To expand on NYU’s long history of sustainability, including 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in just five years and a 2040 carbon neutrality goal, in September 2018, a Sustainability Working Group of over 50 students, faculty, and administrators from across NYU’s global network came together to determine meaningful and achievable new sustainability initiatives that NYU could implement in the short term.

The list below summarizes the outcomes and status of the these short-term initiatives, over 90% of which are complete or in progress. This also includes additonal actions that were implemented as a result of the Working Group's suggestions for further exploration.


Many members of the NYU community have voiced concern for NYU’s disposal of single-use plastics and other needless waste. To target the highest impact areas, NYU:

  • Ceased spending University money on single-use water bottles on the NYC campus, reducing waste by over 330,000 plastic water bottles per year . See the Water Bottle Purchasing Policy, effective as of January 2020.
  • Will provide only reusable and compostable dishware for events in the Kimmel Center, at no extra change.
  • Created and implemented Green Events Standard.
  • Made cost-effective eco-friendly options the default for the most commonly purchased office supplies.
  • Incorporated sustainability into the Chartwells dining and catering services contract that began in 2019.
  • Reduced or eliminated internal paper mailings to employees, except where required by law.
  • Begun developing the initital elements of a zero waste plan in key areas, such as dining and catering.
  • Streamlined single-use coffee pod recycling programs for Keurig and Flavia users, at no extra cost.


To unite sustainability education and outreach for students, faculty, administrators, and staff, NYU has:

  • Infused information on sustainability initiatives and practices into Welcome Programs for first-year students and through communications and outreach to prospective undergraduate students.
  • Included sustainability topics in orientations for new faculty and administrators.
  • Incorporated sustainability classes and topics into staff professional development through iLearn, the Green Zone training, and in partnership with the AMC.
  • Implemented a Communications Strategic Plan to better engage key audiences.
  • Began giving annual sustainability awards from the Office of Sustainability.
  • Included sustainability requirements and recommendations in the annual financial planning memo for school and unit leaders.


To further our leadership and address our impact in more operational areas and across the global network, NYU has:

  • Surveyed the NYC community on commuting patterns. See the 2019 Transportation Survey Results and Findings.
  • Expanded bike parking and resources to aid the NYU biking community.
  • Instituted IT Sustainability Guidelines and resources to reduce tech-related waste and energy, which include:
    • Procuring greener, EPEAT registered electronics;
    • Transitioning desk phones to energy-saving soft-phones; and
    • Examining ways to turn off equipment in empty offices.
  • Begun looking into water reduction strategies.
  • Drafted a statement formalizing the range of acceptable indoor temperatures in buildings.
  • Examined and is moving forward in greening labs.
  • Started and will continue to include all campuses in carbon accounting wherever possible.
  • Started and will continue to account for emissions from waste and travel where data is available.
  • Started and will continue to analyze the potential for electric vehicles whenever a vehicle is purchased or leased.
  • Included sustainability and climate risks in NYU's emergency preparedness plans.
  • Instituted procedures that may reduce NYU-sponsored flying, especially within the Northeast Corridor, in the NYU Business Expense Policy.


NYU has a rich selection of sustainability-related programs, courses, and research. To better facilitate cross-curricular collaboration, NYU:

  • Launched a Provostial Climate Change Initiative to foster interdisciplinary research, innovative teaching, collaborative partnerships with government and industry, and academic and professional opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Convened faculty and administrators to discuss and consider ways to build positive connections with environmental justice.
  • Collated and published information about sustainability courses and programs.

The following initiatives were proposed for further study:

  • Encourage stairwell use.
  • Provide feedback to students on energy use.
  • Reduce air quality impacts from food trucks.