CUNY Sustainability Project                                                                            Spring 2009
LaGuardia Visit to Botanical Gardens

CUNY's Extended Earth HourSustainable CUNY

"Con Edison control room operators reported that while Earth Hour was scheduled between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., New Yorkers began shutting off lights and other electrical devices starting at 8 p.m."

An unexpected change in timing gave CUNY the opportunity to make a noticeable difference during Earth Hour 2009, a global effort led by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Earth Hour this year was originally scheduled to be celebrated on Saturday, March 28, from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm EST.  During the designated hour, participating cities, agencies, and institutions committed to turning off selected lights as a symbol of solidarity with all those who are taking action to address climate change.

In keeping with the University's commitment to sustainability, CUNY campuses across the five boroughs immediately began to promote their plans to dim their lights from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm. Shortly thereafter notice was posted on the WWF supported Earth Hour site, that in order to coordinate with the over 4000 cities now participating in this world wide effort in 88 countries across more than 20 times zones, Earth Hour 2009 would change their timing to officially run from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm EST.

Ron Spalter, Deputy COO for CUNY and Co-Chair of the CUNY Sustainability Project, suggested that CUNY campuses lead the way for New York City and kick off the sustainability awareness effort by dimming CUNY's lights at 8:00 pm as planned, and continue on through the duration of the official Earth Hour.

Earth hour 2 Lehman"New Yorkers trimmed their electrical use by approximately 65 megawatt hours (MWh) over a 90-minute period on Saturday night during Earth Hour, compared to a similar day last year. The energy savings is equivalent to powering 65,000 homes." News

From Brooklyn College's Library Cupola to John Jay's North Hall & Harren Hall to Kingsborough's Rotunda and Robert J. Kibbee Library the lights were dimmed at 8:00 pm. The College of Staten Island turned off lights in the Cupolas of the Library and the Student Center and Lehman turned off all the lights in their APEX building. Medgar Evers College supported the effort by turning off the lights in their School of Business and Student Support Services Building and the Borough of Manhattan Community College dimmed the lights of its torch at 199 Chambers Street.  Baruch participated by turning off lights in their bookstore and in portions of their Newman Vertical Campus as campus by campus CUNY lowered their lights and emissions and raised awareness...for an extended Earth Hour.

The data is clear. While Con Edison expected to track electricity savings and emission reductions for 60 minutes, they immediately noticed the savings were actually over a 90 minute time period, matching CUNY's efforts. CUNY made a measurable difference. This sustainable action is only one symbolic sign of the many sustainable changes that CUNY has made across its 23 academic institutions.
Sustainability Without Leaving Your Desk
Neil Richardson, Project Manager
CUNY Sustainability Project

The catchphrase for Webex is 'We must start meeting like this' and if the past month is anything to go by, meetings amongst Sustainable CUNY's 400-plus stakeholders may just be heading in a whole new direction - online.

Webex graphicWebex, a web-based meeting tool (owned and operated by Cisco Systems), not only solves the sometimes intractable problem of getting all the right people together in the same place at the same time, but it does so without emitting virtually any carbon.

Zero-emissions meetings. With the University's overarching objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, that's a viable action that is easy to utilize. Instead of hopping on the subway or turning the ignition to cross town and swap one chair for another, staff, faculty and students engaged in the Sustainable CUNY project can get together to share knowledge, exchange experiences and resolve problems just by clicking a mouse.

Since early April, to support CUNY's 19 campuses as they continue to move forward with their 10-Year Sustainability Plans, eight online workshops have already taken place, looking at topics such as recycling, water, energy, transportation and education & outreach. The objective: bringing people together, getting a conversation going and maintaining the momentum behind Sustainable CUNY. More are scheduled to take place over the coming months and the tool is full of potential to bring geographically disparate groups together in the future, as the Sustainable CUNY project evolves. All whilst cutting emissions, eliminating the need for handouts and reducing journey times to zero. Better still, if someone is unable to join the online session 'live' and wants to know what was discussed or decided, they can playback a recording of the meeting in full any time they choose.

No degree in computer science is needed to take part in a Webex meeting and while the first time can seem a little different to a face-to-face meeting, get ready to have more and more meetings from the comfort of your own desk.
Outside the Barrel
Demanding Less...

By Ken Campanelli

Manager for Energy Conservation Programs-CUNY

Energy conservation is a year round effort but the summer season offers a unique opportunity to further reduce electric costs and improve the environment. Many businesses are seasonal and just as Macy's has its peak holiday season, the electric industry also has its peak season. 

