Meet Lower Manhattan's Air Czar
Submitted by Ilene Kaplowitz on Tue, 2007-05-01 16:24.
A year and half ago, Tom Kunkel joined the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center (LMCCC) as the Director of Environmental Compliance. He was tasked with overseeing 60 plus construction sites in the one-square mile of Manhattan that lies south of Canal Street, north of South Ferry, and in between both rivers.
LMCCC was established by executive orders issued by Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg in November 2004. The orders were re-issued under Governor Eliot Spitzer on January 2, 2007. The mission of LMCCC is to facilitate construction activities, mitigate their impacts on the community, and communicate with the public about the effects of the work that is taking place.
Over ten years ago, the EPA, MTA, LMDC, DOL, and DOT came together to create Environmental Performance Commitments (EPCs) and then distribute them at construction sites to protect the quality of life for the workers, noise levels, air quality, historic and cultural resources at the sites. Since then LMCCC flushed out these commitments to make them easy for construction companies to understand and comply with. By providing lists of checklists and vendor contact information, LMCCC covers “every step from A to Z” on how to comply with the EPC. It is not the job of the LMCCC to enforce these commitments. “We’re not an enforcement agency, we’re mitigators, communicators, and a thinking agency,” says Kunkel. However, LMCC inspectors make weekly visits to construction sites to make sure that everyone follows the EPC.
Under Kunkel’s direction, LMCCC made large accomplishments in 2006. Four air monitors were set up in Lower Manhattan, a standard equipment list for construction sites that identifies low emission construction vehicles was created and private groups adopted the EPC.
In addition to educating developers and construction companies, LMCCC plays an active role in the Lower Manhattan community by attending community board meetings and working with schools. The EPA will present an award to LMCCC next month for their achievements.
New York State, New York City, and state and federal regulatory agencies fund the LMCCC’s work.
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