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NU A Finalist for the Competition to Build a Climate Facility on Governors Island
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NU A Finalist for the Competition to Build a Climate Facility on Governors Island

NU A Finalist in Competition to Build Climate Facility on Governors Island


Northeastern University was selected as a finalist for a global competition to create a climate-focused research hub and education hub in New York Harbor.

The competition invited uni­ver­si­ties and research insti­tu­tions from around the world to submit proposals to build an anchor institution on Governors Island dedicated to conducting climate research and combating the broader environmental crisis, with particular emphasis on shoring up New York City’s climate resilience. 

The Governors Island Trust is a non-profit that oversees the island’s 172 acres. In partnership with New York City, it issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFI) in June. 

David Luzzi, senior vice president for research and head of Northeastern’s COVID-19 testing operation, poses for a portrait. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Northeastern will lead a consortium consisting of several organizations to develop the proposal. Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions. Northeastern’s partners in the effort include the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, based in Falmouth, Cape Cod; The University of Tokyo; and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. 

The future climate facility would be equipped with all the necessary tools to combat climate change. It would include deep ocean and sea-level rise as well urban heat island effects on cities and their surrounding areas. David LuzziNortheastern’s senior vice provost, Research 

“From the beginning we decided that our approach was going to be one that covered the complete range of challenges associated with climate change, including the challenges they pose to global coastal cities, such as New York City,” Luzzi, who is overseeing the Northeastern proposal, said. 

The partnership, called the Coastal Cities Impact Team, has articulated a vision for how to “program, build, and oper­ate” the facility, which would devel­op solu­tions to help ready com­mu­nities for cli­mate change, and cre­ate edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams to sup­port the development of green jobs in New York City. 

The team’s plans for the site include building “laboratory space, space for start-up companies and entrepreneurs to collaborate on research projects, overnight accommodations, and a public exhibition hall with interactive learning displays.” To that end, Northeastern’s vision for the research center includes housing scientists, engineers and social scientists in a multidisciplinary approach that tackles not only the science of climate change, but its social consequences born of the inequalities it produces, Luzzi said.

“We have built a partnership dedicated to three things: Climate adaptation, climate science, and climate justice,” Luzzi said. 

The consortium, led by Northeastern, is also partnering up with a number of New York stakeholders including the City University of New York (CUNY) and the New School.

“Our Coastal Cities Impact Team would look forward to strong collaboration with the K-12 educational institutions in New York City, including the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governors Island,” Luzzi said. 

Katie Lotterhos, associate professor of marine and environmental sciences, recently received two prestigious awards: a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, and a Fulbright scholarship.

The four finalists were announced by Bill de Blasio, New York City Mayor. The New School; City University of New York; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are the other finalists. De Blasio praised the finalists for putting forward “thoughtful, bold proposals.”

 “Governors Island is a jewel of our harbor, and today we’re taking an important step toward transforming it into the nerve center for our city’s fight against climate change,” he said.

New York City and The Trust set aside $150 Million in capital funding to support the project. Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions. Officials from the city and trust estimate that the project could create 7,000 jobs on the island, with an estimated $1 billion economic impact for New York City.

“Addressing the climate crisis through inclusive and cross-sector approaches is imperative for cities, and an opportunity that New York City is poised to lead,” Clare Newman, president and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island, said. “The Center for Climate Solutions will advance New York City’s leadership in generating the innovative solutions needed to create a resilient future for cities around the world, while expanding the training and education needed to provide pathways to green jobs.”

Finalists will submit a finalized proposal by spring 2022.

Media inquiries, please contact [email protected].


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