NYU: We Will Build Plant Under Mercer Street

New York University announced on Wednesday that it will pursue construction of a new $110 million co-generation power plant under Mercer Street, between West 3rd and 4th streets. The construction will last around two years.

“The decision comes after months of conversation and negotiations between NYU and members of the local community, including Councilman Alan Gerson [and] Community Board 2,” NYU administrators said in a release.

While the decision is sure to please most of the larger Village community–no construction under Gould Plaza means that the classrooms below will largely remain intact and the some 600 students who use the rooms weekly will not be sent scattering around the area–the businesses and residents along that particular block of Mercer Street will surely be a little agitated: Namely, the residents of 250 Mercer (the Mercer Street Block Association) and the owner of Think Coffee, Jason Scherr. As The Observer reported earlier this month, they have been extremely vocal in their opposition to the proposed “Mercer Street Option.”

Full release after the jump.

- David Foxley

NYU Announces Site for New Co-Generation Plant

Mercer Street Option Selected Following Input from Local Community

New York University today announced the location of the new co-generation power plant will be under Mercer Street between West 3rd Street and West 4th Street. The decision comes after months of conversation and negotiations between NYU and members of the local community, including Councilman Alan Gerson, Community Board 2.

The upgrade and capacity expansion of NYU’s 30-year old co-generation plant will allow the University to significantly reduce pollutants and emissions in the area. It will also significantly increase efficiency and allow NYU to take an additional 23 buildings off of the over-taxed power grid, bringing the total amount of buildings powered by co-generation to 30.

“We are extremely pleased that we were able to work with the community to come to a decision on this,” said Dr. Alicia D. Hurley, NYU Associate Vice President for Government and Community Affairs. “This is a really good project that is beneficial not only to NYU, but the local community and even the world, and it was important to us that the community be a part of the conversation.”

The new co-generation, or Combined Heat and Power (CHP), technologies support the generation of heat and power from the same fuel source that uses thermal energy for heating and cooling. The benefits to NYU’s installation of this new equipment include significant reductions in emissions, increased energy efficiency, and decreased reliance on the already-taxed power grid.

The project will take approximately two years to construct and the approved siting of the plant on Mercer Street will allow all of the equipment to be placed below ground. At the end of the project, NYU will build a vibrant, green public space above the site. The University will launch the process of the re-designed space in the next few months and will rely heavily on community input in that process.

“All of the scientific evidence points to the fact that we are facing a global crisis and it is incumbent upon universities and other large institutions to emerge as leaders in committing to the reduction of our environmental footprint,” continued Dr. Hurley. “This project allows us, in one fell swoop, to dramatically reduce pollution and emissions and our hope is that this will start our conversation with the community to explore other ways to be an environmentally sound community.”

The project is the mainspring of NYU’s “Green Action Plan,” which was announced by Michael Alfano, NYU’s executive vice president, in October with the goal of improving NYU’s environmental footprint and saving energy. At that time, the University announced the purchase of 118,000,000 KWh of wind energy, the largest of any university in the U.S. or any institution in New York City. In January, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced the nation’s top 25 “Green Power Purchasers” and NYU ranked number thirteen and first among the nation’s universities.

NYU and the community had considered the option of putting the co-generation plant partially under Gould Plaza and partially under Mercer Street, but came to a consensus that Mercer Street would be the most beneficial and least disruptive to the wider community. After multiple months of meetings and discussions, Manhattan Community Board 2 voted unanimously (with seven abstentions) in favor of locating the project under the Mercer Plaza.