History and Archives
The Sustainability Task Force was established in October 2006, when NYU Executive Vice President Michael Alfano launched a university-wide sustainability initiative.
At that time, NYU also established a $250,000 annual Sustainability Fund, announced plans for renovation of its cogeneration power plant facility, hired full-time sustainability staff, created the Environmental Studies and Bioethics programs, and made the largest purchase of renewable energy by any US university.
The Sustainability Task Force was initially charged with conducting a comprehensive assessment of current practices; recommending a prioritized plan to improve NYU's eco-footprint; engaging faculty, students and administrators in sustainability efforts; and developing a method to award funds for green research and demonstration programs.
Over the next three years, the Task Force and its Working Groups implemented projects and developed additional recommendations to fulfill a set of specific charges. This year, the Task Force is continuing to guide progress on earlier recommendations, while confronting the more complex challenges that face a maturing green initiative.
In 2007 and 2008 the Task Force released Annual Reports, which included comprehensive summaries of progress and major green initiatives, as well as sets of recommendations for improving environmental performance and developing a campus culture of sustainability. These recommendations encompassed a wide range of operational areas and issues and were submitted to the university leadership.
In 2007, the university leadership announced five major initiatives to address many of the goals laid out in the first set of recommendations. These were the Sustainability Advocate Program; the Environmental Purchasing Policy, the Environmental Assessment, an Energy Reduction Strategy, and a set of projects focused on student outreach. In 2008, these projects and many others developed, becoming part of the everyday fabric of the university.
By 2009, NYU had successfully implemented dozens of Task Force recommendations in areas ranging from landscaping, water use, energy conservation, and recycling; to student services, academic partnerships, and public outreach and engagement. NYU began composting dining hall waste; sponsored more than thirty community-led “Green Grants,” and hosted multiple events that directly engaged thousands of community members.
Many other key university sustainability decisions (signing on to substantial greenhouse gas reduction commitments, organizing large events, etc.) have been made with the advice and ratification of the Task Force.