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Spotlight on Sustainability

March 11, 2009 | Campaign News

As environmental issues continue to draw greater public attention, the focus on building sustainability at CUNY is rapidly gaining momentum.

CUNY has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent in ten years (by 2017), accepting the New York City Mayor’s challenge to universities under the city’s PlaNYC initiative. To accomplish this, Executive Vice Chancellor Allan Dobrin and Deputy Chief Operating Officer Ron Spalter created “Sustainable CUNY/Sustainable New York.” Part of CUNY’s Decade of Science, this initiative strives to incorporate sustainability into the fabric of the university by integrating it into the curriculum, supporting research and partnering with civic and business leaders to serve as an example of sustainable city living while decreasing peak load.

Sustainable CUNY is raising funds from a variety of sources to support the array of initiatives under its aegis. It has won $7.5 million in government funding for projects that include installing solar panels at LaGuardia Community College as a prototype for renewable energy that may be replicated on other campuses. The CUNY Economic Development Corporation has committed $13 million toward a Sustainable Business and Technology Incubator at Bronx Community College to attract new businesses and jobs to the Bronx. There is also new private money. An anonymous donor gave $1 million for a green campus loan fund to assist CUNY campuses wishing to implement environmental projects and donated another $1 million for a business accelerator fund to work with the incubator. A major company gave $400,000 toward the solar initiative at LaGuardia Community College. The Mertz Gilmore Foundation, a new donor to CUNY, recently gave $80,000 and the university is in discussion with another major foundation about funding Green Energy Training@ CUNY, which will help prepare students for a sustainable future.