Cool Food Pledge
New York University is a signatory to the Cool Food Pledge, a commitment to reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030.
This pledge is in partnership with global organizations, collectively serving over 1.2 billion meals per year, and it encompasses all centrally contracted dining facilities and catering at NYU’s campuses in New York, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi, accounting for over 20 NYU-run dining facilities around the world.
These efforts include:
- Featuring daily menus that have plant-forward entrees that are attractive, tasty, healthy, protein-rich, and wellness-oriented.
- Focusing on whole, minimally processed food.
- Offering vegan options wherever dairy products are offered. Currently all retail locations have plant-based ice creams, and all residential locations have plant-based desserts at their sweet shoppe counters.
- Serving plant-based burgers at every grill location.
- Buying fresh, seasonal and local products to support family farms and businesses.
- Bringing educational programs to teach students how to make delicious, healthy, climate-friendly choices, and how to cook these meals for themselves.
All residential NYU dining locations are also Green Restaurant Association certified, which holds them accountable for meeting additional sustainability measures related to water, waste, energy, and more. NYU also received a Gold rating through the Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System (STARS), conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
The chart below shows NYU’s progress towards meeting the 25 percent goal. This includes data from Abu Dhabi, New York City, and Shanghai.
NYU’s Progress toward 2030 goal*
Description of "NYU's progress towards 2030 goals" chart
Bar chart. The x-axis shows years 2019 (the baseline) to 2030 in increments of one year. The y-axis on the left side shows NYU's total food-related greenhouse gas emissions, reported in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. The y-axis on the right side shows NYU's emissions per calorie in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilocalorie. The left side y-axis data from 2019, 2020, and 2021 shows segmented bars by food type. The bottom segment is ruminant meats; the middle segment is dairy, pork, poultry, eggs, and seafood; and the top segments are plant-based foods. The right side y-axis data shows a line from 2019 to 2021, representing a 7% reduction in emissions per calorie. The 2030 bar is not segmented by food type and shows the 25% decrease in food-related emissions from the 2019 baseline.
- Ruminant meats: 35,849 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
- Dairy, pork, poultry, eggs, and seafood: 35,768 MTCO2e
- Plant-based foods: 2,427 MTCO2e
- Total: 74,044 MTCO2e
- Emissions per calorie: 15.81 MTCO2e/kcal
- Ruminant meats: 17,922 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
- Dairy, pork, poultry, eggs, and seafood: 16,455 MTCO2e
- Plant proteins: 1,250 MTCO2e
- Other plant-based foods: 755
- Total: 36,382 MTCO2e
- Emissions per calorie: 14.71 MTCO2e/kcal
*The large decrease from 2019 to 2020, and increase from 2020 to 2021, are related to changes in the amount of on-campus dining and catering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. All plant-based foods were tracked in a single category in 2019 and 2020.
7% cut in per calorie emissions
from 2019 to 2021
In order to evaluate NYU’s performance separate from the change in total meals served during COVID-19, NYU also tracked its food emissions on a per calorie basis. NYU has had a 7.0% cut in emissions per calorie in the first two years of the pledge.
Emissions by Type by Food
Certain foods disproportionately contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, beef and legumes each provide 5 percent of the calories of NYU’s purchased food. However, beef is 49 percent of NYU’s food emissions, while legumes are just 1 percent.
The figures below show the numbers of calories of each type of food purchased and the emissions of each type of food).
Description of "Calories of food purchased by category in 2021" chart
Calories of food purchased by category in 2021
Pie chart segmented by food type:
- Ruminant meats: 5%
- Dairy: 17%
- Pork: 11%
- Poultry: 17%
- Seafood: 3%
- Eggs: 9%
- Grains: 25%
- Legumes, nuts, and seeds: 5%
- Other plant-based foods: 10%
Description of "Food-related emissions by category in 2021" chart
Food-related emissions by category in 2021
Pie chart segmented by food type:
- Ruminant meats: 49%
- Dairy: 15%
- Pork: 9%
- Poultry: 12%
- Seafood: 4%
- Eggs: 6%
- Grains: 2%
- Legumes, nuts, and seeds: 1%
- Other plant-based foods: 2%