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New York University Outlines Sustainability Efforts for 2018-19 and Beyond

NEW YORK, NY – New York University (NYU) President Andrew Hamilton and Provost Katherine Fleming recently convened a new working group to carry out new measures to make NYU more sustainable.  In 2018-19, this will include installing NYU’s first rooftop photovoltaic array, capital commitments to make NYU buildings more energy efficient, and steps in food and retail facilities, among others.

Since 2007, NYU has reduced its emissions by 30 percent. This annual reduction of 59,000 metric tons of carbon is the equivalent of planting all of Manhattan and all of Brooklyn in forest.  NYU has pledged to achieve a 50 percent reduction by 2025 and carbon neutrality by 2040.

Cecil Scheib, who leads NYU sustainability efforts, says, “Andy Hamilton has committed to making NYU one of the nation’s greenest campuses.  That commitment, and the guidance we received from more than 2,000 NYU community members who participated in our online dialogue, have helped shape the direction we will be taking.  It would be wonderful if there was a magic wand that could solve the problem of greenhouse gases, but there isn’t.  What is required instead is bringing to bear a wide range of determined efforts—and determined people—to achieve our goals.”

Making NYU’s Buildings More Energy Efficient
In an urban setting, inefficient buildings are a major source of energy waste, and a major opportunity for carbon reduction. Over 90 percent of NYU’s energy consumption is building-related.  Accordingly, the University is committing $3 to $4 million annually to ensure that every significant construction project NYU undertakes will be LEED certified, targeting Silver certification as a minimum.

NYU currently has 11 buildings that are certified LEED Platinum, Gold, or Silver. The renovations to 370 Jay St. (LEED Platinum), the former MTA headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn that will serve as a new academic building, is expected to cut energy costs by half.  Renovations to Brittany Hall lowered total energy use by 20 percent even with the addition of air conditioning.

The investment in energy reduction will not only advance the University’s carbon neutrality goal; it will also yield cost savings that will double the value of our initial investment.

Photovoltaic Panels on the Roof
In 2018-19, NYU will begin the installation of its first rooftop photovoltaic project atop Bobst Library. The 200 kWh panels are expected to generate 10 percent of the library’s daily electricity needs. At other times, Bobst Library will be powered by NYU’s high-efficiency cogeneration plant, which reduced power-related carbon emissions by 23 percent when it went online in 2011.

The installation of a photovoltaic panels on Bobst will serve as a pilot. Successful electrical production and cost savings generated by the Bobst array could, upon review, lead to expanding the program to other NYU buildings.

Sustainability Projects in NYU’s Food and Retail Facilities
NYU will take a number of steps in 2018-19 to enhance reduce waste, reduce use of plastics, and enhance sustainability:

  • Eliminating plastic straws: Beginning in fall 2018, NYU dining is eliminating plastic straws, encouraging diners to drink from the cup or use a paper straw. This will mean 1,140,000 fewer plastic straws in the waste stream annually.
  • Eliminating plastic bags: NYU dining and food sales facilities eliminated the use of plastic shopping bags last year.
  • Reducing K-cup waste: In 2018-19, NYU will give guidance to offices on how to get rid of waste while they hydrate and caffeinate. Water filters, K-cup recycling, and bean-to-cup machines will be appearing across campus.
  • High-tech waste management: To reduce food waste, NYU dining will launch a high-tech waste management system that can identify spikes in the dining facilities’ waste stream, allowing dining personnel to adjust ordering, portion size, or even recipes or menu choices to reduce food waste.

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