This article was originally published in the USGBC+ spring 2022 issue. Read the full article.
Climate-related extreme weather events are on the rise, and they’re taking their toll on the world’s power infrastructure. In February 2021, snowstorms in Texas knocked out power for over four million people. In August 2021, Hurricane Ida left over a million Louisianans in the dark, some for weeks. One in three Americans were impacted by an extreme climate-related event in the summer of 2021 alone.
These increasing risks have particularly affected mission-critical sectors like health care. With lives on the line, facilities like NYU Langone Health in New York and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania are investing in resilience to ensure that emergency services don’t face emergencies on their own campuses.
NYU Langone Health in Manhattan, New York
NYU Langone Health’s Manhattan main campus, an integrated academic medical center of 9,300 employees spread over 3.5 million square feet, stands as a pillar of community health in New York City. As the first campus to achieve both LEED Platinum certification and PEER Platinum certification for its resilient power infrastructure, the center advocates for health care resilience and sustainability.
After Hurricane Sandy, NYU Langone staff hit the ground running to address the vulnerabilities the disaster highlighted. A sweeping overhaul of the large campus included the installation of an 11-megawatt combined heat and power plant, two 150,000-pound-per-hour backup boilers, and 25 megawatts of emergency backup diesel generation.
“We refreshed our hazard vulnerability assessment process, revamped our approach to infrastructure resiliency, prioritized using forward-looking data that took climate change into account, and began to involve more staff and departments, so that resiliency became a part of our culture as an organization,” explains Jenna Agins, the energy and sustainability manager for NYU Langone Health. “In the years that followed, we went through a significant transformation of our campus and embedded all of these aspects into the design and operations of our facilities and programs.”
“PEER showed us what information was of industry value and provided a standard for measurement,” notes Agins. “I also think the certification allowed us to more easily describe and quantify our resiliency investments and how they benefit our immediate community.”