The Urban Sustainability Extension Service (USES)
CISC and Local Partners Working to Develop A Model Block of Sustainability Action in East Harlem.
The Urban Sustainability Extension Service (USES) is the Institute’s initiative to bring Hunter College and Community partners together to develop neighborhood-scale sustainability initiatives. Currently, we are working with cultural, governmental, and environmental organizations including the Manhattan Borough President’s Office and the New York Restoration Project to develop A Model Block of Sustainability Action in East Harlem.
This initiative is a direct reflection of the Institute’s mission to look at whole cities as part of the solution to global sustainability challenges, as well as its focus on the potential for ecosystem services to benefit and restore urban environments. The goal of the project is to: develop a site for action-oriented, demonstrable sustainability interventions within East Harlem, as an innovative approach to greenhouse gas emission reduction (climate change mitigation). It includes a three step work plan. 1) An assessment of social and ecological resources on a specific city block (the particular block to be identified through consultation with the project partners), 2) The development of a Storefront for Sustainability and pilot demonstration project and 3) The creation of an online, participatory platform (blog), and guide that outlines resources available for neighborhood sustainavists.
The Model Block for Sustainability Action is directly built on the notion that the urban city block is a critical unit for action toward sustainability practices that can be displayed and made accessible to a wider set of community members and interest groups than previously possible. Core to the project’s blueprint is the idea that urban design should reflect natural processes to best serve its residents and promote sustainability. From sun light, to street trees, to storm water flows, there are opportunities to learn from natural systems and engage with bio-mimicry practices in urban design. The initiative will focus on the promotion and demonstration of block-level strategies to utilize a range of ecosystem services that promote energy savings and associated greenhouse gas emission reduction. These services include more direct approaches such as: 1) Summertime cooling via vegetation and greening and 2) Alternative energy via passive and active solar energy, as well as more indirect approaches such as: 1) Food production via window and small plot gardening, and 2) Storm water management via blue roof and water retention/detention strategies.
We are actively working to develop the USES project and will use the CISC blog and website to report on progress as we move the initiative forward. For more information, please email Carina Molnar.