When plans for the recently opened One World Trade Center were first made public years ago, they promised to deliver not only one of the tallest and most impressive buildings in the world, but also one of the greenest. And although the original concept included ultra-advanced, large-scale environmental features in order to achieve LEED Gold certification, the final version of the building falls noticeably short of its initial green objectives. Why? Unfortunately, it looks like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy is to blame once again.


In a 26-page Port Authority report obtained by Climate Desk and revealed by Mother Jones, it appears that the superstorm caused massive damage to the One World Trade Center’s $10.6 million clean-power sources.

Related: WTC Complex Aiming for LEED Gold, Will Be The Largest Green Project in NYC

According to the report, approximately 200 million gallons of water flooded the lower levels of the building’s construction site. However, along with the water damage, which had been reported at the time, the storm managed to destroy nine fuel cells stored in the building.

These fuel cells were a significant part of the building’s ambitious energy plan that stemmed from a $10.6 million dollar deal with Connecticut’s UTC Power Company. According to Mother Jones, the nine cells were slated to be the heart of the WTC complex’s electricity source, providing 10% of Tower One’s electricity needs and a combined 30% in towers Three and Four.

Related: 6 Important Facts You May Not Know About One World Trade Center

After the hurricane damage was cleaned up, the fuel cells for towers Three and Four were replaced. However, One World Trade Center was opened without replacing the fuel cells, essentially scrapping the building’s hopes for LEED certification and leaving many wondering why.

Unfortunately for the environment, it was financial pressure that beat out the project’s clean energy objectives. With Tower One’s first major tenant, publishing giant Condé Nast, chomping at the bit to move into the building, those in charge made the decision to forgo the replacement fuel cells in order to meet the $2 billion deal’s move-in deadline. According to the lease contract, a late move-in would have been tremendously expensive for the Port Authority.

+ One World Trade Center

Via Mother Jones