Sustainable CUNY                          Sustainable Times Newsletter  Summer 2010
SCUNY TransparentAs this nation's largest urban university, the City University of New York plays a transformational role in New York City's sustainable future with an educational footprint that spans 23 academic institutions and over half a million students, faculty and staff. Sustainable CUNY is leading CUNY's efforts through three key pillars: the CUNY Sustainability Project, city-wide Sustainable Energy projects and SustainableWorks NYC, CUNY's sustainable business and technology incubator and accelerator.
CUNY Campus map
CUNY Sustainability Project

The CUNY Sustainability Project was established in 2007 in response to PlaNYC's 'University Challenge' to reduce CUNY's carbon footprint 30% by 2017.

Project News

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Sustainable Energy

The City University of New York (CUNY) is intricately tied to NYC and clean energy solutions. In June 2007, CUNY was named the lead of the U.S. Department of Energy's New York City Solar America City  Partnership.

Manhattan trimmed square
SustainableWorks NYC

Sustainable CUNY has established the NYC Sustainable Business Leaders Advisory Board and SustainableWorks NYC, a  high profile Incubator & Accelerator Program with two unique facilities.

Energynews CUNY Sustainable Energy News

NYC Solar Empowerment Zones Announced

CUNY Creating Largest Solar Map in the World

CUNY Chosen to Compete at Solar Decathlon

solarempowermentSolar Empowerment Zones Announced at NYC Solar Summit 2010

NYC Solar Empowerment Zones
zone map
Making the transition to cleaner energy, such as solar, just got a little easier in New York City with the creation of three 'Solar Empowerment Zones'. The initial Zones - 'Staten Island East', 'Downtown Brooklyn' and 'Greenpoint-Gateway' - were announcement at last month's New York City Solar Summit. Resources offered in the Zones will include a data monitoring system, technical assistance as well as assistance with maneuvering through incentives, streamlining the permitting process and educational outreach to the community. Zone Details

Building NYC's 'Solar Pipeline' with a Smart Solar City Plan

"In PlaNYC, the City's long-term blueprint for a greener, greater New York, we set ambitious targets for upgrading the City's aging energy infrastructure so we can stay competitive with other cities around the world," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We also want to increase the use of renewable energy sources, including solar power. We've cut through the red tape that used to bog down solar projects, and there is now 3.5 megawatts of solar power installed on City rooftops, a number we want to increase significantly."

Tria Case, University Director of Sustainability at CUNY, was the Chairwoman of the NYC Solar Summit. "As environmental concerns stemming from the Gulf Coast overwhelm our Nation, never has it been clearer that the United States must transition to clean energy sources," said Case. "Through the NYC Smart Solar City project, we are building the 'Solar Pipeline', which includes a Solar Map and Solar Empowerment Zones that will help us make significant advances to integrating solar into this nation's largest city and most complex grid."

The City University of New York, through Sustainable CUNY, annually convenes the New York City Solar Summit. view presentations  During the day long event, held at John Jay College in Manhattan, the NYC Smart Solar City plan was rolled out along with preview screenshots of a NYC 'Solar Map'. (See article below.) The Summit also presented details on the NYC Smart Grid, solar policies and incentives and the latest in supporting technologies and battery storage. Speakers that included Congressman Maurice Hinchey, NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri and Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick addressed the audience of over 500 NYC solar stakeholders.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey
Congressman Hinchey at summit
"Throughout our nation's history, New York City has always been the city that all other American cities look up to. Now, with the help of Sustainable CUNY and many other strong partners, New York City will serve as a model for innovative ways to utilize solar energy," Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) said. "If there's one thing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has shown us, it's that our country's dependence on dirty fossil fuels is unsustainable. The swift transition to clean energy is not only inevitable; it is essential and vitally important to maintaining America's role as a leader in the global economy. With smart policies and sustained investments, we can go from importing oil from Saudi Arabia to installing solar panels from New York's Hudson Valley. This must happen and I'm confident that it will."

"As part of the initiatives released by Mayor Bloomberg to grow the City's green economy, establishing these solar zones will help facilitate solar installations and target them where it makes most sense," said New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky. "This will provide not only environmental benefits, but also help create green jobs in the New York City solar industry."

