NYU is committed to achieving ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Since 2007, NYU has set demanding reduction goals and continues to be a leader in the push for carbon neutrality.
In 2009, NYU released its first Climate Action Plan (PDF: 2MB). It detailed NYU’s New York City GHG emissions and established our first GHG reduction goals.
NYU’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction progress will increase resilience, lower maintenance and insurance costs, and make buildings quieter, healthier, and more comfortable for their occupants. NYU accounts for almost 0.3 percent of all New York City GHG emissions from buildings, our actions will have a measurable impact on helping New York City and New York State reach their climate targets.
Greenhouse Gas Goals
Reduce building emissions intensity by 30 percent by 2017 (achieved in 2012)
Reduce building emissions intensity by 50 percent by 2025
Achieve carbon neutrality by 2040
Emissions Reduction Strategies
Reductions in emissions intensity, below, have been calculated in accordance with the New York City Carbon Challenge and captures emissions associated with NYU's building energy consumption.
*The large decrease from 2019 to 2020 is due to a significant reduction in on-campus operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and may not be representative of future emissions.
NYU's Building Emissions Intensity
The x-axis shows years 2006 (the baseline) to 2020 in increments of one year. The y-axis shows NYU's building-related Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions in New York City. Emissions are reported in pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per square foot of building area and are calcluated using coefficients from the NYC Carbon Challenge.
- 2006 (baseline): 31.0 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2007: 27.3 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2008: 26.0 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2009: 26.3 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2010: 24.0 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2011: 23.0 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2012: 21.5 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2013: 22.6 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2014: 23.6 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2015: 22.6 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2016: 22.2 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2017: 23.8 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2018: 25.0 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2019: 24.2 lbs CO2e/ft2
- 2020: 17.2 lbs CO2e/ft2
A 50 Percent Reduction by 2025
This chart shows the reductions NYU has made from 2006 through 2019 and how NYU expects to achieve the remaining progress toward its 2025 reduction goal.
Achieving NYU's 50 by 2025 Goal
NYU expects to achieve the remaining progress toward its 2025 reduction goal through the following strategies illustrated by this chart:
4% Cogeneration Plant: Improving the efficiency of the cogeneration plant and expanding the number of buildings it serves.
4% Construction & Renovation: Prioritizing energy-efficient construction and renovation projects, which include highly efficient lighting, windows, HVAC systems, insulation, and air sealing.
4% Capital Replacement: Replacing building equipment at end of life with more efficient options.
3% Efficiency Projects: Targeted efficiency projects such as using algorithms to detect problems with building automation systems; installing smart thermostats in residential buildings; installing ENERGY STAR–certified equipment; and installing sensors and controls to automatically turn off equipment when not in use.
2% Behavior Change: Behavior-change initiatives such as turning off unused computers, reducing the number of computing devices, and adjusting hours of occupancy.
Carbon Neutrality by 2040
NYU continues to develop pathways toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. A full exploration is in progress, which will consider reducing on-site energy, electrifying remaining energy use, and producing renewable energy on-campus and procuring carbon-free electricity from the grid.
Climate Commitments and Reporting
Climate Leadership Initiative (formerly the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment): In 2007, NYU became a charter signatory, committing to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. NYU reports its emissions to Second Nature.
New York City Carbon Challenge: Also in 2007, NYU committed to achieving a 30% reduction in building-related emissions by 2017. After meeting that goal in 2012, NYU increased its target to a 50% reduction by 2025. This goal is tracked and reported to the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.
Cool Food Pledge: In 2020, NYU joined this commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food 25% by 2030. This goal is tracked and reported to the World Resources Institute.
Starting in 2025, NYU will report its building-related emissions to the City as a part of the Climate Mobilization Act’s Local Law 97, which establishes a GHG emissions cap for every building over 25,000 sq ft.
NYU’s Gross New York City Emissions
This chart captures direct emissions from NYU's buildings, cogeneration plant and vehicle fleet (Scope 1) as well as indirect emissions from energy purchased from the electricity grid (Scope 2).
Of NYU’s emissions are from energy use in buildings, with transportation accounting for the rest.
NYU’s gross emissions from electricity and fuel oil (both light and heavy) have decreased by 33 percent and 88 percent, respectively. NYU’s emissions from its vehicle and bus fleet also fell by 30 percent.
Description of Charts
MTCO2e definition: These charts measure carbon emissions in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). This unit accounts for the emissions of all greenhouse gases converted into equivalent amounts of carbon dioxide.
Chart 1 - 2006 vs. 2019 bar chart. The chart depicts two bars: representing the years 2006 and 2019. The y-axis shows metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions abbreviated MTCO2e.
2006 total emissions: 179,724 MTCO2e
2006 building emissions: 178,535 MTCO2e
2006 transportation emissions: 1,189 MTCO2e
2019 total emissions: 138,386 MTCO2e
2019 building emissions: 137,552 MTCO2e
2019 transportation emissions: 834 MTCO2e
Chart 2 - 2019 pie chart. The chart depicts 2019 building emissions by fuel measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions abbreviated MTCO2e.
Natural Gas: 90,170 MTCO2e or 65% of total
Electricity: 36,632 MTCO2e or 26% of total
Fuel Oil: 7,941 MTCO2e or 6% of total
District Steam: 2,809 MTCO2e or 2% of total
NYU continues to examine opportunities for renewable energy on campus and through procuring carbon-free electricity, where on-site generation is not possible.
The roof of Bobst Library is equipped with 304 SunPower SPR-X22-360 solar panels, which have the capacity (at full sun) to generate 110 kilowatts of electricity. Over the course of a year, they generate approximately the same amount of electricity used by the Seventh Street residence hall, or approximately 50 New York City homes. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels convert sunlight into power, with the electrical output dependent on the panels’ size and efficiency, and the amount of sunlight that the panels receive.
Cogeneration power takes pressure off the city’s strained electrical grid, reducing the chances of future brownouts, and allows us to resiliently handle such large-scale blackouts as the one we experienced during Hurricane Sandy.
The NYU cogeneration plant sits under Warren Weaver Hall and went online in 2010. The plant provides heating and/or cooling to 44 NYU buildings and electricity to 26 buildings. By utilizing waste heat from electricity production, the plant is able to provide energy to buildings more efficiently than providing heating, cooling, and electricity from separate sources.
Net-Zero Loop Study
NYU is engaged in a multi-year study to analyze pathways to bring the cogeneration plant and the buildings connected to it to net-zero carbon. This study will analyze opportunities to reduce energy needs through building upgrades, evaluate options for reconfiguring the cogeneration plant to a low-temperature heat recovery loop, survey the feasibility of geothermal or solar as energy sources, and analyze the potential to use heat pumps in all-electric solutions that reduce or eliminate the need for fossil fuels on campus.