Meet the Inau­gur­al Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge Winners


Clockwise from top left: Duro UAS's Nearshore Sonde, Just EcoCities' Tidal Planter, LAERO's Cycleau device, kelp farmed through Seaweed City's urban kelp farming infrastructure, RETI Center's Floating BlueBlocks Garden, and one of Object Territories Intertidal Objects.

The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island announced today the win­ners of the inau­gur­al Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge, pre­sent­ed through its Liv­ing Lab pro­gram. Through this ini­tia­tive, the Trust makes the Island avail­able as a site for local small busi­ness­es, entre­pre­neurs, and non­prof­its to test and demon­strate urban cli­mate solu­tions for cities and their diverse communities.

Dubbed the Water Abun­dance Chal­lenge,” this ini­tial call for pro­pos­als sought projects that uti­lize water to help pow­er cli­mate solu­tions that grow blue and green jobs and cre­ate health­i­er com­mu­ni­ties. Each of the six New York City-based inno­va­tors will receive a site to demon­strate their projects, grant awards of up to $25,000, and access to a com­mon pool of addi­tion­al funds to sup­port pilot imple­men­ta­tion. Their pilot sites will also pro­vide valu­able oppor­tu­ni­ties to engage with the Island’s rapid­ly grow­ing audi­ence of near­ly one mil­lion annu­al vis­i­tors through pub­lic demon­stra­tions, work­shops, train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, and oth­er initiatives.

Where some peo­ple see chal­lenges, New York­ers see oppor­tu­ni­ties, and Gov­er­nors Island’s Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge’ is the per­fect exam­ple of how New York­ers’ cre­ativ­i­ty and inge­nu­ity will con­tin­ue to shape our world,” said New York City May­or Eric Adams. By giv­ing these cli­mate solu­tions a chance to pilot, we will con­tin­ue to grow New York City’s green econ­o­my, address cli­mate change, and begin to cre­ate the good-pay­ing, acces­si­ble green-col­lar’ jobs of the future.”

Build­ing on the recent­ly announced Green Econ­o­my Action Plan and the cre­ation of the New York Cli­mate Exchange on Gov­er­nors Island, I am excit­ed by today’s announce­ment and the selec­tion of six orga­ni­za­tions to par­tic­i­pate in the inau­gur­al Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge,” said Deputy May­or for Hous­ing, Eco­nom­ic, and Work­force Devel­op­ment Maria Tor­res-Springer. New York City is and will con­tin­ue to be a leader in the green econ­o­my by enabling pilot pro­grams — like Gov­er­nors Island Liv­ing Lab — to test high-impact cli­mate tech, advanc­ing world-class research and devel­op­ment, and imple­ment­ing strate­gies that cre­ate both equi­ty and eco­nom­ic val­ue through green col­lar jobs.”

Gov­er­nors Island is the per­fect place to test and show­case cli­mate projects that will cre­ate a more sus­tain­able and equi­table city for all, and we are thrilled to be able to offer a total­ly unique envi­ron­ment to these six teams,” said Clare New­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. The Water Abun­dance Chal­lenge win­ners rep­re­sent inno­v­a­tive water-based solu­tions being devel­oped by New York­ers, for New York­ers, and we can­not wait for them to share their work with Gov­er­nors Island’s engaged — and grow­ing — annu­al audi­ence of near­ly one mil­lion people.”

We are thrilled to sup­port these inno­va­tors and to shine a light on how cli­mate solu­tions move from con­cept to pro­to­typ­ing to a scal­able prod­uct,” said Lau­ren Wang, Direc­tor of Cli­mate Pro­grams at the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. These founders and non­prof­it lead­ers are work­ing cre­ative­ly and thought­ful­ly every day to improve the city’s rela­tion­ship with water. We are look­ing for­ward to all New York­er join­ing us on the Island this sum­mer for demon­stra­tions and work­shops led by these teams.”

Gov­er­nors Island is more than a spe­cial place in New York City. Now, it’s becom­ing a sym­bol of our val­ues and an incu­ba­tor for cli­mate solu­tions aimed at solv­ing the globe’s most press­ing chal­lenge. At a time when the impacts of the cli­mate cri­sis grow more appar­ent, the inno­v­a­tive pilot projects that will soon launch on the Island will undoubt­ed­ly move New York – and the world – for­ward as we work to make our city the epi­cen­ter of action,” said Dr. Stephen Ham­mer, CEO of The New York Cli­mate Exchange. The Exchange could not be more proud to call Gov­er­nors Island home, great­ly val­ues our part­ner­ship, and looks for­ward to work­ing with part­ners across the five bor­oughs to address the cli­mate crisis.”

