blue leaf logo      Issue 1 April 2008

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Leading The Way

On June 6, 2007 Chancellor  Goldstein publicly accepted Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC challenge to Universities to reduce their carbon footprint 30%  by 2017. 

Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Allan Dobrin formed a University-wide Task Force on Sustainability, co-chaired by Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management Iris Weinshall, Deputy Chief Operating Officer Ron Spalter and Professor Robert Paaswell of City College to oversee the decade long mission. The Executive Director of the Task Force is Tria Case, Executive Director of CUNY's Center for Sustainability Energy.


All 23 CUNY Institutions and their leaders are now developing individual and measurable ten year sustainability plans on their campuses in order to reach CUNY's target in 2017. At a kick off on October 24, 2007 the Task Force presented each campus a unique and proprietary guide to creating a Sustainable Campus Plan.


More broadly, 21 committees have been created to support this momentous effort and to incorporate sustainability into the fabric of the University by integrating sustainability into the curriculum, supporting research and partnering with civic and business leaders to achieve a more Sustainable CUNY, Sustainable New York. Each committee has a CUNY leader and has also been provided with a guidance document.


In order to support CUNY colleges in achieving their sustainability benchmarks and integrate sustainability into their buildings and on their campuses, the Task Force has established a CUNY Green Campus Loan Fund, with an initial commitment of 1 million dollars. This revolving fund will provide eligible CUNY applicants with capital funds for projects that can measurably reduce CUNY's carbon footprint or energy usage and meet fund payback parameters.


To further assist the campuses as they develop and implement their plans, the Task Force will convene a Sustainability Summit in the fall that will bring together 'green vendors', workshops and speakers.

Task Force Action in the Boroughs


In February over one hundred campus council executives and liaisons met on the CUNY Sustainability Project Vanguard Campuses. Appreciation goes out to Bronx Community College, Kingsborough Community College, City College of New York and Queens College for hosting the meetings. Information, ideas and action steps were shared and collaborations were formed on the spot. Working together we have sustainable power! Next up, it's the CUNY Sustainability Project Task Force Meeting representing the efforts of 21 committees who have met over this past semester. April 29th at the Murphy Institute, 19th floor.
12 pm-2pm.

E=mc2 Outside the Barrel  

by Ken Campanelli, CUNY FPCM

Everyone's talking about it but some of us are not sure what we can personally do about it.  A passing comment on the weather these days is likely to become a discussion on if it's warmer out than it used to be.  What I'm talking about is energy and global warming.  It is a complex topic so I must make some generalizations for the sake of brevity and clarity.

Worldwide energy demand is up; supply and production are limited so, as usual, we are all paying more for less. Since the major source of energy in the US is from fossil fuels, its rising price affects the cost of virtually everything we buy.   

However, the economic strain of the fossil fuel market is being overshadowed by the greater threat of global warming.  The correlation between man-made CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions and global warming is compelling. The 1903 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was one of the first to warn us that excessive fossil fuel combustion could eventually cause global warming.  A hundred years later, the effects are real.  We don't even fully understand its dynamics and its long term effect on living species yet we proceed merrily along.   


Even in the very unlikely chance that human-made emissions are not a significant contributor to global warming, we have only one planet so it is a gamble we can't afford to lose.  Nature and the physical laws can be very unforgiving and, as scientists know, many physical processes are not reversible, especially one of this magnitude. The U.S. alone, in 2006, spewed out 15,567,200,000,000 lbs. of CO2 equivalents  according to the government's Energy Information Administration.  CO2 equivalents are a compilation of several gases that promote global warming. The US, with only about 5% of the world's population, account for approximately 25% of worldwide CO2 emissions.  


When you turn on a light in your home, a typical power plant burns fossil fuel to produce the electricity to power your light bulb.  When the fossil fuel is burned, the carbon in the fuel combines with oxygen in the air to produce CO2 gas.  This gas is then emitted into the atmosphere. This is typical of all fossil fuel-burning technologies.  We burn fossil fuels to produce electricity, to power our cars, trains, planes, ships, to heat our homes, and on and on. They are called fossil fuels because they originated from decomposing organic matter millions of years ago.  The limited supply of these carbon-based fuels exists naturally in the earth in several major forms: coal, natural gas, oil.  