Power Plant Quote finalConsumption of electricity is highest during the summer months primarily due to the high use of air conditioning. Peak electric usage is important because it is the major factor that determines the maximum capacity of the electric system's infrastructure. 

What is important to understand is that the summer peak load event lasts typically only a few hours but it determines the minimum amount of electric infrastructure needed in the future.  According to the Con Edison website, the most recent peak usage occurred on August 2, 2006 at 5 PM when electric demand was 13,141 Megawatts (MW).  This peak value is used to establish the future electric system capacity required to maintain a safe and reliable electric system.  If there are insufficient resources to meet future electric demand, new power plants and/or new transmission and distribution wires may have to be built.  

The two major components of the electric system infrastructure are the power plants that produce electricity and the transmission/distribution system (T&D) that delivers the electricity to your home or business via electric wires.  You don't see the electric wires in Manhattan because they are buried underground. The NY Independent System Operator, who manages NY State's electric transmission grid, requires approximately a 15% reserve margin.  The reserve margin depends on the current system peak as well as other contributing factors such as economic growth projections and contingency.  As a result, the electric system must be able to generate and deliver ~15% above the system peak demand forecast. If new infrastructure is required, it is needed only on those few peak summer days during greatest consumer demand.   For the remainder of the year when consumption is lower, we, unfortunately, pay for this underutilized capacity.

It is our responsibility as ratepayers to reduce our peak summer demand to minimize this underutilized capacity. If consumers curtailed their usage just during the few hours on those few peak summer days, we could reduce the need for new power plants and T&D system upgrades. Furthermore, dirtier, less efficient power plants operate on peak days and disproportionately increase pollution.   Since the price of power is market based, peak power is typically very expensive.

CUNY participates in the New York Power Authority's Peak Load Program in which our campus' facilities personnel reduce electric consumption when notified on peak electric days.   This reduces demand on the electric grid when their resources are operating at or near maximum capacity.   CUNY contributes to this effort by turning off lights, increasing air-conditioned temperatures, turning off non-critical equipment, etc.  These events typically last several hours on several days per year yet it has a lasting effect on ratepayer costs.  CUNY has committed to reduce peak load by almost 9 MW this summer.

For just those few hours, usually in the late afternoon on peak summer days, try to curtail your electric usage during peak critical times.  You are paying for much more than just energy at that point. You will soon be paying to increase system infrastructure that is underutilized for most of the year since it is based on your usage for just that one peak summer hour.  On those hottest of summer days, reduce your electric demand by turning off any unnecessary appliances and try to be less demanding.
For Con Ed customers, their demand response program can be found on their website

 Sustainable Student Leaders
 LaGuardia Visit to Botanical Gardens
Catherine Garcia

Students across CUNY campuses convened at Hunter College on April 24th, 2009 at the 1st Annual CUNY Leaders in Environmental Action Forum (CUNY LEAF).  David Weinberger, a Hunter College sophomore student and CUNY LEAF Founder, was inspired after attending the Power Shift youth summit in February which attracted nearly 12,000 students from every congressional district of the country. "If Power Shift could bring together 20,000 students from across the country for a weekend, then why couldn't we bring representatives from each CUNY school together for a day?" noted Weinberger in his opening remarks, addressing the need for students, faculty and senior administration to come together in addressing sustainability at CUNY.  

The CUNY LEAF panel discussion was led by CUNY Sustainability and Productivity Associate Amy Flannery, celebrated environmentalist and award-winning filmmaker Gianna Savoie, Noah Ginsburg, student and President of the Hunter Solar Project, Jenni Jenkins, co-founder of the Green Apple Multimedia Association and Dennis Markatos-Soriano from the College Solar Initiative organization.  Savoie, a scientist by academic training, and Jenkins, encouraged students to find ways of engaging their personal interests, skills and experiences and adding an environmental "mix" to them.  The forum culminated in a presentation session of the initiatives taking place at other campuses.  Catherine Garcia, Vice-President of the Hunter Solar Project, highlighted the achievements of her student organization that recently raised funds for a small PV system at Hunter College to promote renewable energy education.  "This was not a stroke of luck; It was hard work and persistence, and attests to the fact that by working together, the CUNY community gets things done". 

