Green Grant Awards Provide Funding to Support Innovative Projects that Advance Sustainable Practices on Campus and Beyond

Tisch students Vanneeda Keowmang and Heather Vaxer will use their NYU Green Grant to create a template for carbon-neutral student film sets.

A plan for carbon-neutral film sets, a vertical farming class, and a sustainable menstruation initiative in Abu Dhabi are among the winning ideas that will receive NYU’s 2019 Green Grants. Green Grants are awarded each year by NYU’s Office of Sustainability to projects proposed by NYU students, faculty, and staff that could improve the University’s environmental performance, showcase best practices and technologies for sustainability, and foster environmental literacy. The grants, of up to $20,000, recognize impactful projects that are self-sustaining or have the potential to be implemented on campus.

“The proposals reflect the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit NYU’s community is known for,” said Cecil Scheib, assistant vice president for sustainability. “We were thrilled to see ideas that demonstrate a deep consideration of the value of sustainability, approached with creativity, originality, and rigor. We look forward to seeing these projects come to life.”

Since 2007, NYU has awarded more than 80 Green Grants to projects that enhance sustainability and contribute to NYU’s operations, engagement, research and design, or academic and curricular initiatives. Past winners included innovations such as Climojis, or climate-related emojis that raise awareness about climate change; a teen youth summit focused on environmental and civic understanding; and an air quality monitoring system for NYU Shanghai. This year’s winners include:

Taking Action: Sustainability in Tisch Film Productions

Project co-leaders: Vanneeda Keowmang, ’19 (BFA Kanbar, film) and Heather Vaxer, ’20 (BFA Kanbar, film), Tisch

Citing a need for sustainable practices in the approximately 300 films shot at NYU each semester, Keowmang and Vaxer will apply their Green Grant toward a carbon-neutral set. The plan would be implemented on a television pilot, Mary and the Mob, produced in the Advanced Television Production class at Tisch Film, and includes measures such as donating and composting leftover food; reusing equipment and making sustainable purchases; minimizing energy usage and implementing a carbon sequestration credit; and promoting carpooling and use of public transportation. They hope to set a standard for sustainability that can be used as a benchmark for future NYU film sets.

The Role of Attachment in Promoting Pro-Environmental Behavior

Project leader: Claudia Fernandes Nisa, postdoctoral associate, psychology, NYU Abu Dhabi

Nisa’s Green Grant project will examine whether attachment — a psychological theory proposing that feeling loved and protected in close relationships promotes a sense of caring and trust toward other human beings — also encourages caring towards non-human beings, namely nature and environmental sustainability. She will analyze how attachment influences people to preserve hypothetical natural resources, by testing (in lab and field settings) to what extent visual stimuli related to “Mother Nature” can reduce energy consumption and food waste.

Sustainable Menstruation initiative

Project leader: Lubnah Ansari, ’21, social research and public policy, NYUAD

Ansari will apply her Green Grant toward the Sustainable Menstruation initiative (SMI), a project she launched in 2017 at NYUAD through the Health Promotion Office in collaboration with the Ecoherence student interest group. SMI addresses non-biodegradable waste and physical health impacts from disposable menstrual hygiene products; and the taboo surrounding menstruation that serves as a barrier to raising awareness about sustainable alternatives. SMI seeks to educate the NYUAD community about eco-friendly solutions and lift the stigma.


Project co-leaders: Jasmine Soltani and Regina Cantu de Alba, research residents, Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), Tisch

Soltani and Cantu de Alba’s Green Grant will go towards developing workshops focused on the deconstruction, maintenance, repair, and repurposing of electronics. Combining hands-on activities, class work, and discussion, they aim to provide avenues for students to reuse materials and help people consider environmental implications and ways to address the negative effects of electronics manufacturing and supply chains, capitalist/trade incentives, and e-waste.

Multispecies Worldbuilding Lab

Project leader: Elaine Gan, assistant professor, experimental humanities and social engagement, GSAS

Professor Gan will use her Green Grant to develop a podcast series, the Multispecies Worldbuilding Lab, that aims to increase awareness of climate change. The series will bring together humanities scholars, artists, and natural and social scientists to describe their research about various species that are being impacted by climate change. The project aims to raise awareness and environmental literacy for a broad audience, and open up critical and
creative dialogues across generations.


We Are the New Farmers — Vertically Integrated Projects

Project leader: Omar Gowayed, Ph.D. candidate, materials chemistry, Tandon

Building on the success of its 2018 Green Grant, Gowayed’s project expands We Are the New Farmer’s existing aquaponic farming project — referring to a form of agriculture that combines raising aquatic animals in tanks with soilless plants — to teach vertical farming to students. The project will leverage the existing farming enclosure in Tandon’s MakerSpace that currently houses tilapia and four shelves of food. Students will pursue independent projects, taking responsibility for the farm, and engaging with the local farming community.

The Green Grants are part of NYU’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and making the University one of the nation’s greenest campuses. Since 2007, NYU has reduced its emissions by 30%. This annual reduction of 59,000 metric tons of carbon is the equivalent of planting all of Manhattan and all of Brooklyn in forest. NYU has pledged to achieve a 50% reduction by 2025 and carbon neutrality by 2040. In 2019, NYU will install its first rooftop photovoltaic project atop Bobst Library. Additional initiatives include the integration of sustainability into the campus dining and catering services contract, capital commitments to make NYU buildings more energy efficient.

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