First Environment is the recipient of Engineering Excellence Awards by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) New York and New Jersey chapters for our work on the City of Hoboken’s Climate Action Plan and Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The respected ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards program has honored its member firms for over 45 years for work demonstrating the highest degree of skill and ingenuity on projects worldwide.
ACEC New York granted awards in 12 categories, including environmental, energy, transportation, water resources, waste and stormwater, and more. First Environment received the Platinum Award under Category A: Studies, Research and Consulting Engineering Services for our work developing Hoboken’s Climate Action Plan and baseline greenhouse gas inventories for both city government operations as well as the community as a whole. Under ACEC New Jersey’s program, the project received a Distinguished Award. Under this assignment, our project team helped the City of Hoboken prioritize actions to reduce emissions and achieve climate goals, including attaining Sustainable Jersey’s Gold Star Certification in Energy. The final deliverables included a Climate Action Plan, Baseline Municipal Operations Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and Baseline Community-wide Greenhouse Gas Inventory ultimately positioning the City to move forward with an actionable plan that addresses both short- and long-term goals.
About the Project
In 2012, nearly 500 million gallons of water from Superstorm Sandy surged into the City, crippling a major regional transportation hub. Since then, Hoboken has become a national model for storm resiliency and is similarly committed to mitigating climate impacts by reducing emissions. On Earth Day 2019, the city unveiled its new Climate Action Plan, which includes baseline greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories for government operations, emission reduction targets and a framework for priority actions to achieve these goals.
Hoboken’s climate goals and targets are:
- By 2022: Obtain Sustainable Jersey’s Gold Star in Energy
- By 2027: Exceed Paris Agreement by achieving >16% reduction from 2017 baseline
- By 2030: Become a Net Zero city
- By 2035: Achieve carbon neutrality for municipal operations
- By 2050: Achieve carbon neutrality for community as a whole
Greenhouse Gas Inventory Development
For the 2017 Baseline Community-wide GHG Inventory, First Environment followed ICLEI’s Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories. Data included Scope 1, Scope 2 and select Scope 3 emissions from seven greenhouse gases. The inventories were also compared to those of comparable cities to assess Hoboken’s baseline performance.
Climate Action Plan Development
The project team identified the City’s major sources of emissions and then prioritized actions to address Hoboken’s climate-related goals, such as achieving Sustainable Jersey Gold Star Certification in Energy and preparing for pre-certification to achieve Silver LEED for Cities certification. The Plan included costs expected GHG reductions, cost savings and implementation time for all actions. In addition, the project team developed a section of innovative longer-term actions that the City can consider in future updates to the Plan.
First Environment hosted three webinars with Hoboken employees, three webinars with external stakeholders, and two public community engagement meetings. By using simple tables and graphics to summarize complex data, the public quickly understood potential costs and benefits of proposed climate actions.
At the launch of the Climate Action plan on Earth Day 2019, Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla stated: “Hoboken knows first-hand the devastation caused by storms like Superstorm Sandy, which will only become more frequent due to rising sea levels…Our Climate Action Plan demonstrates that we are ready, willing, and able to reduce emissions, minimize our carbon footprint, and take forward thinking steps to sustain coastal communities like Hoboken for future generations.”