Many students met after the forum to exchange contact information and explore ways of collaborating to create similar events.  "If you got anything out of today's conference, I hope it's this: don't abandon your life for the cause. The ultimate achievement of sustainability is not attainable by the forfeiture of your other interests;" Weinberger said in his closing remarks.  "Each one of you has something different to add to the movement, and I hope that you will go back to your campus with the resources to fight using the tools that you already possess."
Campus Sustainability in Action
Highlights of just some of the many activities across CUNY Campuses as reported by Campus Communication Liaisons.
Baruch is adding sustainability to their curriculum in numerous areas including in the School of Public Affairs and with LEED certification programs in their Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute. Through their Continuing Education programs, they are also reaching out to both students and the surrounding community with summer courses offered in sustainability. A variety of student run clubs organized their Earth Day activities that included a farmers market, speakers, and tabling information. Baruch has completed a benchmark survey on sustainability and will follow the participants to track changes, with the reports to be posted. Baruch researchers have applied for several grants and more information can be found on their website.

Borough of Manhattan Community College
BMCC has completed their DASNY/Genesys energy audit on upgrading the college's energy plant to be more energy efficient and will now use the report to attract funding support for the recommended retrofits that will also serve to lower the college's carbon footprint.  BMCC had 10 additional bike racks installed at the entrances to the college's main building and purchased and placed 50 recycling bins around the campus.  Their food service vendor has replaced Styrofoam foam cups with paper cups and the lighting system in the pool has been replaced with a new NY Power Authority approved tube lighting system.  BMCC has been installing environmentally responsible floor coverings that conform to high recycled materials indexing.

Bronx Community College
Bronx Community College organized a 'Green Jobs for a Green Sustainable Future' event with various activities including a poster-display & essay contest, power-point presentations and guest speakers to promote Earth Day 2009. Expanded Earth Week activities included a full range of co-curricular offerings: films, lectures, Solar Day, Green Jobs Fair, and Environmental Justice information. All paper, glass, metal and plastic are now being recycled on campus and Royal Waste Services is the vendor. BCC is procuring an electric truck, which replaces a gasoline vehicle.

Brooklyn College held 'Earth Day on the Quad'; an informational fair about energy efficiency, recycling and organic food as well as a look at the role Brooklyn College plays in the natural world. The Center for the Study of Brooklyn, on behalf of the Brooklyn Sustainability council has convened visioning sessions for each of the key areas and had over 100 participants from the campus community.

The College of Staten Island has a new sustainability website and is planting a herb and vegetable garden that will be used in dining services. Campus-wide, CSI has developed recycling centers in each building and is striving to become a paperless campus. The College is exploring the possibility of converting used cooking oil into biodiesel, a substance that when added to diesel fuel, reduces greenhouse gas emissions. CSI is in the process of planting 1,550 new trees as part of the CUNY Dig In and the Mayor's Million Trees NYC initiative.

CUNY School of Law is now using 30% recycled paper for the vast bulk of their needs and is experimenting with green cleaning products as well. CUNY Law students are very engaged and are working with Queens Botanical garden and a local High School on waste and composting. Students have started a blog called 'CUNY Appleseed'  and have also applied for a grant for students to work with other CUNY campuses on the legal end of sustainability issues.

Hostos Community College dimmed the lights on their Pedestrian Bridge for Earth Hour and students participated in the CUNY-wide community service initiative to plant trees in the parks of New York City as part of the CUNY DIG In and the Million Trees NYC initiative. Hostos enacted a new recycling program as well as an educational campaign to encourage compliance.

Hunter held a sustainability forum entitled "Talking Green", featuring speakers from Al Gore's Climate Project as well as a local councilman. Battery recycling is now active in all areas of all Hunter campuses, and the campus community appears to be taking full advantage of the many convenient places to dump used batteries. Hunter's swimming pool has undergone extensive renovations, which are designed with substantial energy efficiencies in mind, including a heat-conserving pool cover and an energy-saving de-humidification system. More on Hunter College's sustainable efforts can be found on their Hunter Green website.

John Jay College has now recycled approximately 30 tons of cardboard and is looking to turn the results of their efforts into a learning tool on their webpage and for classroom use. John Jay is ramping up their green procurement efforts as well as their recycling and recently purchased a trash compactor that will save them $20,000 a year in plastic garbage bags alone. John Jay is also switching to a greener fleet when they replace aging  vehicles and just purchased their 2nd hybrid.

