May­or Bill de Bla­sio Announces Final­ists to Anchor City’s Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter on Gov­er­nors Island


May­or Bill de Bla­sio and The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island (the Trust) today announced the next steps in the City of New York’s ini­tia­tive to estab­lish a glob­al Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions on Gov­er­nors Island. After receiv­ing 12 pro­pos­als as part of a com­pet­i­tive Request for Expres­sions of Inter­est (RFEI) process on Octo­ber 13, 2021, today the May­or and the Trust are announc­ing that four final­ist teams will move for­ward in com­pet­ing to build, pro­gram and oper­ate an insti­tu­tion on Gov­er­nors Island ded­i­cat­ed to research­ing and show­cas­ing how cities around the world can equi­tably adapt to cli­mate change. 

Final­ists announced today include teams led by the fol­low­ing institutions:

  • The City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York (CUNY) and The New School
  • Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy (MIT)
  • North­east­ern University
  • Stony Brook University 

Fol­low­ing today’s announce­ment, final­ist teams will respond to a com­pet­i­tive Request for Pro­pos­als process to be launched in Spring, 2022, where they will have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to fur­ther refine their pro­gram and design.

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,” said May­or Bill de Bla­sio. These final­ists have sub­mit­ted thought­ful, bold pro­pos­als to lead that mis­sion. We look for­ward to hear­ing more from them as we find the per­fect part­ner to make New York City an inter­na­tion­al leader in solv­ing the planet’s most exis­ten­tial challenge.”

Dur­ing the last eight years we’ve led with trans­for­ma­tive projects and poli­cies that advance equi­table cli­mate action, and the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions will con­tin­ue that lega­cy in fur­ther­ing New York City’s role as a glob­al leader in edu­ca­tion and research to tack­le one of the defin­ing chal­lenges of our time,” said Deputy May­or for Hous­ing and Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment Vic­ki Been. The final­ists announced today pro­pose ambi­tious visions that will cre­ate a safer and more resilient future for cities around the world, and we are thrilled to move for­ward with the next phase of this crit­i­cal invest­ment in cli­mate solutions.”

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” said Clare New­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. 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. These four pro­pos­als show­case ambi­tious and inno­v­a­tive approach­es that under­score the urgency of address­ing chal­lenges posed by cli­mate change. We look for­ward to the next phase of this com­pe­ti­tion and bring­ing this project to life right here on Gov­er­nors Island.” 

Through­out his­to­ry, New York City has always been at the cen­ter of the con­ver­sa­tion in dri­ving solu­tions to the world’s great­est chal­lenges,” said Ali­cia Glen, Chair of the Board of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island and for­mer Deputy May­or for Hous­ing and Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment. The pro­pos­als announced today match our ambi­tion for the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions, to build upon New York City’s diverse tal­ent, world-class insti­tu­tions, and resilience to be a mod­el that cities around the world will turn to as we devel­op prac­ti­cal solu­tions to adapt to cli­mate change and reduce the harm our cur­rent prac­tices are impos­ing on our planet.”

The Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions is a ground­break­ing ini­tia­tive designed to fur­ther New York City as a glob­al leader in efforts to respond to the cli­mate cri­sis. On Gov­er­nors Island, the project will sup­port the research, devel­op­ment, and demon­stra­tion of equi­table cli­mate solu­tions for New York City that can be scaled and applied glob­al­ly. Through inter­dis­ci­pli­nary edu­ca­tion, train­ing, and broad pub­lic engage­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, the Cen­ter will sup­port the growth of green and cli­mate-relat­ed jobs dri­ving New York City’s recov­ery from the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. At full build, the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions is esti­mat­ed to cre­ate 7,000 direct jobs on Gov­er­nors Island alone and near­ly $1 bil­lion in fis­cal impact for New York City. 