To address the cli­mate chal­lenges of the future, we must invest today in a diverse group of inno­va­tors work­ing on new projects and tech­nolo­gies that will pro­tect New York City’s ecosys­tem,” said Abby Jo Sigal, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Tal­ent and Work­force Devel­op­ment. The six win­ners of the Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge are just the ones we need to safe­guard our water­ways and har­bors. They will also cre­ate well-pay­ing green col­lar jobs, which is key to mak­ing our City more resilient, not just envi­ron­men­tal­ly but also eco­nom­i­cal­ly, for all New Yorkers.”

This cohort of pilot projects includes:

  • Duro UAS – A South Bronx-based com­pa­ny with the goal of improv­ing how envi­ron­men­tal data is col­lect­ed and shared through advanced, afford­able, and easy-to-use water mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems and data ser­vices. On Gov­er­nors Island, they will pilot their Nearshore Sonde, a portable water mon­i­tor­ing device and cloud-based data dashboard.
  • Just EcoC­i­ties – A nature-based solu­tions con­sul­tan­cy work­ing to improve water qual­i­ty, expand habi­tat, and pro­mote engage­ment with New York City’s water­ways. On Gov­er­nors Island, they will part­ner with Bio­hab­i­tats, an eco­log­i­cal design firm whose mis­sion is to restore the Earth and inspire eco­log­i­cal stew­ard­ship, to pilot a Tidal Planter that cre­ates salt marsh while remov­ing pol­lu­tants from New York Harbor.
  • LÆRO – A small busi­ness found­ed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with experts across fields of water advo­ca­cy, man­u­fac­tur­ing, and electro­mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, work­ing to reduce the lev­els of untreat­ed waste­water that enter New York City’s water­ways. On Gov­er­nors Island, they will pilot Cycleau, their com­pact grey­wa­ter treat­ment sys­tem at water refill sta­tions and restrooms. 
  • Object Ter­ri­to­ries – A crit­i­cal design prac­tice based in New York and Hong Kong that works at the inter­sec­tion of archi­tec­ture, land­scape, and urban­ism. Their pilot on Gov­er­nors Island will test their Inter­tidal Objects, habi­tat-friend­ly coastal pro­tec­tion units designed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Cen­ter for Archi­tec­ture, Sci­ence, and Ecol­o­gy (CASE) at Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute, Fort Miller Group and after NATURE.
  • RETI Cen­ter – A Red Hook-based non­prof­it that works to edu­cate, train, and work with local youth, experts, pro­fes­sion­als, and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to trans­form our coastal city from one that is dri­ven by fos­sil fuels to one bal­anc­ing equi­ty, ecol­o­gy, and econ­o­my. On Gov­er­nors Island, they will pilot their Float­ing Blue­Blocks Gar­dens, inte­grat­ed eco­log­i­cal sys­tems that can be installed in any body of water, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with thread collective.
  • Sea­weed City – A non­prof­it cit­i­zen sci­ence ini­tia­tive explor­ing the ben­e­fits of sea­weed aqua­cul­ture in New York City’s water­ways. On Gov­er­nors Island, they will pilot their urban kelp farm­ing infra­struc­ture. The project is fis­cal­ly spon­sored by New­town Creek Alliance.

Of the select­ed pilots, 100 per­cent are local­ly based, 50 per­cent are women-led, and 33 per­cent are minor­i­ty-led. Pilots will be installed on Gov­er­nors Island over the com­ing months for peri­ods span­ning six to 18 months, with an inau­gur­al pub­lic Demo Day to be held in ear­ly sum­mer 2024. They will join ongo­ing pilot­ing projects led by Vycarb, a Brook­lyn-based com­pa­ny work­ing to mea­sure and mit­i­gate car­bon diox­ide in New York Har­bor; Cir­cu­lar Econ­o­my Man­u­fac­tur­ing, a Brook­lyn-based com­pa­ny that trans­forms post-con­sumer plas­tics into upcy­cled prod­ucts through scal­able solar-pow­ered tech­nol­o­gy; and South Bronx Unite, a Bronx-based com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tion that is pilot­ing a street-lev­el air qual­i­ty mon­i­tor­ing net­work. For more infor­ma­tion on the pilots, vis­it www​.gov​is​land​.org/​l​i​v​i​n​g-lab.

