New York University’s Sustainability Task Force recently released its Annual Report, highlighting major successes for 2007-08 and submitting to the administration new recommendations to improve campus environmental performance and to further advance NYU along the path toward sustainability.
The full report and recommendations are available online at www.nyu.edu/sustainability/pdf/annualreport08.pdf
Recent projects include: implementing a new Energy Strategy that substantially reduced electricity consumption; doubling the university’s recycling diversion rate with new composting and sorting initiatives; launching a Sustainability Advocate Program that has trained staff in 70 departments to “green” their work areas; renewing the wind power purchase to offset 100% of NYU’s purchased electricity consumption; and holding an energy conservation competition, NYUnplugged, that involved thousands of students.
Beyond these initiatives, the report notes the blossoming of independent “green” projects from every sector of the administration and many of NYU’s schools. It also describes progress made in implementing the previous 2006-07 Sustainability Task Force recommendations: among other projects, NYU increased supplies of local and organic food in dining halls; supported the interdisciplinary “Educating for Sustainability” lecture series; and began organic management of many of its largest landscaped open spaces .
“NYU has taken impressive strides toward sustainability since 2006. But much remains to be done. The work of the Task Force - which brings together all segments of the NYU community - is critical to these efforts and this report lays out a detailed set of recommendations to move us forward. Volunteers all, the members of the Task Force deserve our gratitude for their hard work and commitment to this central challenge of our time,” said Lynne Brown, Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs and co-chair of the Sustainability Task Force.
Key priorities underscored by the report include: advancing NYU’s leadership in energy and green building, developing the university’s capacity to engage in ongoing environmental self-assessment, and launching a conversation about the NYU Center for the Environment, a potential hub of collaboration for both academic and non-academic “green” initiatives and a home for research and teaching resources that foster an intellectual environmental agenda.
Important challenges for the university’s sustainability initiative are also cited. As NYU becomes the first global network university, the need to minimize adverse environmental impacts and achieve high performance is important not just in New York, but in Abu Dhabi, Florence, Ghana, and other sites as well. The report also cites a need for greater commitment to engaging the university community across academic and operational lines. And as environmental crises such as climate change become increasingly severe, it recommends expanding efforts to benchmark the effectiveness of various green initiatives and prioritize interventions accordingly.
Other specific recommendations for 2007-08 encompass transportation; waste reduction, reuse, and recycling; food, catering, and purchasing guidelines; and energy and water efficiency.
In June the Sustainability Task Force announced its “Green Grants” recipients, awarding $160,000 in grant monies to 23 projects, an increase of 40% over last year. The Green Grants annually fund student, faculty, and staff proposals to spark the imagination of the campus community and improve NYU’s environmental performance.
The first comprehensive NYU Environmental Assessment is scheduled for completion in September 2008, when the Sustainability Task Force reconvenes for the upcoming year, and it will include a wealth of data and analysis of NYU’s environmental impacts. This assessment will represent a key step toward developing a set of metrics for evaluating NYU’s future progress toward sustainability goals.