Green College Spotlight: New York University

by Stephanie Rogers · View Comments

New York University is one of many schools in the country going green in big ways that extend far beyond simple recycling and CFLs. This esteemed university held on to the title of number one campus purchaser of green energy for over a year, and the renewable energy credits it buys account for 100% of its energy use.  That’s especially impressive when you consider the fact that NYU has a large urban campus.  But when it comes to NYU’s sustainability initiatives, this achievement is just the tip of the iceberg.

Located in New York City with nearly 40,000 students, the NYU campus has been home to environmental activism since the 1980’s, when the Earth Matters environmental club was founded.  The 1990s saw the beginnings of NYU’s recycling program, which was one of the first formal institutional recycling programs in New York City. Since then, New York University’s efforts have rapidly multiplied, and today you can find a wide assortment of sustainability initiatives in place and in the works.

Some of the sustainability projects at NYU include a Sustainability Task Force, green grants, environmental assessment, a comprehensive energy saving strategy, a bookstore green initiative and organic meals at the Hayden Dining Hall.

The Sustainability Task Force is at the helm of NYU’s future green projects, and they carry out their ideas through assessments of current practices, recommending a prioritized ‘Green Action Plan’ to improve NYU’s environmental footprint, getting students, faculty and administrators involved in green efforts and finally, awarding funds for green projects. The Sustainability Task Force has a long list of successful projects including wind power purchases, native landscaping, tracking water consumption, conservation contests in the residence halls and composting biodegradable waste in the dining hall.

“Green Grants” are awarded each year to fund the best project ideas that improve sustainability on campus, engage the community and advance applied research and educational goals. Some of the projects that were funded this year include a year-end residence hall recycling drive, a residential energy challenge, a veggie-powered vehicle project and a lighting efficiency project.

One of the most notable green projects to get funding from NYU’s green grants is the Bike to School project, which was featured in The New York Times when it debuted in 2007. Not only does this project provide bicycles for students to get around campus, it saves old bicycles from heading to the landfill.   Volunteer mechanics at a nearby environmental organization called Times Up! rejuvenate abandoned bikes using new parts purchased with the grant money.  NYU also recently announced funding for a bike-sharing initiative.

Other important commitments that NYU has made to sustainability focus on lowering the university’s eco footprint.  President Sexton signed the Presidents Climate Commitment, and NYU is also a member of New York City’s PlaNYC, which commits them to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent over the next ten years – although, NYU expects to meet that goal much sooner than that.  All new construction at New York University will meet LEED silver standards, joining the university’s first LEED certified building, Gallatin Hall.

Check out the NYU Sustainability website for all the details!

Link [NYU]
Photo credit: James Estrin/The New York Times

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