Timeline showing the initial phase of construction on the Eastern yards through the project's completion in 2018.
This "quantified community" is a real-life urban laboratory for connected living, and its future, deep-pocketed residents will be its well-kept lab rats. CUSP, a 2-year-old NYU program born of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Applied Sciences initiative, is the brains behind this real estate operation from developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties. They're the ones outlining which aspects of life will be measured when the first building, 10 Hudson Yards, opens in 2015; what sensors to install and the equipment used to make them. For CUSP, the opportunity at Hudson Yards is twofold: The site presents a unique look at the impact urban development has on a city vis-à-vis pollution and waste, as well as a chance for the center to model and analyze scientific assumptions regarding energy and water usage.
Constantine Kontokosta, department director for CUSP, said his team's just beginning to refine exactly what to prioritize for phase one of the construction. Air quality, noise levels, energy and water usage: These are all things Kontokosta believes can be tracked and meaningfully analyzed to not only help make life better for residents of Hudson Yards, but also make New York and other cities "more resilient."
This "quantified community" is a real-life urban laboratory for connected living, and its future, deep-pocketed residents will be its well-kept lab rats.
It's an especially weighty concern after the devastation that wracked much of the city in late 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. That frankenstorm caused rampant flooding in much of lower Manhattan that led to evacuations for the city's residents and the shutdown of subway stations, tunnels and streets. It even forced Con Edison to preemptively cut off power in parts of the financial district to avoid damage to its underground electrical systems. Thad Sheely, SVP of operations at Related Companies, pointed to the fallout from that natural disaster when describing the Yard's multipronged energy-management system.
"We're trying to think about it both from a sustainability perspective and efficiency ... but also from a redundancy side of things," Sheely said. "So if a Sandy event happens, we would still have power and be able to turn our buildings on."
Resiliency, redundancy, future-proofing: These are the big-picture buzzwords that get thrown around about Hudson Yards. The idea is that you can build a neighborhood that won't go down when disaster strikes; a haven of self-sustainability powered by Con Edison, diesel and an on-site cogen (natural gas/heat) power plant. "We have all these different energy sources and we want to make sure we're managing them effectively," Sheely said. "And why that's important is that in some ways, we're creating almost a micro-grid."
That micro-grid is the lynchpin of the Yards. But like the site's other high-concept, high-tech aspects, Related Companies hasn't yet nailed down specifics for this energy platform's creation. Though, discussions with "tech providers and vendors to create a master building-management system" are ongoing. When the grid is eventually completed, Sheely said the idea is to have an open-source protocol that can connect and manage the various, intelligent moving parts of the Yards -- the waste-management system, the energy grid, the sensor data -- while delivering insights based on all of that incoming data. The end goal, he admits, is cost savings.
"When we think about combining that data with some of the sensor data and the opt-in individual data about people flows and traffic ... to be able to have some predictive analytics about that we think will be really interesting," Sheely said. "It could determine your energy buy."