A project to modernize wastewater treatment and significantly boost environmental and community outcomes in New York.

Cleaning up, improving urban quality of life

Serving a population of over one million and located in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility is New York City’s largest treatment plant, handling almost 20 percent of the city's wastewater.

TYLin led the delivery of this massive project that improves the quality of life across multiple disadvantaged neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

With the aim of decreasing pollution in the New York Harbour, East River and neighboring waterbodies, the team undertook a major modernization project to increase the plant’s capacity and upgrade the facilities.

The new design included the ability to process additional food waste that is used to generate renewable gas to feed the grid – an innovative model that improves long-term sustainability.

Eight iconic, stainless steel-clad egg-shaped digesters are visible from vantage points across multiple boroughs of New York and act as a symbol of civic service for travelers on several of New York’s highways and bridges.

Furthermore, the facility was designed to be resilient to future sea level rise and public amenities were included that make it a community attraction including a riverwalk, providing the local community with access to the waterfront.

A winning circular economy

Upgrading the plant to full secondary treatment notably improved its efficiency. It also reduced its environmental impact by increasing the volume of wastewater it can process each day.

What is more, the upgrades provided the opportunity to transform waste into usable resources. Both wastewater sludge and a food-based slurry is fed into the plant’s iconic egg-shaped sludge digesters, where it is converted into biogas and carbon dioxide.

This biogas can then be refined into renewable natural gas, ready for the local pipeline and home heating.

The plant upgrades were also a chance to include new public amenities, in an area that is completely urbanized. The participation of a community group during the planning process led to the inclusion of a nature walk that provides access to the waterfront, a visitors’ center and architectural and aesthetic features such as the blue lighting of the digester eggs.

Exponential long-term benefits

The plant upgrades help maintain a crucial role in maintaining the water quality of the East River and the surrounding environment – but also contribute to cleaner air quality and meeting long-term climate goals.

Not only does the capture and conversion to renewable natural gas help the utility to reduce emissions by more than 90,000 metric tons per year – the equivalent of taking nearly 19,000 cars off the road – it also helps to decarbonize the heating systems in buildings where electrification is not possible.

Project Details

New York City, New York

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