The Cli­mate Solu­tions Pilot­ing Pro­gram is a key com­po­nent of Pilot:NYC, an ini­tia­tive announced by Gov­er­nor Kathy Hochul and May­or Eric Adams as part of the New” New York Plan that seeks to make New York City a hub for urban inno­va­tion. The Pilot­ing Pro­gram includes two com­po­nents: the themed annu­al Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge and a gen­er­al rolling call. Through the annu­al chal­lenge, a select­ed cohort of com­pa­nies receives pilot­ing project sites, grant awards, deploy­ment sup­port, and pub­lic engage­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties. The Trust also offers a year-round gen­er­al appli­ca­tion for self-fund­ed pilot­ing pro­pos­als across all dis­ci­plines. Non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, entre­pre­neurs, and start-ups are invit­ed to apply to the gen­er­al rolling call at any time at www​.gov​is​land​.org/​c​h​a​l​lenge.

The pilots announced today will com­ple­ment an exist­ing group of busi­ness­es and non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions that are cur­rent­ly show­cas­ing inno­v­a­tive cli­mate solu­tions on Gov­er­nors Island, includ­ing Con Edi­son, GrowNYC, Earth Mat­ter NY, the Bee Con­ser­van­cy, Bil­lion Oys­ter Project, and others.

Duro is thrilled to part­ner with Gov­er­nors Island to launch the first IoT (Inter­net of Things) water mon­i­tor­ing net­work in New York Har­bor. This excit­ing ini­tia­tive, fea­tur­ing a pub­lic data

dash­board and work­shop series, will gen­er­ate unprece­dent­ed insight into the Har­bor ecosys­tem, strength­en the exist­ing body of research, sup­port the growth of key­stone species, and much more,” said Bri­an Wil­son and Gabriel Fore­man, CEO and Vice Pres­i­dent, respec­tive­ly, at Duro UAS.

Just Ecoc­i­ties is thrilled to part­ner with Bio­hab­i­tats to pilot a Tidal Planter cli­mate solu­tion on

Gov­er­nors Island. The Tidal Planter will improve water qual­i­ty and expand salt marsh habitat,

with a mod­u­lar design that can be adapt­ed for water­ways through­out the region. We look for­ward to engag­ing with youth and com­mu­ni­ty groups in mon­i­tor­ing and main­te­nance of the planter, build­ing local capac­i­ty and train­ing the cli­mate work­force of the future,” said Jamie Ong, Found­ing Prin­ci­pal of Just Ecocities.

We’re excit­ed to show the pos­si­bil­i­ties of diver­si­fy­ing grey­wa­ter treat­ment across New York City, and to pilot­ing a scal­able solu­tion capa­ble of restor­ing access to safe water­fronts in some of New York’s most under­served neigh­bor­hoods,” said Noe­mi Flo­rea, founder and direc­tor of LÆRO.

RETI Cen­ter is proud and excit­ed to launch our Float­ing Blue­Blocks Gar­dens at Gov­er­nors Island. We see the cre­ation of nat­ur­al habi­tats and sup­port of bio­di­ver­si­ty as a cru­cial ele­ment in cli­mate adap­ta­tion. All vis­i­tors to the Island, no mat­ter their age or expe­ri­ence lev­el, are wel­come to come help us build and launch our gar­dens this sum­mer,” said Tim Gilman-Sev­cik, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of RETI Center.

Deutsche Bank Amer­i­c­as Foun­da­tion is a proud sup­port­er of the Gov­er­nors Island Liv­ing Lab and con­grat­u­lates the win­ners of the inau­gur­al Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge. We are excit­ed by the pos­si­bil­i­ties of these pilot projects and the pos­i­tive impact they can bring to New York City’s vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties and beyond,” said Lisa Tal­ma, Vice Pres­i­dent of Phil­an­thropic Ini­tia­tives in the Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment Finance Group at Deutsche Bank.