Although there are emissions-free alternatives to fossil fuels such as nuclear energy, many citizens are unconvinced of their safety and are not sure we have a workable plan to address their waste products. For now, the most cost effective & environmentally friendly way to help our planet is to reduce our consumption and develop renewable sources of energy. Currently, our electric energy use is so intense that we need large scale power plants to meet electric demand.   If we reduce our consumption, then smaller scale, renewable technologies -like solar, wind, biomass, biofuels and geothermal- can play a more significant role in meeting energy demand. It is a complex topic and I would write more but I am running out of energy. Stay tuned for future issues of this newsletter and I will keep adding to our shared understanding of our energy options.

Sustainable CUNY Suggestion Program 


Rewarding ideas that can help CUNY achieve its Sustainability goals

The CUNY Task Force on Sustainability has created the Sustainable CUNY Suggestion Program in order to increase the involvement from the 450,000 students, faculty and staff who come through the doors of a CUNY facility and to achieve the worthy goal of reducing CUNY's carbon footprint by 30% in 10 years. 

Each CUNY Campus has the opportunity to establish its own unique Sustainable Suggestion Program with $1,000 funded from the Task Force to encourage suggestions for sustainability related activities at CUNY.  The program should include:

  • The marketing and promotion of the Sustainable Suggestion Program/Idea/Contest should be designed to spread the word about sustainability, raise awareness, personal and inspire involvement in campus sustainable activities. Get everyone excited about what your campus is doing and get everyone thinking about sustainability and what they can do to help!
  • The winning idea(s) should be something that can be implemented on your campus, and beyond, with a methodology for tracking the effectiveness of the sustainable idea.

A diplomatic process will be established where all students, faculty and staff can submit a cost saving or energy saving idea related to sustainability that can be implemented on a CUNY campus. The validity and feasibility of the idea as well as the implementation process will be carefully weighed and vetted. Funds are immediately available. Campuses can look to programs such as The Employee Involvement Association, (formerly the National Association of Suggestion Systems), a 65 year old not-for-profit, for guidance in establishing their program protocol. Winning ideas from each campus will be shared and acknowledged throughout CUNY.


CUNY Green Campus Loan Fund


The Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has secured a $1 million grant to initiate a revolving Green Campus Loan Fund in order to assist CUNY colleges with integrating sustainability into their buildings. The program is being administered in partnership with CUNY Economic Development Corporation. 

The CUNY Green Campus Loan Fund will provide eligible CUNY applicants with capital funds for projects that can measurably reduce CUNY's environmental impact and demonstrate monetary savings to repay the no interest loan. An application process is under development that will include a panel that will review and award applicants. Projects will be selected on their ability to contribute to one or more of the following:

  • Emission reductions
  • Energy conservation
  • Water conservation
  • Sewage and storm water output reductions
  • Hazardous waste reduction
  • Solid waste reduction
  • Liquid waste reduction
  • Gaseous emissions reduction
  • Operation improvement that decrease environmental impacts
  • Operation improvements that decrease energy use
Sustainabilty Travelsblue cuny
Ron Spalter


Always on the lookout for local and global examples of sustainability, I was surprised on a recent trip to a remote part of the Serengetti to see solar power in action. At a mobile tent camp, the safari operators chose to install solar panels in lieu of a fossil fuel generator to create the electric power needed to run the camp.
The interesting fact is that as the camp moves around Tanzania and Kenya to follow the Great Migration (more than a million Wildebeast, Zebras and Gazelles seeking water and grazing opportunities), they are willing to set up the photovoltaic array again and again, rather than simply run a small generator. When I asked why they took the trouble, they explained that they would rather work a little harder than spoil the impact of the wilderness for their guests.
Working Together....

