In contrast to the previous two weeks of high concentration of topics about entrepreneurship and corporate finance, the third week of the New York module focused on sustainability in urban development and agriculture. Key questions like how can a city of eight million inhabitants tackle the tough questions of environmental sustainability, urban housing and „green” agriculture were the focal points of our discussion.
The first day we had Andrew Pek from Pivot Leadership giving us an enlightening presentation about leadership and sustainability. Following that we had Daniel Pianko from the University Venturs Fund delivering a strikingly disruptive, but mutually constructive presentation on how higher education is being transformed by his organization to adapt to the rapidly changing global demand for highly trained generalists in a number of complex fields. At the end of the first day we visited Green Map System where we have received an on the spot insight into how the East Village of Manhattan, a relatively, but considerably „poor” neighbourhood, hit worst by Sandy and Irene, manages on a day to day basis the development of community gardens.
Following the first peek into urban sustainability at Green Map System we have made our way to one of Manhattans most prominent real estate management firms, Rudin Management, where we have gained valuable insight into how the energy cycle of skyscrapers is managed using big data and a specifically designed building management system. It was very inspiring to see that a city primarily developed in the 1930s for a different age makes use of 21st century technology to bring about a sustainable, environmentally friendlier environment.
The afternoon after the uplifting experience at Rudin Management was spent at Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The pioneer in urban agricultural innovation and sustainability in New York, Brooklyn Grange provided yet another focal point to grasp in the quest for understanding where the financial capital is heading in terms of business landscape diversification. What was truly valuable to see was that the rooftop farms are managed with sound business logic paying close attention to the cost-benefit analysis of the investment. This is where social entrepreneurship culminates to its highest point. Where the entrepreneurial spirit is about value creation for the local community, but at the same time is also about being the messenger of a solution that strives to be an instrumental driver of the long debated paradigm shift to make the world an environmentally better place.