At Con Edison, Earth Week Means Biodiversity Benefits for All

con edison earth day

Every week is Earth Week at Con Edison. The company prioritizes New York’s transition to clean energy year round, but according to Con Edison’s chairman and chief executive Tim Cawley, “Many New Yorkers aren’t aware of exactly how this transition will benefit them.”

For starters, Cawley would point New Yorkers to the company’s Strategic Action Plan on Biodiversity. Announced last year, it solidified Con Edison’s commitment to fighting climate change and building a sustainable future, and they’re doing it in the following ways:

  • The installation of “soft” shorelines with native vegetation to increase shoreline resiliency and biodiversity. Newtown Creek’s living shoreline project, scheduled to begin later this year, will rehabilitate native marshland along Con Edison’s property in Brooklyn.
  • Planting of trees has the potential to reduce urban heat island effect by up to 6 degrees. By the end of 2024, Con Edison will complete three acres of rewilding in their service territories in Yonkers, Staten Island, and northern Manhattan, designated Environmental Justice areas that will add greenery to disadvantaged communities. 
  • The company is building green roofs on new substations, which reduces the risk of flooding. Con Edison’s Brooklyn Clean Energy Hub — LEED-certified and one of the main hubs to connect offshore renewable energy to the NYC power grid — will incorporate solar panels, rain collection systems, and other sustainable infrastructure pieces.
con edison earth day
Rewilding project on Con Edison’ land: Before.

Additionally, Con Edison has partnered with Orange & Rockland Utilities and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. They will assess 120 acres to determine their potential for biodiversity projects.

con edison earth day
Rewilding project: After

The plan notes that half of bee species are in decline and a quarter of them are at risk of extinction. The assessment will help the company support native species on those lands, including critical pollinators.

One way to do this is to “rewild” the company’s own properties. The plan notes that replacing a manicured lawn eliminates the need to mow. A gas-powered mower creates carbon emissions — responsible for up to five percent of the nation’s air pollution, according to the EPA. Measured in terms of volatile organic compounds,  one hour of mowing is the equivalent of driving 350 miles.

Along with restoring properties on land, the assessment articulates how Con Edison is making its waterfront properties more resilient. Pilot projects in the works include ecologically friendly concrete in the company’s shoreline structures to support the growth of the oyster population.

con edison earth day
The Billion Oyster Project based on Governor’s Island.

And this spring, Con Edison plans to implement a marine enhancement study which will determine how operations affect aquatic life.

“These investments are not just for the planet,” said Con Edison chairman Cawley, “but also for the lives of our customers and the communities we serve.”

Venetia Lannon, VP, Environment, Health and Safety, concurs. “We set high expectations throughout our operations and are aiming for a ‘net-positive impact’ on biodiversity, which aligns with our mission to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve.”

Con Edison is always thinking of sustainability, biodiversity, and the role they’ll play in the future. For more information check out the Con Edison website here.