Arts and energy: a 100% wind powered Lincoln Center

I live near Columbus Circle, so Central Park and Lincoln Center are my favorite places to hang around during my leisure time. I personally find it extremely appealing to spend a nice afternoon reading under the shades in Lincoln Center with a cup of tea, while listening to the sound of practicing musicians floating on the air from Juilliard across the street.

Located in the heart of Manhattan, Lincoln Center is a bastion for New York City’s cultural life and one of the most renowned venues for performance in the world. It is the home of eleven of the world’s great arts institutions, attracting millions of visitors each year to thousands of performances, educational programs, tours, and other events.

Given that it is one of the world’s leading performing arts center, it is inspiring to see that Lincoln Center is also helping to lead the world towards greater environmental sustainability. Recently, it has become the first performing arts center in the city to be entirely run on wind power. As explained in Treehugger, “100% of Lincoln Center’s 21.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity used each year are now supplied via renewable energy certificates (RECs) purchased from Green Mountain Energy Company. Also included in the transformation is Juilliard, which in the past was partially powered from renewable energy, but this is also 100% wind power.” In terms of environmental benefits, “Lincoln Center touts the wind power purchase as being the equivalent of avoiding 50,500 tons of CO2 emissions—or recycling 170 million Playbills rather than putting them into the landfill, or not taking 41 million taxi rides.” This purchase compliments the completion of Lincoln Center’s recent $1.2 billion transformation, which includes a new U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certified building, the David Rubenstein Atrium.

Running wind power at Lincoln Center does not imply the installation of wind turbines. Instead, it works by a payment for Renewable Energy Certificates (REC’s), with the renewable energy being generated elsewhere. Also known as green tags, these certificates represent the property rights to the environmental, social, and other nonpower qualities of renewable electricity generation. They are energy commodities in the United States that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. RECs provide buyers flexibility in procuring green power across a diverse geographical arc, and in applying the renewable attributes to the electricity use at any facility. Lincoln Center is tied to the grid with a renewable-based generator that produces physical electricity, in addition to the RECs. The RECs are responsible for the benefits of renewable electricity. Put simply, RECs are a way to vote for sustainability with your wallet by driving up demand for renewables.

Lincoln Center has done this in a major way, indicating that they are willing to invest in clean, renewable energy. In the long run, this will have benefits well beyond the direct positive effects of Lincoln Center’s REC purchases, as more and more people see that a cultural leader like Lincoln Center is committed to sustainability.

Photo: Jenny Kun