CUNY's HELPing Hand

Needless to say, The City University needs everyone's help. But as Jerry Marmer is keenly aware, it also needs HELP. That is, a High-Efficiency Lighting Program.

HELP is one of several energy-saving initiatives that Energy Manager Marmer has presided over since 1990, when CUNY launched a concerted effort to reduce campus energy consumption. Impetus for this effort came in part from the State Division of the Budget and the State Energy Office, as well as from a gubernatorial Executive Order mandating a 20% reduction in energy usage for all state agencies by the year 2000.

Marmer has been so successful at the helm of this program, established by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and coordinated by the University Budget Office, that he was recently chosen by the 8,000-member Association of Energy Engineers as Energy Manager of the Year for its Region I, which covers most of the northeastern United States. Working closely with NYPA, Marmer, a 28-year veteran of facilities- and management-related positions at New York City Technical College and the Central Office, has supervised the deployment of HELP at 13 campuses, beginning with the relamping of Hunter College. Five other colleges are now designing and planning their HELPs. When all are in place, CUNY will save $4.8 million annually.

The new generation of low-energy lamps, which have to be changed much less often, has in many cases improved the work/study environment. Moreover, the University's agreement with the State Division of Budget provides for 50% of the energy savings, or about $1 million in 1995-96, to be re-invested in other modes of energy conservation.

Other projects for which Marmer has acquired outside funding include two at Brooklyn College that were entirely cost-free: The conversion of the boiler plant from oil to gas, and improvements to the steam plant, financed with a $500,000 grant from the State Energy Office. CUNY has also received numerous grants from utilities and the State Energy and Research Development Authority to replace steam traps, motors, and sensors, and to acquire alternative-fuel vehicles.

Marmer estimates the value of current and future energy-saving projects, all funded by NYPA, at more than $36 million. And significant cuts in consumption have been achieved: Since the base year of 1988-89, campus energy consumption has declined 8%.

The University's efforts have already achieved extramural recognition. Green Lights, a voluntary partnership of colleges and universities and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, lists CUNY first among universities for energy conservation.