NYU Sustainability 2018 #YearInReview

Here at the Office of Sustainability we can’t believe 2018 is coming to an end! This year, we raised the bar in our pursuit of making NYU one of the greenest urban campuses. Check out some of our highlights for 2018.

New Year, New Leadership

The Office kicked off the year by welcoming our new Assistant Vice President for Sustainability, Cecil Scheib. In President Hamilton’s words, “the University is committed to continue taking concrete actions to reduce its carbon footprint; to make sustainability a higher priority within our community, both individually and institutionally; to operate more sustainably; and to be a sustainability leader in higher education. The appointment of Cecil Scheib as the Assistant Vice President for Sustainability is an important step in realizing those goals.”

Conserving and Competing: NYUnplugged

In the last week of March, the EcoReps took the lead on our annual residence hall energy reduction competition, NYUnplugged. EcoReps in each residence hall handed out free LED light bulbs, hosted events in the dark, and educated residents on the importance of taking energy reduction into their own hands. 450 students participated and their actions amounted to savings in carbon emissions, water, and waste.

Ideas for the Future

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Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson speaks on ocean conservation

In April, we announced the Sustainability at NYU campaign, an online platform where members of the NYU community could share ideas about how to make NYU more sustainable. We received ideas from faculty, staff, and students, addressing different issues of sustainability on campus. The campaign yielded over 2,300 participants and generated 178 ideas.

April also marked Earth Month. Departments, clubs, and groups across the campuses carried outdozens of diverse programs. The Office of Sustainability welcomed Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson as our Spring Educating For Sustainability speaker. Dr. Johnson spoke to a packed audience about ocean conservation and the need for collaboration between government employees, scientists, and local populations in order to protect our oceans.

Earth Matters ran their annual Earth Day Street Fair, a resource fair for community organizations and campus groups. The NYU EcoReps played the recycling game, testing attendees on their recycling know-how; NYU Dining offered vegan chocolate mousse, and student activist groups shared petitions to sign.

Moving out and Moving Forward

May marked the end of the 2017-2018 academic year, which meant moving NYU students out of the residence halls. During the Green Apple Move Out, students donated more than eight tons of gently used, reusable items to Goodwill.

Leadership Summit participants discuss climate change at NYU Shanghai

The Office of Sustainability partnered with the Leadership Initiative on NYU’s Global Leadership Summit, on climate change and the future of humanity. Forty-four students from all three portal campuses, NYC, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, were selected to travel to Shanghai to discuss sustainable solutions to global environmental challenges. They developed an action plan that was carried out in the Fall semester to raise awareness of this pressing issue.

Plastic Free July

As cities, states, and our very own dining halls moved to ban single-use plastics, our team initiated the first #PlasticFreeJuly campaign at NYU.Our Office of Sustainability student team plogged, participated in beach and street clean-ups, and shared with the community on social media about ways to avoid plastics!

A Big Green Welcome

As always, we wrapped up the summer and kicked off the school year with over a dozen events during Welcome Week to let students know about some of the ways to get involved with sustainability at NYU.

Educating Our Network

In September we welcomed over 60 new EcoReps, representing all 22 undergraduate residence halls, to plan green events and promote sustainable living in their residence halls. The EcoReps encouraged their hall residents to sign the NYUGreen Room Pledge: a checklist of actions to reduce your carbon footprint. Over 800 residents signed the pledge!

This Fall, our Director of Sustainability, Dianne Anderson, taught the first ever Environmental Studies Capstone class on Waste Strategies at NYU to 10 senior students!

For our Fall Educating for Sustainability lecture, we invited NYU Shanghai professor Rodrigo Zeidan to tell us why “We Should All Become Mutant Bacteria.” Through this metaphor, he discussed the intersection of sustainability and economics.

Working Groups Champion Sustainability Across Campus

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Working Group members discuss bold sustainability initiatives for NYU

This Fall, President Hamilton and Provost Fleming convened working groups of campus stakeholders to review ideas generated from the Sustainability at NYU campaign and carry out near-term measures to make NYU more sustainable. The working groups will be announcing their actions in the coming weeks!

Better Buildings

Two NYU building received recognition for environmental performance this year. Brooklyn’s 370 Jay Street received LEED Platinum for its base building. And after renovations, Brittany Hall received LEED Silver certification  through employing strategies that reduced 81% of energy used for heating, 43% of carbon emissions, and 49% of operating costs — even with the addition of air conditioning! NYU has set a standard that all new buildings meet at least the LEED Silver certification criteria. NYU now has over 2 million square feet of space that is LEED certified or undergoing certification.

NYU played a key role in New York City’s 80×50 Buildings Partnership’s “Blueprint for Efficiency” plan, which is a collaborative effort by 40 of the city’s leading building and energy stakeholders, to achieve the goal of cutting 80 percent of the city’s emissions by 2050.

Most recently, AVP Cecil Scheib testified before City Council on legislation that would aggressively reduce carbon emissions, a goal the University has already undertaken.  

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Uhall EcoReps table for Zero Waste Week

Zero Waste Week

November marked the return of our annual Zero Waste Week challenge. This year, 190 students participated in the week-long challenge to carry all of their landfill-bound waste!

Green Grants Roundup

In 2018, the Green Grants Program awarded over $125,000 in funding to 13 unique projects. The scope of these sustainability focused initiatives ranged from research in psychology regarding the phenomenon of “attachment” and how it can be used to encourage pro-environmental behavior, to the organization of a Sustainability in Business Summit for NYU students and staff to be held early next year. Other projects include the official satellite event, March for Science New York City, in partnership with the international series of rallies; Urban Food Labs, which builds off of We Are The New Farmers, a former Green Grant, to bring vertical farming into the Tandon curriculum, allowing students to conduct independent projects; Sustainability in Tisch Film Productions, which seeks to make the operations of their Advanced Television Production class shoot as sustainable as possible; and more!

As we head into 2019, NYU has even bigger and bolder sustainability goals and initiatives on the horizon. We look forward to continue working with our community to make NYU the greenest urban campus. So join us! And be part of our 2019 #YearInReview.


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