City of Hoboken
At a Glance
Clean and Renewable Energy
New Brunswick, NJ
Devashree Ghosh created a toolkit to enable city administrators to implement resilient, sustainable microgrids.
The City of Hoboken in partnership with Greener by Design enlisted the help of EDF Climate Corps fellow Devashree Ghosh to develop a Resilient Microgrids Toolkit. In October of 2012, the City of Hoboken was devastated by Superstorm Sandy, with approximately 70 percent of the city having been flooded. In the aftermath, Mayor Dawn Zimmer as well as many other city stakeholders came to understand that a microgrid might be a way to “keep the lights on” and also enable citizens to shelter safely in place during the next big storm. Ghosh’s role in this large project would be to create a shareable and user-friendly toolkit that would engage stakeholders and provide them with the tools necessary to navigate the tricky process of establishing a clean and resilient microgrid. Cities up and down the east coast look just like Hoboken and face the same challenges due to rising sea levels, increased dependence on energy and worsening storms; therefore, this toolkit was conceived to be not just for Hoboken, but for any city that could benefit from a resilient microgrid.
Ghosh began her work by brainstorming with Gail Lalla, the project lead from Greener by Design. They determined that to fully engage the necessary stakeholders to get a microgrid off of the ground, these stakeholders would need something viable and concrete to interact with that provided resources and made the imposing task of setting up a microgrid easier. They quickly agreed that Ghosh could take up this part of the project as her summer engagement, and so she began researching microgrids, interviewing stakeholders and learning all of the best practices she could so that she could incorporate that knowledge into the toolkit.
Ghosh encountered her biggest challenge when she began to develop a model for a carbon-neutral microgrid. She found that, with the current technology, pricing and incentives available, this would be unachievable. There was no way the buildings proposed to be connected to the Hoboken microgrid could become carbon-neutral from the start. However, she still went ahead and created templates for collecting data and emissions monitoring and laid out directives for pursuing carbon neutrality over time. She hoped that, by including directives in the template about using renewable energy and energy efficiency, the toolkit would lead microgrid projects to be substantially greener as compared to not looking at reducing emissions at all.
By the end of her summer engagement, Ghosh created a toolkit that included:
- A scoring system to quantify the benefits provided by a microgrid
- A points based system to benchmark and compare different microgrids
- A customizable timeline helping stakeholders plan a microgrid project
- Energy efficiency monitoring to ensure that buildings make efficient use of energy
- Emissions monitoring for city administrators, which could be used in emissions reporting
Ghosh presented her Resilient Microgrids Toolkit to stakeholders from Hoboken City Administration, Greener by Design and Environmental Defense Fund. The next steps are for the toolkit to be formatted into a user-friendly online resource that could be used by not only Hoboken, but also by the many other towns along the Atlantic coast also at risk due to rising tides and superstorms like Sandy.