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices across the region,” says Port Authority chairman, Kevin O’Toole.

“We are leading the way toward a more sustainable future because now more than ever we must all be committed to protecting our environment.”

Executive director, Rick Cotton, notes: “We are committed to building our facilities to meet world-class, 21st century environmental standards in alignment with the aggressive goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

“As the first transportation agency to sign on to the climate accords, our Clean Construction Program will set new standards in the region and the world for sustainable building practices through measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve energy and improve air quality in our host communities.”

The Clean Construction program is a key element of PANYNJ’s sustainability agenda, which includes aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets outlined in the agency’s first-in-sector commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

It has committed to reducing emissions 35% by 2025, and 80% by 2050, and in order to achieve these goals, the Port Authority is targeting seven specific areas of sustainability and environmental action across the agency: clean electric vehicles; energy efficiency; solar and renewable energy programs; building “green” facilities; clean ship practices for ocean-going vessels; offshore wind; and partnering to combat climate change.

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