Long before most people thought of green as anything other than a color, New York City began building sustainable buildings. Now the city is aiming to reduce its overall carbon footprint 30% by 2030 and for municipal operations by 2017.

“That is a pretty tall order,” says Tom Paino, director of the sustainability unit at the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) of New York City. “We are looking at a broad spectrum of the city’s buildings to see where we can meet that executive order.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has committed $100 million annually in capital funds to reduce energy use, Paino says. That money will help to upgrade existing buildings, such as changing boilers, increasing insulation and installing energy efficient windows.

“This has the effect of covering many more buildings and reducing the city’s overall use of energy,” Paino says.

The DDC published its first Sustainable Design High Performance Building Guidelines in 1999 and issued updated guidelines in 2005. In October of that year, the city adopted Local Law 86, one of the nation’s first green building laws, which requires most capital projects that receive city funds to be built to LEED standards and depending on the cost of the project, decrease energy use.

“The biggest influence on sustainable building is the codes are changing very rapidly,” Paino says. “What used to be high-performance buildings are now regular buildings required by the code.”

Paino anticipates another building code change to address water runoff allowed to leave the property. He expects it will require developers to collect that water.

DDC has 46 green projects in design and construction.

“We try to provide green methodology to all of the projects,” Paino says. “It’s a sea change, looking at construction methods and how they will have to change to bring down greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. It’s an across the board issue. We are looking to contractors to know how to use the new materials.”

NYPD Police Academy

Among the most noteworthy of the current projects is the $800 million, 1 million-sq-ft New York Police Department Police Academy in Queens, set to began construction this fall. STV and Turner Construction Co., both of New York, in a joint venture, received the $656 million construction management contract for the 35-acre Police Academy campus, a former vehicle impound lot, which will consolidate the police department’s training facilities in one location.

The first phase includes three buildings—a nine-story academic center and administration building, a physical training building, and a central utility plant—and site improvements. The project aims for at a minimum LEED-Silver certification.

“It makes you feel better going into a project with an owner who has an environmental mindset,” says Pat Murray, a project executive at Turner Construction and deputy project manager-operations for the police academy job. “When you get into the public sector and have some truly environmentally focused people, it becomes a different effort. You are giving back to the city and the taxpayers.”

Perkins + Will Architects in association with Michael Fieldman Architects, both of New York, designed the campus. The structural steel-frame buildings will sit on pile foundations with methane venting. Crews will demolish existing parking lots and redistribute that asphalt and submaterials to other locations on site during the construction project.

A glass curtain wall, clearstory and skylights will allow daylight into 75% of the regularly occupied spaces. Green features also include planting a vegetative green roof atop a portion of the training building to mitigate the heat island effect, stormwater recycling, and redevelopment of an existing tidal stream that runs within the site into an attractive, natural amenity and a retention area for stormwater runoff.