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January 26, 2017

Staten Island Bluebelt Project Earns ‘Envision Silver Award’ from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure

Sweet Brook Bluebelt expansion to improve drainage and eliminate almost 600 septic systems in Woodrow area

Ian Michaels


Long Island City, NY – A $48 million project in Staten Island’s Bluebelt system that will improve stormwater drainage and enable almost 600 homes to connect to the City’s sanitary sewer system has received the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s (ISI) Envision Silver Award, just the second project in New York City to be recognized with an Envision Award by the ISI.

The project is being managed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Construction began in March 2014 and is expected to be completed in fall 2017. 

“The Bluebelt system has proven to be an environmentally sustainable and cost effective way to manage stormwater drainage in Staten Island, while preserving and enhancing beautiful wetland ecosystems,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “We’re very pleased to partner with DEP to help the people of Staten Island, and we are honored to collect our first Envision Award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.” 

“The Bluebelt system on Staten Island has proven to effectively manage stormwater and this $48 million investment is the largest ever expansion of the program,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “We thank our partners at DDC for professionally managing this project, which will improve the quality of life for residents and raise the value of their properties.”

The project is installing a new storm sewer system almost three miles long that will collect stormwater from local streets and direct it to a new wetland area being built on City-owned Bluebelt land at the east end of Sheldon Avenue. The wetland connects to the existing Annadale Wedge Pond, a manmade stormwater retention pond that is being expanded with new wetlands and step pools. Pipes are installed at a maximum depth of 12 feet to not disturb the groundwater table, and silt fences and other sediment control measures are in use during construction to prevent runoff into nearby water features.

The entire area is at the head of the Sweet Brook Bluebelt system and eventually drains downstream into Richmond Creek and the Arthur Kill. Almost 200 new catch basins will also be added to local streets to help capture stormwater at individual locations.

Annadale Wedge Pond under construction as part of the Bluebelt expansion in Woodrow

Over four miles of new sanitary sewers in the vicinity of Sheldon Avenue will allow almost 600 homes in the community to discontinue the use of septic systems that can leach wastewater into the local environment. The project is also replacing 2.2 miles of old, cast iron water mains with new, modern ductile iron water mains. Engineers at DDC designed the sewer and water main systems. The work includes the planting of over 700 trees, tens of thousands of plants and wildflowers, and over 100,000 square feet of grass seeding. 

ISI describes its Envision process as a rating system for sustainable infrastructure providing “a holistic framework for evaluating and rating the community, environmental, and economic benefits of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects.” It covers a broad range of criteria to address a project’s impact on the surrounding community and environment, technical considerations regarding materials and processes, and other critical choices spanning a project’s lifecycle. Envision also helps communities and elected officials make responsible choices about their natural resources.

The ISI’s Envision Silver Award is granted when a project fosters a dramatic and necessary improvement in the sustainability performance and resiliency of infrastructure, and is issued as a result of an independent peer-review process conducted and overseen by the ISI. The evaluation assesses project performance across 60 sustainability criteria addressing a wide range of indicators including community, quality of life, management, planning, materials, energy, water, environmental impacts, emissions, and resilience.

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure provides training to help design, construction, and planning professionals implement its Envision guidelines. DDC currently has 130 ISI members, of which 98, including its new Deputy Commissioner for Public Buildings, have successfully completed the Envision credential exam and are now Envision Sustainability Professionals (ENV SP).

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit