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History of Sustainability at NYU

Sustainability is rapidly altering the face of NYU. Though our current effort is a very young one relative to the green initiatives of many other major US universities, we've been proud to quickly get up to speed, drawing upon the successful models that already exist and then “leapfrogging” beyond what was once thought possible.

Nonetheless, the NYU Sustainability Initiative has its roots in a variety of student, faculty and staff efforts that significantly predate it.

In 1990, Village Green Recycling Center coordinator Carl Hultberg began to develop what would become NYU’s Recycling Program, one of the first formal institutional recycling programs in New York City. Carl’s efforts led to NYU recycling rates doubling several times over throughout the decade, and the program was an administrative incubator for many related green ideas on campus.

Today, the Recycling Program operates in coordination with our other sustainability efforts, and achieves a diversion rate higher than 30%.

Faculty, too, have been intimately involved in environmental work at NYU, with some calling for the creation of an Environmental Studies Program and Center for the Environment as early as 1995. Emeritus Faculty such as Martin Hoffert have been engaged in cutting-edge climate change and environmental research for decades.

NYU students also have a long tradition of environmental activism. The Earth Matters! undergraduate environmental club was founded in the late 1980s, and has been a home of green-themed events and local and national advocacy ever since.

In 2005, the student-led Green Arch Initiative was launched to develop a university-wide dialogue about “sustainability in our own backyard,” with the ultimate goal of helping NYU become “a global leader in urban environmental scholarship and practice.” Green Arch grew into a coalition of students, faculty and staff which ultimately was instrumental in the launch of the Sustainability Task Force and the current initiative.

To learn more, read about the recent history of the Sustainability Task Force.