"Con Edison is excited to be part of the collaboration with Sustainable CUNY and the Solar America Cities team that has produced these new and innovative initiatives," said John Mucci, VP of Manhattan Electric Operations, Con Edison. "We continue to encourage our customers to use renewable energy resources and become our smart energy-efficient partners."
solarmapSustainable CUNY Creating Largest LiDAR Solar Map in the World

Solar Map Empire 1In April, Sustainable CUNY and New York City contracted with the Sanborn Map Company to fly planes over the city's 362 square miles to obtain images of the city's built environment. Using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, the morphology of each building in New York City was captured, from which a detailed interactive solar map of the city's built environment will be created. The map, the largest of its kind anywhere, is intended to help identify the full potential for solar in NYC, as well as assist the public to evaluate the benefits of installing solar on a particular property.

With 8-12 points per square meter, the LIDAR data is detailed enough to get slant angles, building footprint and information about any features that are on the rooftops.  This will enable the calculation of usable roof top area for placement of solar panels.  Using the LiDAR data and the resulting detail of the City's buildings, CUNY's Center for Advanced Research of Spatial Information (CARSI), at Hunter College, will develop the Solar Map in partnership with CUNY, EDC, the Mayor's Office, and Con Edison.  The map will allow anyone to type in an address or zoom in on a building and obtain an estimate of its solar energy potential.  The map will also provide a financial calculator and detailed steps on how to install photovoltaics (PV).  The goal of the map is to provide the public with an interactive tool to learn about solar on any roof, as well as to provide Con Edison with a tool to incorporate solar potential into its energy planning.  The map is expected to launch in the Fall of 2010 on the New York City Solar America City website. Images are screenshot samples of LiDAR data images collected by Sanborn Map Company.

  Solar Map Madison Solar Map WTC 2 Solar Map brooklyn bridge

decathlonteamCUNY Team to Compete in Solar Decathlon 2011

CCNY Solar Decathlon Team, University Director of Sustainability Tria Case & Congressman Maurice Hinchey  at NYC Solar Summit
Decathlon Team-Hinchey
The U.S. Department of Energy chose a CUNY team from the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture and the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York (CCNY) as one of 20 finalists in the Solar Decathlon 2011 competition. The CCNY students will compete against colleges and universities from the United States, Belgium, Canada, China and New Zealand to design, build and operate the most affordable, attractive, effective and energy-efficient solar-powered house. More than 100 CCNY students are expected to work on the project between now and fall 2011, when the completed structure will be put on public display on the National Mall in Washington and compete in 10 categories. Sustainable CUNY is assisting with corporate sponsorships for the CUNY project.

The 1,000 square foot CCNY prototype, called a Solar Roof Pod, is designed with existing urban structures in mind. It will take advantage of the rooftops of buildings in New York and other large cities, which are generally underutilized, but can provide beneficial access to solar radiation, wind, water and roof-top greenery. As an add-on to these rooftops, the Roof Pod would enable urban dwellers to experience what it is like to live more sustainably. The modular, contemporary design solution uses lightweight, highly efficient and sustainable materials. A "building-block" assembly will enable each pod to be transported to a building's roof via staircase or elevator.

The project consists of three phases. A design phase, which includes preliminary construction, will run through the fall 2010 semester. The actual structure will be built on the CCNY campus during the spring 2011 semester and be open to the public at City College. Early during the fall 2011 semester, the completed structure will be taken apart and shipped to the National Mall in Washington, where it will be reconstructed to compete against buildings produced by the other participating teams. Last year, more than 300,000 people visited the competition during the 10-day public viewing period.

CUNYProjectIndex CUNY Sustainability Project News

CUNY Submits Energy Plan to Mayor

CUNY Sustainability Efforts Highlighted in Report to Governor

New Energy 'Dashboard' for CUNY Facilities
CUNY Among Top on EPA Green Power Purchasing List

CUNY Featured in Princeton Review's Green College Guide

Hunter Students Vote Puts $ into Green

CUNY Commuting Survey Reveals Mixed Travel Picture

Waste Not: CUNY Recycling Audit is Revealing

NYC Cool Roofs launched at LaGuardia Community College

CUNY College's Sustainability Websites

MayoralChallengeCUNY Submits Mayoral Challenge Energy Plan

CUNY presented its action plan to reduce the university's emissions 30% by 2017 to the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning & Sustainability in April, bringing together the work of engineering consultants O'Brien & Gere and CDH Energy, the Department of Design, Construction & Management (DDCM) and the Sustainable CUNY team. The plan, which focuses primarily on ways to reduce energy use in CUNY's campus buildings and other facilities, outlines the key areas where energy efficiency and other similar measures will have the greatest impact on emissions and energy savings.