The four final­ists announced today out­lined ambi­tious pro­pos­als to expand edu­ca­tion and applied research in New York City. Pro­pos­als pre­sent­ed a range of inno­v­a­tive approach­es to the unprece­dent­ed oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case scal­able solu­tions for urban envi­ron­ments. Appli­cants have focused on sus­tain­able and resilient build­ings, nature-based solu­tions, flood and stormwa­ter man­age­ment, ener­gy, cir­cu­lar econ­o­my and waste man­age­ment, cli­mate jus­tice and pub­lic health. In addi­tion, pro­pos­als out­line strate­gies to broad­en the study of cli­mate change across sec­tors, incor­po­rat­ing pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy with sci­ence and advanc­ing urban adap­ta­tion strategies.

Pro­pos­als announced today were eval­u­at­ed based on how respon­dents artic­u­lat­ed a vision that address­es the City’s and the Trust’s goals as out­lined in the RFEI, includ­ing advanc­ing equi­table cli­mate solu­tions; mak­ing a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to Gov­er­nors Island’s phys­i­cal cam­pus and exist­ing com­mu­ni­ty of part­ners and vis­i­tors; and cre­at­ing broad­er oppor­tu­ni­ties for New Yorkers.

Details announced today regard­ing the final­ist pro­pos­als are out­lined as follows: 

CUNY and The New School (C3: Cli­mate Cen­ter Consortium)

Addi­tion­al Part­ners: Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, Barnard Col­lege, The Coop­er Union for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence and Art, New York Uni­ver­si­ty, Cary Insti­tute of Ecosys­tem Stud­ies, North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, Uni­ver­si­ty at Albany, Woods Hole Oceano­graph­ic Institution

C3 is a new con­sor­tium of aca­d­e­m­ic, research, and com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions, focused on merg­ing the work of cli­mate adap­ta­tion, mit­i­ga­tion, and envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice. Pro­gram­ming will include for­mal and infor­mal K‑16 learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, degree-grant­i­ng cours­es, career and work­force devel­op­ment, and con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion cre­den­tials for edu­ca­tors and prac­ti­tion­ers. C3 pro­pos­es to uti­lize Gov­er­nors Island as a liv­ing lab­o­ra­to­ry for just cli­mate solu­tions through trans­dis­ci­pli­nary research, pro­to­typ­ing, and com­mer­cial­iza­tion, focused on build­ing design, tech­nol­o­gy, and nature-based solu­tions. Dis­ci­plines pro­posed include nat­ur­al and social sci­ences, engi­neer­ing, design, the arts, and human­i­ties. Adap­tive reuse of many of the Island’s his­toric build­ings will cre­ate class­rooms, research space, and dor­mi­to­ries. New spaces include areas for con­fer­ences and gath­er­ings, field and for­est research, and pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­to­ry and demon­stra­tion sites. C3 pro­pos­es to facil­i­tate col­lab­o­ra­tion across dis­ci­plines and sec­tors to devel­op cli­mate solu­tions with com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice orga­ni­za­tions, and stake­hold­er groups on Gov­er­nors Island, through­out New York City, and the world.

Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy (MIT)

Addi­tion­al Part­ners: Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty and Barnard College 

MIT pro­pos­es to cre­ate a ded­i­cat­ed cli­mate change solu­tions and inno­va­tion cen­ter on Gov­er­nors Island to sup­port the research, devel­op­ment, pro­to­typ­ing, and deploy­ment of urban-based solu­tions focused on New York City com­mu­ni­ties, in part­ner­ship with indus­try and gov­ern­ment. Man­aged by MIT’s Envi­ron­men­tal Solu­tions Ini­tia­tive, which is ded­i­cat­ed to mobi­liz­ing the Institute’s sci­en­tif­ic, engi­neer­ing, pol­i­cy, and design capac­i­ty to con­tribute to address­ing cli­mate change, the Gov­er­nors Island cen­ter would host researchers and fac­ul­ty from MIT and oth­er part­ner insti­tu­tions who would focus on the test­ing, rapid com­mer­cial­iza­tion, and deploy­ment of cli­mate solu­tions. Solu­tions-devel­op­ment would focus on the areas of trans­porta­tion, ener­gy, build­ings, the cir­cu­lar econ­o­my, equi­ty and cit­i­zen sci­ence, and bio­di­ver­si­ty. MIT’s cen­ter on Gov­er­nors Island is pro­posed to include research space with a shared pub­lic con­fer­ence hall, pro­to­typ­ing facil­i­ties, and overnight accommodations.

