Street Furniture That Helps Fight Pollution and Save Lives

Posted November 29th 2016


via Co.Design

To expedite responses to emergency calls, the New York Fire Department positions ambulances throughout the city. When you need an ambulance, you need it quickly. But all the down time between calls is not without costs. While the vehicles are parked, their engines are left running to power on-board communications systems and refrigerators (medicines must be temperature-controlled). Noise and emissions are byproducts of idling engines—well-documented nuisances that draw ire from residents living near ambulance stations. The FDNY has a design solution: build a network of plug-in charging pedestals.

Designed by Ignacio Ciocchini for the energy start-up MOVE Systems, the new FDNY ambulance pedestals are emblematic of a wave of infrastructure slowly creeping into New York that uses technology to combat some of the most pressing issues facing the city.

To Ciocchini—who has designed some of the most recognizable street furniture in New York City, like these city benches and these Bryant Park trash cans, and consulted on the WalkNYC wayfinding maps—the hallmark of well-designed street furniture is something that adds a positive element to the urban landscape and doesn’t detract from the experience of walking down the street.

One idling ambulance produces an estimated 45 tons of air pollution annually and every hour it idles, it burns 1.5 gallons of fuel, expels 33 pounds of carbon dioxide, and puts 35 to 50 miles worth of wear and tear on the engine, according to the trade publication Fire Apparatus magazine. By implementing these pedestals–which recently earned an Excellence In Design award from the NYC Public Design Commission–NYC is demonstrating how it can create ways for the city to operate more efficiently and do so in a forward-looking, environmentally friendly way.