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Two Town+Gown:NYC Research Projects Investigate City’s Carbon Neutrality and Future Flooding Risk

DDC: Ian Michaels, 646-939-6514,

(Long Island City, NY – June 29, 2021) The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) today announced the results of two research projects under the citywide Town+Gown:NYC research program relating to New York City’s future carbon neutrality and its future flooding risk from increased precipitation. DDC hosts the citywide Town+Gown:NYC research program.

The first study, “Pathways to Carbon-Neutral NYC: Modernize, Reimagine, Reach,” published in April 2021, provided the most comprehensive analysis to-date of scenarios for NYC’s energy supply and demand through midcentury, concluding that New York City’s Net-Zero Carbon Target for 2050 is achievable. Drexel University was the Town+Gown Academic Consortium institution selected by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to complete the study. The study was commissioned by MOS, Con Edison and National Grid.

The second study, “NYC Stormwater Resiliency Plan,” published this month, is the first-ever citywide analysis of rainfall-based flooding. The study projects that climate change will increase rainfall in the City by 25 percent by 2100, and enabled the City to develop its new plan, integrating cutting-edge climate projections into flood preparedness. CUNY/Brooklyn College was the Town+Gown Academic Consortium institution selected to conduct the academic research supporting the New York City Stormwater Resiliency Plan.

cars submergered on Staten Island after a rain event

Cars partially submerged in Staten Island after a rain event

"I am delighted to see important work done by City agencies through the Town+Gown:NYC program and its Master Contract, said Terri Matthews, Director, Town+Gown:NYC, resident at the New York City Department of Design and Construction. "As the City's primary capital construction project manager, DDC has been a leader in construction/built environment policy, and the Town+Gown:NYC program continues DDC’s role as a research resource for all City agencies.”

"There is no time to waste in our fight against climate change," said Ben Furnas, Director of the Mayor's Office of Climate & Sustainability. "Thanks to the Department of Design and Construction's Town+Gown:NYC program with Drexel University, we were able to hit the ground running on our decarbonization research in partnership with Con Edison and National Grid. The results of the study will shape New York City's future by providing pathways at the scale and pace necessary to address the climate emergency before us."

“This project was a unique opportunity for an institution of higher education to contribute to a first-of-its-kind study involving both public and private partners,” said Patrick Gurian, Professor, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, College of Engineering, Drexel University and Principal Investigator for this project. “The collaboration, facilitated by the Town+Gown Master Academic Consortium Contract, gave us the opportunity to provide positions with both intellectual challenge and real world relevance for seven Drexel students and a postdoctoral trainee. Our students engaged not only with City personnel but also with experienced professional counterparts at our project partners at ICF, an international consulting firm, and at the Energy Futures Initiative, a Washington DC-based think tank.”

“The Town+Gown Master Contract allowed DEP to quickly access the academic community when funding became available to study stormwater flooding on a city-wide scale,” said Pinar Balci, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Environmental Planning & Analysis with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. “This study will increase our understanding of the future impact of climate change and support DEP’s ongoing stormwater resiliency planning efforts.”

“The NYC Stormwater Resiliency Study was one of the largest and most comprehensive stormwater studies ever conducted at both the City-wide and neighborhood scale, “ said Jennifer Cherrier, Principal Investigator, New York City Stormwater Resiliency Study (Brooklyn College-CUNY). “The Town+Gown mechanism for funding provided a unique opportunity for our research team to develop important collaborations with the City and to create meaningful actionable science that moves our collective work beyond traditional modes of academic communication and into the hands of City managers who can use it to address NYCs stormwater challenges. Town+ Gown is an excellent model that should be adopted nationally so that other US cities can similarly benefit and build these critical bridges between universities and municipal leadership.”

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), used the Town+Gown Master Academic Consortium Contract to procure this important academic research because the innovative Master Contract process permits City agencies to easily and quickly tap academic institutions’ knowledge and expertise on applied faculty-directed research of value to government. The Master Contract process significantly reduces overall procurement time compared to stand-alone RFPs, due to the use of short-form RFPs and short-form task orders, so that research can begin quickly.

The Master Contract supports collaboration among participating academic institutions allowing them to merge their research strengths to address interdisciplinary nature of contemporary problems for public benefit. The Master Contract respects academic institutions’ functions, moves competition away from the traditional consortium formation level to the individual research project level, and acknowledges the important role academic institutions play in the local economy. It is available to City and State agencies, using their own funds, while permitting third-party funds to supplement public funds for projects, which was done for both these projects.


Brooklyn Law School
City University of New York
Columbia University
Cornell University
Drexel University
Fordham University
Manhattan College
New York Institute of Technology
New York University
Pace University
Pratt Institute
State University of New York
The Cooper Union
The New School
Tufts University


About Town+Gown:NYC
Town+Gown:NYC is a unique community-university partnership that brings together academics and practitioners on Built Environment research to increase applied built environment research and evidence-based analysis, often using New York City as a laboratory, and transfer and translate research results to inform and support changes in practices and policies.