Interning at the NYC Housing Authority

This summer Jessica Kaliski, MBA Class of '20, interned at the NYC Housing Authority. Read on to learn about her time interning with NYCHA: 

Tell me about your summer internship experience. Where did you work and what types of projects did you work on?

This summer, as part of the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellowship, I interned at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Ironically, my project had nothing to do with housing! Rather, I helped create a strategic plan and roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from NYCHA’s 915 on-road vehicle fleet. Earlier this year, NYCHA joined the Fleet Federation, headed by NYC Department for Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and designed to streamline fleet administrative processes among city agencies. As a member, NYCHA is responsible for adhering to the Federation’s sustainability goals, which build upon NYC’s One New York: A Plan for a Strong and Just City.

In order to create NYCHA’s Clean Fleet Plan, we first had to estimate NYCHA’s annual GHG emissions from fleet operations. Just a few months ago, NYCHA installed sensors on each of its vehicles allowing us to obtain information on routes, miles traveled, gallons used, even speeding violations, among other factors. This data was critical in estimating NYCHA’s baseline emissions. In addition, we had the opportunity to have conversations with many individuals internal to NYCHA (law, accounting, real estate, etc.) and external to NYCHA (DCAS, other city agencies, EV charging infrastructure vendors, etc.) to create a well-informed strategic plan.

What was the most valuable thing you learned at your internship?

I think there were two main things I learned during my internship. The first was the importance of data analysis. I had worked in Excel before, but primarily utilizing or adjusting existing models or doing basic data calculations. This internship gave me the opportunity to create a tool to estimate GHG emission and financial savings NYCHA would obtain by switching to electric vehicles or using alternative fuel (i.e. biodiesel or renewable diesel). I had a lot of fun, and a lot of frustration nonetheless, adjusting Argonne National Laboratory’s Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool to fit NYCHA’s current vehicle composition and potential replacement options.

The second was how to create useful yet concise PowerPoint presentations that are convincing to various individuals. We were fortunate enough to have a diverse audience of high level NYCHA individuals at our final presentation, including representatives from the law and financial departments. Throughout my internship, I recognized the necessity of getting buy-in at all levels and showcasing both the environmental and financial arguments to the proposed Clean Fleet Plan. Our final presentation tried to address potential issues or concerns these individuals would have, and moreover throughout our internship we tried to find ways to reduce any potential pushback and incorporate these recommendations into our final presentation and report.