Javits Center to become city’s solar leader

Photo of Javits roof (3) – courtesy Javits Center

BY GABE HERMAN | The Javits Center is taking a shine to sun power in a big way.

Governor Cuomo recently announced that a developer has been selected to design and install more than 4,000 solar panels on the roof of the Chelsea-based convention center. It will be the city’s biggest rooftop solar project to date.

Siemens, a company that produces energy-efficient technology, was selected for the project, which will offset the building’s electric load.

An estimated 1.3 million pounds of carbon emissions will be offset annually, or the equivalent of removing 262 cars from the road, according to the March 20 announcement.

The Javits Center’s rooftop will be getting a slew of solar panels. But they won’t cover up the building’s existing rooftop. Instead they’ll be placed over existing HVAC systems. (Courtesy Javits Center)

Construction of the rooftop solar grid is scheduled to begin in early 2020. Siemens will own and operate the solar panels. The New York Power Authority will then purchase the solar energy, and sell it to the Javits Center.

Along with the rooftop solar panels, there will be a street-level solar array along 11th Ave.

Cuomo touted the Javits Center project as part of his Green New Deal, which aims for New York State’s electricity to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2040. The plan also calls for 70 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

“New York State is leading the nation in advancing bold actions for a cleaner, greener energy system that also spurs economic growth,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Installing solar technology on the roof of the busiest convention center in the United States sets an industry standard for venues throughout New York and across the nation on how best to embrace renewable energy.”

The Javits Center — located between 34th and 38th Sts. and 11th and 12th Aves. — currently has a 6.75-acre green roof, which was constructed as part of the center’s 2014 renovation. The green roof includes technology to control temperatures throughout the facility, which has reduced the center’s energy consumption by 26 percent.

The roof is also a wildlife sanctuary for 26 bird species, five bat species and thousands of honey bees, according to the Javits Center. The planned rooftop solar panels will be built on top of existing HVAC units, to avoid disturbing the roof’s greenery.

“Our green roof has become a model of sustainability for buildings throughout the Empire State,” said Alan Steel, president and C.E.O. of the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation, which operates the Javits Center. “We are proud to work with the New York Power Authority to further expand our environmental impact.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents the Manhattan district including the Javits Center, said in a statement about the solar project, “This is the busiest convention center in the United States — and the perfect place to model a swift transition off of fossil fuels with New York City’s largest rooftop solar project. Climate change isn’t waiting for us, so we can’t afford to wait to prevent its worst impacts.”