As a strong part­ner in ush­er­ing our state’s clean ener­gy tran­si­tion, we’re proud to sup­port The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island’s unique Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge ini­tia­tive that places New York City at the fore­front of cut­ting-edge research tack­ling the great­est chal­lenges posed by cli­mate change,” said Tim Caw­ley, Chair­man and CEO of Con Edi­son. These inno­v­a­tive projects will pave the way for a more sus­tain­able future for our city while boost­ing green jobs, eco­nom­ic growth, and health­i­er communities.”

As we con­tin­ue to work to close the racial wealth gap and address oth­er dis­par­i­ties that affect New York’s under­served neigh­bor­hoods, we must not ignore the role cli­mate issues can play in exac­er­bat­ing these inequal­i­ties through the ways they dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly harm com­mu­ni­ties of col­or,” said Valerie White, Senior Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of LISC NY. Pro­grams like the Cli­mate Solu­tions Chal­lenge on Gov­er­nors Island not only encour­age inno­va­tion that can pro­vide tan­gi­ble com­mu­ni­ty-cen­tric cli­mate ini­tia­tives but also offer diverse­ly owned start-ups access to key resources that will enable suc­cess. We look for­ward to see­ing the water-based solu­tions this cohort cre­ates and the ways their work will ulti­mate­ly ben­e­fit New Yorkers.”

The New York Com­mu­ni­ty Trust is proud to sup­port Gov­er­nors Island’s evo­lu­tion into a hub for prac­ti­cal, inno­v­a­tive solu­tions to the chal­lenges pre­sent­ed by accel­er­at­ing cli­mate change. From improv­ing data col­lec­tion to exper­i­ment­ing with sea­weed aqua­cul­ture in New York City’s water­ways, the vari­ety and inge­nu­ity of these projects gives me hope,” said Arturo Gar­cia-Costas, Senior Pro­gram Offi­cer, Local, Nation­al and Inter­na­tion­al Envi­ron­ment, The New York Com­mu­ni­ty Trust.

At Ama­zon, we’re active­ly work­ing to reduce emis­sions to reach net zero car­bon by 2040, and are excit­ed to con­tin­ue our part­ner­ship with Gov­er­nors Island to show­case what sus­tain­able and resilient cities can look like. The emerg­ing busi­ness­es announced today are demon­strat­ing inno­v­a­tive approach­es to tack­ling the glob­al cli­mate cri­sis that are poised to scale, and we’re proud to sup­port their work as part of the Cli­mate Solu­tions chal­lenge,” said Car­ley Gra­ham Gar­cia, Head of Com­mu­ni­ty Affairs and Pub­lic Pol­i­cy, Ama­zon New York.

Today’s announce­ment marks an excit­ing step for­ward in Gov­er­nors Island’s growth as a resource for cli­mate demon­stra­tion and inno­va­tion. Announced in June 2023, the Liv­ing Lab is a new pro­gram led by the Trust that pro­vides a plat­form for part­ner­ships and pro­grams to ampli­fy cli­mate action. In addi­tion to the Cli­mate Solu­tions Pilot­ing Pro­gram, the Liv­ing Lab includes a cli­mate field trip pro­gram launch­ing this spring and a com­mu­ni­ty con­ven­ing space for cli­mate on the Island. The Liv­ing Lab is made pos­si­ble with the gen­er­ous sup­port of Ama­zon, Con Edi­son, Deutsche Bank, Don­ald A. Pels Char­i­ta­ble Trust, LISC, and the New York Com­mu­ni­ty Trust.

The New York Cli­mate Exchange, a research and edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion led by Stony Brook Uni­ver­si­ty and a cross-sec­tor con­sor­tium of uni­ver­si­ties, busi­ness­es, and non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, was announced as the anchor part­ner for the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions by May­or Eric Adams and the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island in April 2023. The Exchange will cre­ate a state-of-the-art, $700-mil­lion, 400,000-square-foot cam­pus on Gov­er­nors Island ded­i­cat­ed to research­ing and devel­op­ing inno­v­a­tive cli­mate solu­tions that will be scaled across New York City and the world and that will equip New York­ers to hold the green jobs of the future. The Exchange will also cre­ate thou­sands of per­ma­nent green jobs and gen­er­ate $1 bil­lion in fis­cal impact for New York City.