The main energy savings are to be found in CUNY's existing buildings, through a combination of lighting, HVAC and central plant upgrades as well as through the retro-commissioning of certain buildings, the further use of automated controls and improved operations and maintenance practices at each CUNY campus. CUNY's green power purchases and the adoption of LEED Silver standards for all future new construction projects will also push down the university's emissions, which under PlaNYC are being measured as a factor of gross square feet.

Building on the findings from the six campus energy audits already completed by engineering consultants O'Brien & Gere and CDH Energy, the plan also highlights the need for CUNY to install additional meters and sub-meters to provide greater detail of energy usage around the university and calls on the city to support the plan through financial and other means.

CUNY's Energy Plan stands alongside the individual 10-year sustainability plans prepared by each of the university's 19 campuses. All 19 campuses have submitted at least a preliminary draft of their 10-year plan, with 16 of these campuses having completed their full final draft. The campus plans are currently under review by members of the CUNY Sustainability Task Force.
eo4CUNY Sustainability Efforts Highlighted in Report to Governor

Greening NY STateThe first annual report summarizing the response by state agencies to New York Governor Paterson's Executive Order #4 (EO4) has highlighted CUNY as a noteworthy example of an institution that has developed a comprehensive sustainability program to minimize its impact on the environment. EO4, passed in 2008, directs all state agencies to reduce waste, green their procurement and implement measures to make their operations more sustainable. Full Report

The report, prepared by New York State's Office of General Services and Department of Environmental Conservation, singled out CUNY as one of only five of the 69 reporting agencies to be active in all five of the focus areas of EO4: reduction, reuse, recycling and composting of solid waste; reduction or elimination of the use and generation of toxic substances; enhanced energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources; conservation of water and other natural resources; and maximization of the use of green products, services, and technology. CUNY's efforts to improve energy efficiency across its 23 academic institutions on 19 campuses and to introduce sustainability into the curriculum at all levels of learning were also highlighted in the report.

CUNYwind CUNY Among Top on EPA Green Power Purchasing List

wind farmCUNY purchased more electricity generated from clean, renewable sources than ever before during the 2008-09 financial year, with sourced green power up 2,000,000 kWh to 34,704,000 kWh, a 6 percent increase over the previous year. This brings the overall proportion of clean, green power in CUNY's energy mix to 8.3 percent, putting CUNY in 12th place on the Environmental Protection Agency's list of top green power purchasers in the higher education sector. Of the power purchased from renewable sources, 53% was generated by wind power, with the remaining 47% generated from a variety of bio-mass sources. CUNY will continue to work with the New York Power Authority to increase its share of renewable power in the coming years.
EnergydashboardEnergy 'Dashboard' for CUNY Facilities

As part of the CUNY Sustainability Project's ongoing efforts to reduce energy consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions in line with the PlaNYC target of 30% lower emissions by 2017, the Department of Design, Construction & Management (DDCM) has begun the roll-out of a new tool which will allow for more detailed real-time monitoring of energy use in CUNY buildings.

The tool, called the Energy Management System (EMS), collects data from utility meters at university facilities and integrates this information via wireless, web-based software to form a detailed profile of energy consumption and usage trends. The data the EMS collects will allow both campus and DDCM staff to monitor energy use with more precision and assist in planning decisions regarding both space and equipment upgrades.

Successfully piloted by DDCM at a handful of CUNY campuses in 2008-09, the EMS is also able to generate reports and create a 'dashboard' display of current and recent usage patterns. This information can be made available - via the internet - to students and faculty, as well as key campus and university facilities staff. The setup and installation of the EMS will take place during the second half of 2010.
cunyprinceton Three CUNY Colleges Featured in Princeton Review's Green College Guide

Princeton Review's Green GuideThree of CUNY's senior colleges, Brooklyn College, City College and Hunter College, are featured in the first ever edition of the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges, published in April 2010. The guide, which does not rank the featured colleges in any way, profiles 286 of the country's 'greenest' four-year colleges and universities.

The guide was produced in response to a growing demand for information on colleges that 'practice, teach and support' environmentally friendly choices. A recent survey conducted by The Princeton Review found that 64% of college applicants (and their parents) would be influenced in their choice of college by information on an institution's commitment to the environment and sustainability. Published in partnership with the US Green Building Council, the colleges which made it into the first edition of the guide were considered to have shown an 'exceptional commitment to environmental sustainability both in the classroom and around the campus.' The guide applied three basic criteria in selecting which colleges to include in the survey - an institution's commitment to lower greenhouse gas emissions, curriculum and research opportunities which provide pathways to future 'green' jobs and evidence of a 'green and healthy' campus life, including environmentally-friendly dining services, well-maintained green spaces and alternative transportation options.

