Event: Universities = Energy: Campus Action for Building Energy Reduction
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.22.11
Speakers: Nilda Mesa — Assistant Vice President of Environmental Stewardship, Columbia University; Dianne Anderson — Sustainable Resources Manager of Operations, New York University; Dan Garofalo — Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, University of Pennsylvania
Moderator: Peter Syrett, AIA, LEED AP — Associate Principal, Senior Project Designer, Perkins+Will
Organizers: AIANY; Center for Architecture Foundation
Sponsors: Underwriters: ARUP; ConEdison; Perkins+Will; Lead Sponsors: Buro Happold; STUDIOS Architecture; 3M; EPD Energy Products Distribution; APG Design Studio; Sponsors: FLIR; MechoShade Systems Inc.; Robert Silman Associates; Trespa; Supporters: Acheson Doyle Partners Architects PC; DeLaCour Family Foundation; Ibex Construction; KPF; Syska Hennessy Group, Inc.; Friends: 1100 Architect; Bleecker Area Merchants & Residents Association (BAMRA); Brenda Levin; Capsys Corp.; Community Environmental Center Inc.; Helpern Architects; Hugo S. Subotovsky AIA Architects LLC; Levien & Company; New York Building Congress Inc.; Oppenheimer Brady Vogelstein; P.W. Grosser Consulting Inc.; Swanke Hayden Connell Architects; Viridian Energy & Environmental LLC
“NYU Green,” the “Green Campus Partnership” at the University of Pennsylvania, “Clean & Go Green Columbia.” These are not empty slogans, but rather they represent a commitment by the students, faculty, and staff at these universities to reduce their carbon footprints.
There are more than 6,000 institutions of higher learning in the country. Large urban universities such as those represented on the panel are in effect their own metropolises, inhabiting a concentrated or ever-expanding, non-contiguous portion of a city. NYU, for example, has 41,000 students, 16,000 faculty and staff, and inhabits approximately 12 million square feet in more than 160 buildings.
The panelists may have different job titles, but each is considered to be the primary gatekeeper of sustainable efforts at their respective schools. The overarching mission is to garner support for sustainability from administration, faculty, staff, and students.
Columbia University, often credited with coining the term “global warming,” and host to the city’s first green roof research station, is mindful of the three “P’s”: people, planet, and profits, according to Nilda Mesa, assistant vice president of environmental stewardship. Some sustainability measures include clean construction, green purchasing, on-campus composting, and other recycling efforts, including keeping 500 tons of outdated furniture and equipment out of landfills and into community-based organizations or non-profits like Build It Green.
At NYU, as described by Dianne Anderson, sustainable resources manager of operations, measures range from lighting retrofits to shutting down non-essential lights, elevators, and equipment at low traffic times, to building a co-gen plant covered with a lawn and benches to be used as a neighborhood amenity. The university has also established a sustainability advocacy program in which employees are urged to green their own departments and workspaces.
What guides many NYC colleges and universities is the Mayor’s 2030 Challenge, initiated in 2007 by Mayor Bloomberg, which is a commitment to reduce campus-wide greenhouse emissions 30% by 2017.
“I think PlaNYC is brilliant to ask our large institutions to sign onto the Mayor’s Challenge to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, since they own so much square footage,” said Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, 2011 AIANY President. “And since universities have a culture of sharing knowledge, they can share best practices and hopefully have a little healthy competition while doing it.”
Linda G. Miller is a NYC-based freelance writer and publicist, and a contributing editor to e-Oculus and OCULUS.