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New York University

NYU's Climate Commitments

Meeting the Mayoral Challenge: Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 30%

In June 2007, when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released PlaNYC - a sustainability plan for the city - he called on New York City colleges and universities to help in the effort. NYU agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per square foot by 30% from fiscal year (FY) 2006 levels by FY 2017, and 13 other colleges and universities in New York City followed suit. This goal offered NYU a framework to reduce emissions immediately. The goal’s “per-square-foot” qualifier ensures compatibility with the city’s interest in reducing energy use and emissions from buildings.

The University's efforts to reduce energy use and improve building efficiency yielded even more fruit than expected, and NYU achieved the 30% reduction goal six years early, in FY 2011, with the completion of the new cogeneration power plant.

ACUPCC: Setting a Climate Neutral Target of 2040

In 2007, NYU became a Charter signatory and Leadership Circle member of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), now boasting 675 other signatories. In doing so, the University agreed to create a Climate Action Plan and set a target date for reaching carbon neutrality.

The Climate Action Plan (PDF), released in March 2010, outlines four major strategies designed to achieve carbon neutrality by the target date of 2040:

  1. Reduce Energy Intensity (50 percent of NYU's climate neutrality goal): NYU will reduce the amount of energy used in buildings through conservation, "green" construction and renovation, retrofits and upgrades, and operational innovations to run buildings more effectively. Initial efforts have already resulted in 20% emissions cuts.
  2. Generate and Use Cleaner Energy (30 percent): NYU will generate cleaner energy on-site with a new cogeneration power plant, which will mitigate 23 percent of NYU's baseline FY 2006 emissions. NYU will also minimize the use of fuel oil to heat buildings, replacing it with cleaner, more efficient energy sources.
  3. Generate Renewable Energy (10 percent): NYU is exploring options to develop on-site distributed renewable energy generation projects on its buildings, including wind and solar technologies.
  4. Reduce/Offset Remaining Emissions (10 percent): Given the constraints of a dense urban environment, it is likely that NYU will purchase high-quality, credible offsets to accomplish long-term climate goals.

NYU is committed to achieving the greatest and most rapid reductions possible in greenhouse gas emissions, whenever this can be accomplished in a way that is technologically feasible, fiscally sound, and consistent with the University’s vital teaching, learning, and research missions.

(Source: Climate Action Plan)