Kingsborough Community College just received five million dollars from the Mayor's Energy Fund for a new boiler for the college and has completed a roofing project on a temporary building that will reduce their energy use considerably. KCC's computer center now has automatic shut offs for all their desktop computers and they have purchased energy & power efficient blade servers for their computer centers. They are greening their procurement and report good results using VanGuard Supplies and are now using 30% recyclable paper for everything and only buying energy star products for their computers monitors and printers. KCC planted 108 trees on campus, with another 130 on the way and is working on outside waste services that will come on campus to pick up recyclables.  KCC reports that their cafeterias are also on board with efforts to improve nutrition and are offering more fresh fruits and vegetable and striving to eliminate trans fat from the menu as well as offering more organic foods and snacks- even in their vending machines. The KCC EcoFestival was an outstanding 4 day effort that was well attended by students, faculty members and the community. A wealth of sustainable information and presentations can be found on their website

LaGuardia Community College worked with their cafeteria vendor MBJ and they have now stopped using Styrofoam cups and plates in favor of paper products. This includes services provided inside the cafeteria or through catered events. LAGCC's held a two day Earth Day Celebration that was covered by NY1 news and was a combined effort from students, faculty and staff. The event showcased student projects, green products and renewable solutions to everyday problems and was attended by local and national environmental organizations. A popular feature was a performance by a bluegrass band that has been involved in spreading awareness about mountaintop removal of the Appalachians by mining companies. More of LAGCC sustainable efforts can be found on their website 

Lehman College replaced their conventional lights with energy-saving lights in many of the buildings. Occupancy sensors were installed in classrooms and offices so that when the rooms are empty, the lights automatically shut off. The College also regularly composts grass clippings, leaves, and other materials, which are not only used to enrich the soil on campus, but also to distribute as part of the New York Botanical Garden's annual compost give away. Throughout the month of April, the Office of Community Service/Service-Learning and New Student Programs hosted a printer cartridge drive in honor of Earth Day.The central heating, cooling and power plant upgrade project, which is expected to be completed by 2013, will significantly reduce the College's carbon footprint.

Medgar Evers College reports that they have changed ALL the lighting fixtures on campus to energy efficient bulbs and have installed sensors that turn off lighting in areas not in use throughout their campus. Medgar Evers held their 13th Annual Environmental Issues Conference on March 3, 2008 with a focus on the subject of environmental sustainability particularly in relation to the five key dimensions of New York City's environment: land, air, water, energy, and transportation.

New York City College of Technology's Students of Sustainability Reach (SOSreach) and Theatreworks at New York City College of Technology will produce an eco-friendly vintage fashion show, "EcoEnvy: Be Seen in Green," on Friday, May 8, 2009.  "EcoEnvy" is intended to raise awareness about sustainability, introduce the audience to trends and practices in eco-friendly, cost-efficient fashion and showcase the work of young designers engaged in sustainable design. This event is a collaborative effort between City Tech, Fashion Institute of Technology, Aveda Institute New York, Baruch College/CUNY and Temple University students. The Department of African American Studies recenlty presented an exhibit and panel discussion on 'Go Black, Go Green: Protecting Our Communities, Saving Our Environment' - an exhibit on African Americans and the environment. New York City College of Technology is in the process of re-doing their energy plant, which is a multi-year process that will yield a great reduction in their carbon footprint.

Queens College hosted a very successful and well attended Green Business Summit that focused on attainable, measurable and sustainable tools that could easily be integrated into company practices- ones that were not too expensive and could be used on a daily basis. The Summit, Queens College first residence hall, is nearing competition and is expected to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements for Silver certification. Queens College is planting 63 trees they received from NYC dept of parks as part of the Million Trees NYC initiative and is offering six new 'green' courses this summer. They also report a tremendous response to their new recycling program.

Queensborough Community College maintains an on-campus greenhouse on top of their Medical Arts Building and as part of QCC's partnership with the NYC Department of Parks Million Trees NYC initiative, will have planted 300 hundred trees by May 1st, CUNY's Dig In day. QCC purchased a waste vegetable oil filter/recycler which will be used to fuel campus vehicles and for heating. QCC also recently purchased new outdoor solar powered LED lighting systems for light poles on campus. QCC has already installed a number of flushometers and automatic faucets in campus rest rooms, to help conserve water and has stepped up their recycling efforts. QCC's also has a new, very resourceful website.

The City College of New York and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding calling for increased cooperation between the College and EPA's Office of Solid Waste & Emergency Response (OSWER) and the region.  CCNY's food service operator, Metropolitan Food Service Inc, is working with agriculture organizations from Long Island and New Jersey to increase the purchase of locally grown seasonal and organic produce.  CCNY now recycles waste cooking oil and works with a company that converts it into biodiesel. As an alternative to bottled water, CCNY has installed a purified drinking water filtration system. CCNY has a CCNYGreen website.