Much of the data on the three CUNY colleges in the guide is already out-of-date - an indication of the progress these and other CUNY institutions have made since the initial application process, which took place in 2009. The Princeton Review invited all of CUNY's senior colleges to apply to be featured in the guide. Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges.
HunterStudentsHunter Students Establish Green Initiative Fund
Students of Hunter College are raising the bar for environmentalism on campus. During student government elections in April, an overwhelming majority of students (93.8%) voted in favor of reallocating unused funds from the Student Activity Fee to establish The Green Initiative Fund at Hunter College. The fund, based on the University of California's successful model, will provide approximately $43,000 annually to support innovative environmental projects proposed by members of the Hunter community. A committee, with a student majority, will review proposals and award grants to projects that promise to reduce Hunter College's negative environmental impact, create environmental education opportunities, and/or empower students to implement solutions to environmental problems.
        Hunter Green Fund Committee

Student suggestions for projects that the fund could support  include energy efficiency, advanced metering, an educational rooftop garden and environmental advocacy training. Hunter Solar Project, the student organization leading the initiative, is in the process of drafting bylaws for The Green Initiative Fund and working with partners to develop a plan to administer the fund. Hunter students hope to share the model with students at other CUNY campuses, as a mechanism to empower students to actively participate in the transition to a more sustainable CUNY.

commutesurvey CUNY Commuting Survey Reveals Mixed Travel Picture

A recent survey of commuting behavior across the entire university has confirmed a number of long-held assumptions about the travel patterns of CUNY's citizenry. Over 55% of CUNY's students, faculty and staff travel less than 10 miles to get to the CUNY facility at which they most commonly work or study, irrespective of the mode of transport used.

Transportation pie
The survey also revealed that while the subway is the most commonly used mode of transport at 37%, the second largest single mode of transport used is the car, with 22% of respondents saying this is how they usually commute to CUNY. In total, over 68% of respondents said they used some form of public transportation, including the subway, the bus, the train, the ferry or a combination of these. The survey also found that some 4% of respondents walk to CUNY and a further 2% cycle.

Among the more surprising findings from the survey is that people in younger age groups generally expressed greater dissatisfaction with their commute, particularly those using mass transit. When asked what single factor would most improve their commutes, the greatest number of respondents (25%) said more frequent subway services, with a further 19% saying that a shuttle bus service from the subway to their primary campus would best improve their commute.
Transportation satisfaction
Over 17,000 students, faculty and staff from the CUNY community - some 6% - responded to the online survey, which was launched in late 2009. A full report of the findings will be published soon.
WastenotWaste Not
Waste Audits Reveal Recycling Potential at CUNY Colleges

Baruch Students Get Down and Dirty
Baruch Students Get Down and Dirty
Volunteer students and staff from two CUNY colleges, Baruch College and the CUNY Law School, spent the day sifting through 24-hours worth of garbage earlier this semester, with a view to profiling the way in which people at their respective schools currently dispose of their waste. The waste audits, conducted independently, helped the two colleges gauge the success of their existing recycling programs and identify opportunities to increase the amount of everyday waste that is diverted away from landfills.
Decked out in protective clothing, the volunteers measured and categorized the different types of waste found in both the regular and recycling bins from around their campus. Amongst the findings, the Law School discovered that while 63% of the 941 pounds of waste from the sample day could have been recycled, little over half of recyclables were correctly placed in a recycling receptacle to ensure it was diverted from landfills. Similarly, approximately 8% of items found in recycling containers were not recyclable. Using methodology developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Law School estimated that, projected over one year, the emission of 115 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) could have been avoided if all recyclable materials were captured. This is the equivalent to taking 21 vehicles off the road or conserving 13,000 gallons of gasoline.

