Con Edison Releases Biodiversity Plan, Broadening Environmental Goals
Sustainable Mix of Species on Company Properties Will Benefit the Region’s Environment and Quality of Life
Con Edison has expanded its environmental commitment with a plan to enhance the diversity of plant, insect and animal life on the properties the company maintains.
The company’s release of its Strategic Action Plan on Biodiversity builds on Con Edison’s role as a sustainability leader. The company is leading the effort to fight climate change and build a clean energy future.
“As a company that maintains thousands of acres in New York City and Westchester County, we are in a unique position to protect and enhance the region’s environment,” said Venetia Lannon, Con Edison’s vice president, Environment, Health and Safety. “Biodiversity helps all species, including humans, survive and flourish.”
The World Bank has said that a million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction due to a decline in biodiversity.
Con Edison’s plan says the healthy interaction of the world’s plants and animals buffers against climate extremes, protects soils, regulates urban temperatures, and aids the production of food.
The plan says: “These ecosystem services from biodiversity are considered some of the natural benefits of a healthy environment that benefit human survival and quality of life – for example, through supporting the pollination of food crops, filtration of waterways, carbon capture, and shoreline resiliency.”
The company’s first biodiversity project is the restoration of an acre at a work facility in Eastview, Westchester County.
Con Edison scientists will test two seed mixes at Eastview. One will spawn plants that are native to the Greater New York region. The second will create a habitat with milkweed and other pollinator plantings to attract monarch butterflies.
The next area scheduled for restoration in 2023 will be the grounds of a substation in Staten Island where the company is adding a battery system.
Con Edison has plentiful opportunities to promote biodiversity. The company maintains 8,000 acres of transmission right-of-way and dozens of other properties, including substations, workout locations, offices and warehouses.
The plan calls for research of those transmission corridors to determine the types of species present and the population of those species.
Con Edison and Orange & Rockland Utilities have formed a partnership with the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry to assess 120 acres to determine their potential for biodiversity projects.
Replacing a manicured lawn eliminates the need to mow. A gas-powered mower creates carbon emissions. According to the EPA, garden equipment engines produce up to 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution. One hour of mowing is the equivalent of driving 350 miles in terms of volatile organic compounds.
The plan notes that half of bee species are in decline and a quarter of them are at risk of extinction. The assessment will help the company support the native species, including critical pollinators that exist on those lands.
Along with restoring properties on land, Con Edison plans to develop innovative ways to make its waterfront properties more resilient. For instance, the company is evaluating pilot projects to include ecologically friendly concrete in its shoreline structures and support the growth of the oyster population.
The company, which is the second largest owner of waterfront property in New York City, is looking for projects that get the endorsement of the Waterfront Alliance, which provides the Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines Verification.
Con Edison has been at the forefront of the environmental movement and is helping New York City and New York State meet their clean energy goals.
The company has robust energy efficiency programs that provide incentives for customers to make energy-saving upgrades.
The company has helped customers connect rooftop solar projects with the combined capacity to produce more than 500 megawatts of power. In addition, Con Edison is building transmission lines to carry renewable energy, investing in energy storage and providing incentives for the installation of electric vehicle chargers.
The company makes its environmental focus clear in its Clean Energy Commitment.
Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $16 billion in annual revenues and $69 billion in assets as of December 31, 2022. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas, and steam, and serves 3.5 million customers in New York City and Westchester County. For financial, operations, and customer service information, visit conEd.com. For energy efficiency information, visit coned.com/energyefficiency. Also, visit us on Twitter and Facebook.
Why is Biodiversity Important? Here Are Some Reasons
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture says pollinators provide approximately $439 million worth of pollination services to New York State and add value to crop production nationally.
- University of New Hampshire researchers have found a dramatic decline in 14 wild bee species that are important for pollinating apples, blueberries, and cranberries across the Northeast.
- The monarch butterfly, a pollinator whose population and migration have been harmed by development, was recently added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the monarch butterfly as threatened.
- The materials used to build a living shoreline provide habitat for aquatic plants and animals, enabling the shoreline to sustainably grow and thrive. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, living shorelines like marshes or reefs help absorb waves, protecting nearby land from storms, and capture sediment, growing taller as sea level rises.
- A single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. Oyster restoration has the potential to filter millions of gallons of seawater a year. The planted oysters could provide a variety of benefits, including acting as a natural gauge for water temperatures, filtering the waters near the shore, and naturally hardening around pilings to increase their strength and longevity.
- The World Wildlife Fund reports that the world has seen an average 68 percent drop in mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and amphibian populations since 1970. The group says climate change, which hasn’t been the biggest driver of biodiversity loss so far, is expected to take that role in the decades ahead.