North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty (Coastal Cities Impact Team)

Addi­tion­al Part­ners: Woods Hole Oceano­graph­ic Insti­tu­tion, The Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo, Uni­ver­si­ty of Puer­to Rico at Mayagüez

North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty is propos­ing to build a cli­mate solu­tions research and inno­va­tion cen­ter on Gov­er­nors Island that engages the cit­i­zens of New York with researchers from around the world. The pro­posed cen­ter will be ded­i­cat­ed to dri­ving ideas and dis­cov­er­ies that make coastal cities and com­mu­ni­ties sus­tain­able, resilient, equi­table, and vibrant for all. The Coastal Cities Impact team, with exter­nal part­ners, is propos­ing to dri­ve cli­mate sci­ence, cli­mate jus­tice, and cli­mate adap­ta­tion from the deep ocean to coastal envi­ron­ments to city neigh­bor­hoods. North­east­ern would expand its inter­na­tion­al­ly renowned Coop­er­a­tive Edu­ca­tion pro­gram to accel­er­ate and expand edu­ca­tion­al and career pipelines to cli­mate-relat­ed jobs for New York­ers. Pro­posed facil­i­ties include research and 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. 

Stony Brook Uni­ver­si­ty (New York Cli­mate Exchange) 

Found­ing Part­ners: Stony Brook Uni­ver­si­ty, Brookhaven Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford, Uni­ver­si­ty of Washington

Addi­tion­al Aca­d­e­m­ic Part­ners: Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, Yale Uni­ver­si­ty, SUNY Mar­itime, Rochester Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy, Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo 

The New York Cli­mate Exchange, led by Stony Brook Uni­ver­si­ty, pro­pos­es to cre­ate an inno­va­tion cam­pus ded­i­cat­ed to urban coastal sus­tain­abil­i­ty, water, food and ener­gy, and cli­mate jus­tice. The pro­gram would include con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties, a solu­tions-focused semes­ter abroad on Gov­er­nors Island, a K‑12 sum­mer inten­sive pro­gram pro­vid­ing stu­dents the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work on hands-on projects along­side researchers and edu­ca­tors, com­pet­i­tive­ly award­ed research, test­ing, and demon­stra­tion space, and a fel­low­ship and intern­ship pro­gram. Con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties are pro­posed to offer cre­den­tials and micro-cre­den­tials for access­ing green jobs, focused on front­line com­mu­ni­ties and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with labor, work­force devel­op­ment, and com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions. Pro­posed facil­i­ties include class­room and lab­o­ra­to­ry space, overnight accom­mo­da­tions and dor­mi­to­ries, and a con­fer­ence center.

In June 2021, the City and the Trust released an RFEI seek­ing an edu­ca­tion­al and research insti­tu­tion to anchor the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions. Respon­dents were offered the option to lease land with­in 33 acres of devel­op­ment sites, and/​or up to one mil­lion square feet of adap­tive reuse oppor­tu­ni­ty with­in his­toric build­ings on Gov­er­nors Island. The Trust and the City of New York have part­nered to make avail­able up to $150 mil­lion of cap­i­tal fund­ing that may be allo­cat­ed to sup­port this project. 