CUNY Law Paper Cup Garden
CUNY Law Paper Cup Garden
The Law School and its Green Coalition student group have begun to include recycling education during new staff and student orientation in order to increase awareness and ensure the success of their recycling program. With 16% of its waste made up of foodstuffs, the college has also made it easier to compost food waste by placing a small number of composting machines around the college. To demonstrate the amount of avoidable waste, a sculpture made of the 451 paper coffee cups used in one day was created by Carmen Rana, Administrative Services Coordinator at the Law School who is also studying art at Queens College.
Baruch engaged sustainability training consultants YRG to guide and assist with their waste audit. Over 3,300lbs of waste were examined at the college's Vertical Campus with the help of 65 volunteer students and 25 faculty and staff. The report on the findings of the audit is being finalized. To see a short video clip of the day, click here. Conducting a waste audit can illustrate the untapped potential for recycling as well as indicate the level of education needed amongst the college community to ensure an effective recycling program.
CoolroofsCool Roofs
NYC Cool Roofs Program Kicks Off at LaGuardia Community College

Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri with LaGuardia student and staff volunteers
Cool Roof Commissioner
LaGuardia Community College hosted the official launch of the NYC Cool Roofs Program in May with volunteer students and staff joined by College President Dr. Gail O. Mellow, Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri, Con Edison's Vice President of Facilities Saddie L. Smith and other senior NYC officials.

The Cool Roofs Program is just one part of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city 30% by 2030. The volunteers got to work coating the 46,000 square feet of college roof space with reflective white paint in a bid to reduce building cooling costs, which in turn will lower energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The program has identified a total of 1 million square feet of roof space city-wide that can be coated in this way - some 240,000 square feet will be painted this year. Cool roofs typically absorb 80% less heat than traditional dark colored roofs by reflecting rather than absorbing the sun's rays. In addition to reducing indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees, cool roofs can also lower roof temperatures by up to 60 degrees, in turn reducing the overall air temperature of the city - a phenomena known as the heat island effect.

Cool roof in actionA pilot of the Cool Roofs program was launched by Mayor Bloomberg and former Vice President Al Gore back in September 2009. In partnership with volunteers from NYC Service, approximately 100,000 square feet of rooftop space in Queens was coated with reflective white paint. Full story

Sustainable CUNY

Campus Sustainability Websites

Baruch College

Bronx Community College, Center for Sustainable Energy

City College of New York

College of Staten Island

Hunter College

John Jay College

LaGuardia Community College

Queens College

Queensborough Community College

York College

Sworksindex CUNY SustainableWorks NYC News

CUNY SustainableWorks NYC Receives 1.7 Million

SworksProgram Funds to Help Bring Innovations to Market, Design Clean Tech Center

The CUNY SustainableWorks Investment fund has received initial capitalization of one million dollars from the FJC foundation to help commercialize clean and renewable energy technology that has reached the proof of concept stage. The fund is part of SustainableWorks NYC, a high profile Incubator & Accelerator Program, Collaboration Center and planned Clean Technology Center established by Sustainable CUNY to help accelerate clean and renewable energy technologies, services, and innovations into New York City. Applications are being accepted.

SustainableWorks Clean Technology Center, Bronx
SustainableWorks Collaboration Center, Manhattan
Sworks locator map
In addition, FJC has granted $700,000 to begin the design phase of the SustainableWorks NYC Clean Technology Center, to be located on the Bronx Community College Campus. The new facility is expected to be approximately 40,000 square feet, of which roughly half will be flexible workspace to allow technology developers to prototype, test, and showcase technology.  A large open area will be reserved for bench testing and small open assembly, to support tech commercialization. The facility will be designed and built as an 'intelligent' building capable of demonstrating the use of best practices and state-of-the-art technologies.  The design phase will help finalize the additional private funds that may be needed for construction, 15 million dollars has already been allocated from State & City funds for the facility. The Incubator & Accelerator Program activities are designed to play a key role in providing a pathway into the marketplace for CUNY researchers, partners and clients across the city and around the state for new clean energy technology and services.

SustainableWorks NYC is already acting as a facilitator, utilizing a Collaboration Center located at 75 Park Place, Borough of Manhattan Community College and interim office space at Bronx Community College while the Clean Technology Center is being designed and built. SustainableWorks NYC is administered as a program of the CUNY Economic Development Corporation. More information can be found at SustainableWorks NYC.

Sustainable CUNY

Co chairs Task force Tria Case
University Director of Sustainability

Neil Richardson

Project Manager

Alison Kling
NYC Solar Coordinator

Laurie Reilly

Kitty Preston
Environmental and Productivity Liaison

Amy Flannery
Sustainability and Productivity Associate

Tracy Handler
External Training, Intern Outreach

Noah Ginsberg
Sustainability Associate