York College has created a community garden for both community residents and for use in the college cafeteria, who has increased their recycling and is exploring composting. York is also planting trees and plants on their campus as part of the Million Trees NYC initiative. York recently hosted Dr. Balgis Osman-Elasha (Senior Researcher at the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources in Sudan), who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore and spoke on the importance of sustainability to York students and the community. York is also participating in the 22 mile Tour de Queens, an event that promotes bicycling and also now reserves prime parking spots for hybrids on campus. York now turns off their parking lot lights from midnight to 5 am and is working with Continuing and Adult Education to  develop courses for students, employees and the community around sustainability. Noted environmentalist Majora Carter will be their commencement speaker this year. York has a  Green Initiatives Website
In This Issue
Earth Hour
Meeting Sustainably
Outside the Barrel
Sustainable Students
Campus Sustainability in Action
CUNY Contest on YouTube
Interns Needed
CUNY Sustainability Task Force
CUNY Spreads Sustainability on YouTube

Darryl Thurston, a student at Kingsborough Community College, won a $500 cash first prize in the CUNY Sustainable Shorts video contest on YouTube.

Keep My Earth Clean

Thurston, a father with a 4.0 GPA, delivered a very sustainable message titled "Keep My Earth Clean' through the eyes of his daughter Olivia.

All CUNY students, staff and faculty members were invited to submit short videos on the theme 'Going Green'. YouTube has become one of the most popular media outlets in the world and an ideal venue for reaching a broad demographic.

23 outstanding submissions using a multitude of approaches ranging from science to musical skits to helpful tips have received nearly 10,000 thousand views to-date as they all strove to spread the word on ways to 'Go Green'. The top five videos played at the Kingsborough Eco-Festival and at LaGuardia Community College's Earth Day event. The winner, announced on Earth day, was selected by students and Sustainable CUNY leaders, based on both content and public viewership numbers.

Rounding out the Top Five were: 

Baruch A Greener World
2. "A Greener World"
by Baruch's ECO

Oh What a Site at CSI
 3. "Oh What a Site at CSI"
 by CSI Green Techs

Green CUNY Singalong
 4."Green CUNY Singalong!"    by M. Forsten (City Tech) & B.Mitchell (Grad Center)

Greeny Earth 

5."Greeny Earth"
by Dong Arm Kim at LAGCC

See all of the CUNY Sustainable Shorts Video Submissions

NYC's 311 adds GET@CUNY

The Green Energy Training at CUNY Programs are now part of 311, New York City's online web site and phone number for government information and non-emergency services.

Interested parties who are searching for training information related to energy efficiency or renewable energy are directed to the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE).

Through CSE, GET@CUNY is training New York City's 'Green Collar' workers. The Bronx Community College campus is home to NYC's first hands on Clean Energy Training lab.

GET@CUNY training locations include:

-Bronx Community College

-Borough of Manhattan Community College

-Kingsborough Community College

-LaGuardia Community College

-Medgar Evers College

-New York City College of Technology

Courses include:

Science of Sustainable Building

Building Performance Institute Training

Building Analyst Training


Building Envelope Training




Solar Thermal




RET Screen

Information can be found at

Sustainable CUNY
Interns Needed

Sustainable CUNY, a  program to lower CUNY's carbon footprint and integrate sustainability into the life of the University, is recruiting interns to work on a range of projects during the summer and fall of 2009.

The work will involve looking at current behaviors at CUNY in areas such as recycling, procurement, water and energy use and identifying best practice opportunities, developing tracking & measurement systems and pilot programs, sourcing and analyzing data to improve productivity and surveying current 'green' products and technologies.

Additional work may involve developing websites, social networking sites and communication strategies.

-Strong Communication skills
-Strong computer skills -Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Wiki, website architecture software
-Process analysis skills and the ability to work on a variety of projects
-Knowledge and interest in issues relating to Sustainability
-Good academic standing

Please submit resumes to:
Kitty Preston
CUNY Sustainability Project Task Force

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
University Director of Sustainability,
Executive Director
Center for Sustainable Energy Bronx Community College
Project Manager
Neil Richardson
Communication Director
Laurie Reilly 
Center for Sustainable Energy Bronx Community College
Sustainable CUNY
535 East 80th Street 3rd Floor, Room 305
NY, NY 10075