Con­grat­u­la­tions to today’s final­ists. There is no issue more press­ing than the health of our envi­ron­ment and I com­mend city lead­ers and the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island for invest­ing in this impor­tant project,” said Sen­a­tor Gilli­brand. New York has always been at the fore­front of tack­ling this cri­sis and the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions will con­tin­ue our state’s lega­cy of seek­ing bold, inno­v­a­tive, and inclu­sive solu­tions to cli­mate change. We must be relent­less in our efforts and I will always serve as a fierce advo­cate in the Sen­ate in our fight to com­bat cli­mate change.”

Today’s announce­ment of the four final­ist teams brings us into the excit­ing next phase of estab­lish­ing an insti­tu­tion right here on Gov­er­nors Island which seeks to take an inno­v­a­tive, mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary approach to meet the exis­ten­tial threat of cli­mate change”, said Con­gress­man Jer­ry Nadler. The Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions will allow New York to be a leader in edu­ca­tion, research and col­lab­o­ra­tion around cli­mate change and help bring green jobs and infra­struc­ture to our city.”

I am thrilled to see the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions one step clos­er to being real­ized,” said Coun­cil Mem­ber Mar­garet Chin. The pro­pos­als from these four final­ists all bring so much poten­tial to cement­ing Gov­er­nors Island’s iden­ti­ty as a world-class research hub for cli­mate resilien­cy and sustainability.”

Gov­er­nors Island is a gem of our har­bor, and today’s announce­ment rep­re­sents anoth­er excit­ing step toward mak­ing the island acces­sible to the pub­lic year-round,” said Man­hat­tan Bor­ough Pres­i­dent Gale A. Brew­er.​“Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island and the four final­ists. I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work togeth­er to ensure that the new Cli­mate Cen­ter com­ple­ments Gov­er­nors Island’s beau­ti­ful open space and places access to oppor­tu­ni­ty for New York­ers from less for­tu­nate back­grounds at its center.”

I con­grat­u­late all those advanc­ing to the next round of this process, and May­or Bill de Bla­sio, Clare New­man, and the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island for attract­ing so much inter­est from so many uni­ver­si­ties and research insti­tu­tions with the poten­tial to make the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions a tru­ly inno­v­a­tive and impact­ful place,” said State Sen­a­tor Bri­an Kavanagh, whose dis­trict includes the Island. There are many fac­tors that will need to be con­sid­ered as the respec­tive pro­pos­als pro­ceed, includ­ing the scale of devel­op­ment and how well it can be har­mo­nized with the open spaces, the exist­ing struc­tures, and the unique char­ac­ter of Gov­er­nors Island. But today’s announce­ment val­i­dates the basic premise that it may be pos­si­ble to cre­ate an impor­tant new pub­lic-spir­it­ed insti­tu­tion on the Island to focus on one of the world’s great­est chal­lenges: pro­tect­ing the hab­it­abil­i­ty of our plan­et and the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of our com­mu­ni­ties from the grow­ing threat of cli­mate change.”

I was thrilled last June when May­or de Bla­sio and the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island announced the world­wide com­pe­ti­tion to iden­ti­fy a con­sor­tium of insti­tu­tions to cre­ate and lead the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions – a world-lead­ing research and edu­ca­tion­al insti­tute to devel­op solu­tions for the world’s cli­mate chal­lenge and to pre­pare the cli­mate lead­ers of tomor­row. The May­or and I have worked togeth­er over the decades to make New York City a nation­al leader in cli­mate solu­tions, but this Cen­ter will put the world’s great­est city where it right­ful­ly belongs – as the home and incu­ba­tor for world-lead­ing cli­mate sci­ence inno­va­tion and the indi­vid­u­als who will turn that inno­va­tion into real­i­ty,” said Coun­cil Mem­ber James F. Gen­naro. Today, we announce four world-class teams of final­ists that will par­tic­i­pate in the next phase of the selec­tion process. As Chair of the NYC Council’s Com­mit­tee on Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, I look for­ward to the next phase of this excit­ing com­pe­ti­tion, and to col­lab­o­rat­ing with the suc­cess­ful con­sor­tium to make City gov­ern­ment a full part­ner in its glob­al mission.”