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Governors Island to be home to $700 Million climate education and jobs hub: Mayor

Apr. 24, 2023 By Ethan Stark-Miller

SUNY Stony Brook University has been tapped to operate a new $700 million climate change-focused research, education and jobs center slated for an undeveloped section of Governors Island, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday.

As part of the city’s efforts to combat climate change, the 400,000-square-foot hub, which will be run by the newly formed “New York Climate Exchange,” promises to offer a broad swath of green education and workforce training programming, according to the mayor’s office. 

The campus will in-part be funded by private donors, including $100 million from the Simons Foundation and another $50 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies — the philanthropic operation of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The city has already committed $150 million in capital funding for the project, while the remaining $400 million will be raised by Stony Brook and its partners in the consortium that’ll run the exchange.

“This is where we’ll meet the challenge of climate change head-on,” said Mayor Eric Adams at a press conference introducing Stony Brook’s plan for the hub Monday morning. 

“This is where we will protect our cities air and water,” he added. “And this is where we will train thousands of students for the next wave of green jobs.”

A rendering of what ‘New York Climate Exchange’ climate change education and jobs hub will look like from an aerial.Image courtesy of Mayor Eric Adams’ Office

In addition to Stony Brook, the consortium leading the exchange also consists of higher education institutions such as the Georgia Institute of Technology; community groups like Good Old Lower East Side (GOELS); and companies like IBM.

The hub will rise on the southeastern shore of Governors Island, which sits in between northern Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan in New York Harbor. It’s scheduled to break ground in 2025, with a projected 2028 opening date.

Stony Brook’s vision for the project was chosen after a two-year request for proposals process and promises to deliver 2,200 union jobs and roughly $1 billion in revenue for the city.

“We will come here to learn and find both solutions,” Adams said. “The New York Climate Exchange won’t just be good for the climate, it is also going to be good for our economic stability. Creating thousands of clean, green and union jobs. And employing a target of more than one-third minority and women-owned business (MWBE) construction contractors.”

A rendering of the ‘New York Climate Exchange’ education and jobs campus to be errected on Governors Island.Image courtesy of Mayor Eric Adams’ Office

Once completed, City Hall says the campus will cater to 600 higher education and 4,500 K-12 students, train 6,000 job seekers and host 250 faculty and researchers annually. And it’ll support as many as 30 businesses each year through a Climate Tech Incubator program.

The campus will boast two freshly constructed buildings — that will go up on three acres — containing classrooms and research facilities as well as public exhibition space, student and faculty lodging and an auditorium. It’ll also include the restoration of 170,000 square feet of space in some of the island’s historic structures, such as Liggett Hall and the Fort Jay Theater.

Trust for Governors Island President and CEO Clare Newman said the campus itself will exemplify sustainable design that’ll have little to no negative effect on the environment.

“They will build a campus that itself showcases what a resilient and sustainable version of urban development can look like,” Newman said. “A mass timber building that’s totally electric, 100% self-sustaining in terms of energy. Totally off the grid.”

Plus, the project will deliver 4.5 additional acres of public space to the island and run additional ferries to its shores, with trips runny every 15 minutes rather than every half hour.

When it comes to educational opportunities, the exchange seeks to offer a climate-science and policy focused semester abroad program for students enrolled in consortium universities; a graduate-level training and research fellowship; and an expansion of the New York State Pathways in Technology (NYS P-Tech) at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School — located on Governors Island — and SUNY Maritime College.

“The exchange will provide educational opportunities from people around the world and New Yorkers from all walks of life of all ages,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. “From field trip programs to local study abroad opportunities to workforce training and more.”

Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis.Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

The campus’ green jobs-focused training programs will be offered through partnerships with several local community organizations — including Green City Force, New York City Employment and Training Coalition and SolarOne. Additionally, the state Building Trades and Construction Council will develop a trade training program specifically for construction jobs focused on sustainable design.

Among other themes, the educational and workforce programming on the campus will be geared toward “environmental justice and inclusion.”

“This project will not simply rise behind us or beside us. It will also elevate research and work among academic business and government partners through unprecedented collaboration,” McInnis said. “It will be the go-to place to make progress on climate change, and the solutions needed to respond to a changing planet. The exchange will lift up the communities most impacted by climate change in this city and around the world.”

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