The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design seeks to assist the Cooper Union in providing the cross-disciplinary knowledge and practical skills architects, engineers, and artists need to successfully meet the professional and personal challenges of creating a sustainable society; one that prospers because its designed economic, social, and engineering systems work in harmony with the ecological dynamics and resource limitations of the earth. The Institute will exchange knowledge and acquired skills in a mutually enlightening dialogue with the larger intellectual and civic communities, and through hands on applications and action research into the principles of sustainability.

Program Description

EMISSIONS:  Images from the Mixing Layer

Odorless, invisible, lighter-than-air methane is a significant urban pollution source that is not being adequately addressed.

Is Manhattan sitting in a cloud of methane?

Presented by the Cooper Union School of Art and the Institute for Sustainable Design

Exhibition: October 22-November 8 Great Hall Gallery, Cooper Union Opening Reception:  6:00 to 8:00, October 22

Artists:  Coleen Fitzgibbon, Ruth Hardinger, Joe Lewis, Christy Rupp, Rebecca Smith

Panel Discussion: October 30, 6:30 PM  (doors open at 6 PM) Great Hall Auditorium, Cooper Union

Panel Participants:

Al Appleton, Moderator.  Senior Fellow for Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design; former Commissioner of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.

Barbara Arrindell.  Artist, founder and Director of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability.

Ruth Hardinger.  Artist.

Bryce Payne, Ph.D.  Associate Research Professor, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA.  Senior Fellow of Wake Forest University CEES, Winston-Salem, NC.

Rebecca Smith.  Artist.

Samara Swanston.  Legislative Counsel to the Environmental Protection Committee of New York City Council.

EMISSIONS:  Images from the Mixing Layer is a two-part program consisting of a panel discussion moderated by Al Appleton and an art exhibition curated by Ruth Hardinger and Rebecca Smith.  It is sponsored by the Institute for Sustainable Design at Cooper Union for Marfa Dialogues/NY in cooperation with The Rauschenberg Foundation.

In a confluence of climate chance science, environmental activism and artistic practice, EMISSIONS: Images from the Mixing Layer initiates ways of sourcing information, sharing data and engaging in its visual expression.  The project was developed by Ruth Hardinger and Rebecca Smith and draws upon a scientific study of fugitive methane emissions in Manhattan.  Under the aegis of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Gas Safety Inc. used new, highly sensitive technology to measure methane leaks over 160 miles of roadway in Manhattan.

Thanks to this study, we now know that the island exists in a cloud of elevated methane levels – originating primarily from aging natural gas pipelines.  Since natural gas is over 90% raw methane, this is a significant climate change factor because methane is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  The study challenges the notion that natural gas is part of the solution to climate change.  In fact, it suggests that methane leakage throughout its life cycle makes natural gas a greater contributor to climate change than other fossil fuels.

Link to Manhattan methane emissions study:

Special Thanks