Training Committee Chair Suri Duitch brought CUNY campuses to the table to discuss collaborating on training programs for 'green collar' jobs. The result was a new endeavor coined Green Energy Training @ CUNY (GET@ CUNY) that seeks to take existing, and eventually new, energy related training courses and make them available as credit and non credit modules at more campuses and even as distance learning courses.


The Center for Sustainable Energy at BCC leads the effort with its PV and new Energy Training courses and is joined by Kingsborough Community College, LaGuardia Community College, New York City College of Technology and Borough of Manhattan City College. Seventeen agencies (to-date), such as the Workforce Investment Board, 32 BJ, and the NYC EDC  pledged their support and will work together to ensure a steady 'pipeline' of students into the classes and into green collar jobs. GET @ CUNY's first effort was an application for a one million dollar DOL grant.

In This Issue
Leading the Way
Task Force Action
Outside the Barrel
Sustainble CUNY Suggestion Program
CUNY Green Campus Loan Fund
Sustainability Travels
Campus Sustainability in Action
"Our success in achieving our targets by 2017 is critical to the quality of life in an increasingly populated New York City..."
Matthew Goldstein

CUNY Website

News, events, progam
information, podcasts, videos, applications and more can be found on our new website:
Sustainable CUNY

Sustainability Project Task Force

Sponsored by:

Allan Dobrin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer



Iris Weinshall, Vice Chancellor, Facilities Planning, Construction and Management

Ron Spalter, Deputy Chief Operating Officer

Robert Paaswell Distinguished Professor,  City College


Executive Director

Tria Case, Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Energy at BCC.


Project Manager 

Laura Saegert-Winkle


Communication Director

Laurie Reilly, Communications and Special Projects Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College

Campus Sustainability in Action
College of Staten Island cooking oil
The College of Staten Island(CSI) has purchased a Biodiesel Kit that will allow them to convert used cooking oil from their cafeteria into biodiesel fuel which will then be put into their diesel fuel tank as an additive.  They use diesel fuel to power some of their larger vehicles (garbage truck, street sweeper, dump truck) and all of their portable light towers.The kit will produce 80 gallons at a time and has an educational effect as students will be drawn into the project.  CSI has now received a commitment from their sister colleges on Staten Island, St. John's and Wagner for donations of their used cooking oil for the project.
Bronx Community College white lite bulb
Bronx Community took the 'Change the Light, Change the World' (CLCW) pledge to the community. The CLCW project is part of the Energy Star Program which is sponsored by the U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE.  The primary goal of this project is putting energy concepts into action and education. A generous donation of 300 compact flourescent lights (CFL) has already been provided for this program. BCC together with the Center for Sustainable Energy trained 10 BCC students to become energy advocates. The energy advocates are making short in-class presentations to students in Chemistry, Physics, Business & Information Systems, Health, Physical Education, English, Social Science and History department classes. Students are provided pledges to take home to their parents and CFL's are given to raffle winners. The pledge each participant signs says the following: "I pledge to do my part to save energy and help protect our environment by changing a light in my home to an Energy Star qualified one!" 
Kingsborough Community College KCC Mug
In an effort to reduce the use of styrofoam, KCC purchased 2500 mugs made from home recycled materials. A limited amount of mugs will be given away at their Eco Festival (April 8-10). After May 1 the mugs will be sold in the KCC bookstore with refills available at the discounted price of $1.19 at Beach Cafe, Mac Cafe and T2GO.
Queens College Queens is green logo
Queens College has a fleet of 12 electric cars that are used for a variety of purposes on campus, including security patrols, the transportation of mail and maintenance equipment, and the performance of grounds crew duties. Our public safety officers use a Global Electric Motorcar (or GEM Car) and two Club Car Golf Carts, in addition to gas-powered vehicles, to conduct patrols of pathways and parking lots. GEM Cars are also used by buildings and grounds employees to ferry crews, tools, and equipment from building to building. Other electric cars in use include a Toro Workman-which can travel easily over grass and is ideal for our grounds crews' seasonal work-and flatbed Taylor-Dunn vehicles with large storage capacity for supplies, some with mounted toolboxes. The cars need only an overnight charge to be ready for use the next day. With regular service, batteries can last up to two years.
New York City College of Technology stacks of paper

