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Hurricane Sandy Ruined 1 World Trade Center's Green Dreams

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One World Trade Center can't catch a break. Adding to the array of problems surrounding the tower (some archicritics hate it, the window-washing fiasco, oh, and the rumored rat infestation) now comes a report from Mother Jones that the iconic structure's ambitious green building goals are all but unachievable after Hurricane Sandy ruined nine fuel cells that were meant to help heat and cool One World Trade Center as well as towers three and four.

Here's the gist of what went wrong: when Hurricane Sandy struck, pouring some 200 million gallons of water into the basement of One World Trade Center, the nine fuel cells that were purchased for $10.6 million and stationed down there were irreparably ruined. The cells needed to be removed from the building and replaced before the tower's massive underground loading dock was installed, but under the duress of financial pressure and contractual obligations to be ready for a January 1 move-in for anchor tenant Condé Nast, the loading dock was built before the fuel cells could be replaced. The original fuel cells were removed, but unlike towers three and four which got new fuel cells, One World Trade Center is now operating without the green infrastructure that was the foundation of its ambition to become one of the world's largest US Green Building Council's LEED gold-certified structures.

Project officials say the building is still on-track to receive the standing, which the building is purportedly achieving through other measures like LED lighting, and that focusing on the ruination of the fuel cells is "missing the forest" for the trees. But, because what would anything concerning the World Trade plaza be if not a clusterfuck, Mother Jones points out that early contracts for the site specifically designate that the fuel cells must be built "into the towers." That means One World Trade Center is in a state of noncompliance with its original 2007 agreement. Even so, it's difficult to point fingers at who's responsible for fixing the matter. Richard Hankin, a filmaker who directed a documentary about the "deeply convoluted progress" at the site, told Mother Jones, "Over the years, the sheer size and complexity of the bureaucracy has often made it impossible to figure out who's responsible for any given area or ultimate oversight ... It's that classic situation: The right arm is unaware of what the left arm is doing, compounded by the fact that it's often a new left arm."

As recently as May, the US Green Building Council still projects that One World Trade Center will achieve LEED gold status, but that doesn't change the fact that the component that was to be most singly responsible for helping the building achieve that end is out of the picture entirely.

UPDATE: A representative from site developer Durst Organization has reached out to clarify that new fuel cells or other "more environmentally responsible technology" will be installed into the building once the interim loading dock is decommissioned and disassembled. Curbed regrets the error.
· The Freedom Tower Was Supposed to Be the Greenest Building in America. So What Went Wrong? [Mother Jones]
· All One World Trade Center coverage [Curbed]

One World Trade Center Freedom Tower

72 Vesey Street, New York, NY 10006