Although I was unable to attend the class field trip to the SIMS Municipal Recycling Center, after reading my classmate’s posts on their experience, I feel like I have a pretty good insight. Reading everyone’s posts also made it very clear that it was a really unique and informative place – I feel bad that I missed out! After doing some research, the facility does prove to be a quite interesting and impressive place. I’m sure the videos I’ve watched don’t do justice to the actual size and scale of all of the complex processes and systems at work in their processing facilities, but it is fascinating to see all of New York’s recycling all in one place…
After reading some information on their website, I was intrigued by the fact that the facility was able to use a composite of recycled fill from NYC tunneling projects and recycled glass aggregate to elevate sections of the site in order to protect itself against rising sea levels and storm surges. Though I don’t know the entire process that went into creating this material and the process used (or how sustainable or energy efficient it was) it seems to be a smart way to increase the center’s adaptability and ability to be resilient against the effects of climate change. With the damages of Hurricane Sandy seen across all of New York City, and especially on the waterfronts, this method of elevating the site by four feet could prove to be an extremely wise choice when the next hurricane or large storm hits the city. To leave the facility vulnerable to these potential threats would be very foolish. The economic toll to replace the facility would be unimaginable, and the city would take exponential steps backward without a recycling facility of this magnitude. I would be interested in knowing if the material used to build up the site poses any potential detriments to the environment. Are there any risks if this material enters the water stream? It’s unlikely that such a facility would have use even slightly hazardous material, but it isn’t completely out of the question.
Their website states, “The new recycling facility utilizes sustainable building practices. “Green” design includes: natural lighting and renewable energy production …” I often wish that companies and facilities would be a bit more specific or transparent in their mentioning of renewable energy production and sustainable energy usage. How much of their energy is derived from renewable sources?
I think the facility’s implementation of a Visitor Education Center is really important. Not only are they a functioning facility that processes such an immense quantity of recycled materials, the devote the time and energy to educate those who visit the center and wish to learn more about recycling and material cycles and systems. In this way, many systems are at work at the SIMS Municipal Recycling Center. The are intervening in the disposal of materials by sorting them and distributing them for use by third parties, thus minimizing energy needed to create more of these materials for use. Additionally, the facility serves an educational role, allowing for more widespread knowledge of recycling and sustainable material and waste management and their roles in climate change adaptation.
Additionally, I thought it was really fantastic that the facility’s exterior aesthetically was so carefully designed. The facility was designed by the architect Annabelle Selldorf. In an article on artinfo, it states that facility’s design is like most other waste management facilities. It is not ugly or an eyesore, but rather feels considered in its design. It engages and invites the surrounding community to look, and even visit to learn more.