The New York Center for Sustainable Energy opened last week at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Designed by Gensler and touted as New York City’s first net zero educational center, NYCSE was originally just an electric vehicle charging station. It was donated last year by Brooklyn-based energy developer Beautiful Earth Group to charge the park’s security and maintenance vehicles. Now, Gensler has turned the station into a larger educational facility about the impact of clean energy choices on our natural environment, whose architecture simultaneously incorporates a broad range of green design principles.
The structure itself was built from used 40-foot steel shipping containers, which Gensler configured into interior and exterior learning spaces that also demonstrate how the station collects, stores, and inverts its solar power. Windows and doors were manufactured from recycled materials; steel awnings were made from segments cut from the containers. The 5.6-kilowatt rooftop photovoltaic solar array completely powers the building, which also collects its own water supply.
“The Center is a great example of upcycling. We took the existing solar powered EV charging station and transformed it into an exciting, new learning center with only one additional container. Design played a key role,” said Beautiful Earth President and CEO Lex Heslin. “We repurposed materials into new uses, like the old wooden beams which had washed up on the park’s shoreline which are being made into beautiful long, benches.”
NYCSE’s mission is to educate the public about clean energy. It conducts tours and educational programs for students, provides lectures and continuing education seminars, and promotes electric vehicle infrastructure development. The organization also plans to host a variety of workshops for corporate sustainability executives. Beautiful Earth hopes to bring similar centers to other New York City boroughs.