One of the most effective sustainability projects initiated at New York City College of Technology focused on reducing the amount of waste produced by our purchasing and procurement system.  Prior to the introduction of our e-procurement system (EPS), every purchasing transaction completed by City Tech generated at least twenty pages of paper and often many, many, many more.  The system-wide adoption of EPS has enabled us to successfully reduce that number (20+), down to just one copy per transaction. Since City Tech completes several thousand purchasing transactions each year, adopting EPS alone has saved CUNY at least 200,000 pieces of paper since 2006.  We also score sustainability savings by no longer transporting, printing, filing, storing, shredding, and disposing all that paper.  EPS complements other paperless administrative systems already in place at City Tech, including those used by Human Resources, Buildings and Grounds, Information Technology Services, and campus-wide electronic supplies ordering through a desktop link to Staples.

York Collegegreener hybrid
The York Green Initiatives committee for 2007-08 has set aside $10,000.00 to fund faculty or staff proposals for involving creative green initiatives. Proposals are invited from individuals or teams who want to participate in York's green efforts. No single proposal can exceed $5,000.00. York College has also assigned hybrid parking spots for members of the campus community with hybrid vehicles.
Bike WheelJohn Jay College

At John Jay College more than 90% of our staff and students use mass transit. To encourage a more carbon friendly form of transportation we have installed several racks for bicycles at the entrance to our buildings. We are also committed to replacing our fleet of vehicles with fuel efficient vehicles and have purchased a hybrid Toyota Pirus. We have stepped up our recycling efforts by using a bailer to bind our corrugated cardboard which has dramatically increased the quantity of mixed paper being recycled. 

Baruch CollegeBaruch Vertical Campus

Baruch College has a number of sustainable projects in the works. The most significant is the retro-commissioning project for the Newman Vertical Campus (NVC) and the Library buildings. The retro-commissioning project will look at options to reduce both energy consumption and water usage by replacing and/or repairing existing HVAC systems, etc. This DASNY/CUNY/Baruch project is scheduled to kick-off in late April, 2008.Other key sustainability projects include: replacement of all restroom sink valves with automatic shut-off valves in the NVC and Library buildings, planned installation of photovoltaic panels to energize the new north campus exterior lighting, the testing of water filtration systems to replace bottled water stations around campus, and we are currently out to bid for a cafeteria vendor who, after the award, will be required to operate under the strictest sustainability standards.

CUNY School of LawDOE logo
The CUNY School of Law has reduced its annual vehicle CO2 emissions by 37.53% by replacing old vehicles with newer, more efficient and less polluting models.  The school was able to calculate this result using a formula provided by the US Department of Energy and International Affairs website  The law school fleet includes hybrid vehicles wherever possible, but the school is disappointed at the lack of such options for many applications.  Specifically, there are no hybrid minivans.  Nor are there even diesel engine options.  After analyzing the total CO2 impact, the law school went ahead with minivan purchases because their flexible configuration allows each minivan to do the work of two vehicles (one for cargo and one for passengers).  
The City College of New York CCNY Logo
CCNY has re-branded its sustainability initiative as CCNY Green and instituted a campus-wide recycling program.  In the Grove School of Engineering, Dr. Sanjoy Banerjee has joined the faculty as Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the new Energy Institute. Professor Banerjee, who previously taught at University of California Santa Barbara, will spearhead efforts to develop sustainable energy technology to generate electricity from renewable, but intermittent, sources as well as existing nighttime overcapacity, store it efficiently and deliver it on demand. 

In other developments, the College has replaced gasoline-power cars and buses with vehicles powered by electricity and compressed natural gas and has arranged for food service waste oils to be recycled into bio-diesel fuel.

Sustainable CUNY

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