Sustainable CUNY Wins EPA’s Highest Award

April 29, 2012 | Media Release

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Sustainable CUNY, of The City University of New York (CUNY), the prestigious 2012 Environmental Quality Award for its effort to support large scale solar adoption as lead for the NYC Solar America City Partnership (Partnership). Each year, the EPA honors those who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality and public health.

The environmental and energy challenges of New York City are complex and interwoven with the infrastructure and the economy of America’s largest city. Energy requirements for peak electricity demands on NYC’s grid continue to rise, yet regulations require that the majority of NYC’s peak electricity demand be supplied from within city limits, posing environmental concerns. The widespread adoption of renewable energy and efficiency habits can help address these concerns. The Partnership – comprised of The City University of New York (CUNY), the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation – won a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to design and build the NYC Solar Map, as part of a comprehensive solar plan for NYC.  Additional funding was provided by the City of New York and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), with technical support provided by Con Edison.

Financially, technically and environmentally, the NYC Solar Map makes it clear that solar energy is a viable option for NYC and further supports PLaNYC goals to foster  the market for renewable energy, which is part of the overarching mission to achieve a 30% reduction in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.  The focused initiative of the Partnership has helped lead to an 800% increase of solar energy capacity in New York City since 2007 while the number of NYC Solar installation companies has quadrupled.

“As the nation’s leading urban public university, CUNY is proud to be working with our City and State partners to influence a transformational and measurable change in the use of clean, renewable energy in New York City,” said Tria Case, the lead implementer of the solar plan for NYC and The City University Director of Sustainability.  The Environmental Quality Award is the highest award the EPA presents to the public and was accepted by Ms. Case, along with Sergej Mahnovski, Director of Energy Policy for the NYC Mayor’s Office; John Mucci, Vice President of Manhattan Operations for Con Edison; Michael Colgrove, Director of NYC Office, NYSERDA; and Ron Spalter, Deputy COO for CUNY.

The Map displays granular information on the solar potential of every one of NYC’s one million buildings including how much solar can be installed, how much power that will generate, how much can be saved on their annual electricity bill, how many pounds of carbon emissions they can reduce each year, and what the equivalent that would be in planting trees. The map was built at the Center for Advanced Research of Spatial Information (CARSI) at CUNY’s Hunter College and combines data gathered with aerial lasers known as ‘Light Detection and Ranging’ (LiDAR) and sophisticated mapping technology.

CUNY, on behalf of NYC and with the support of over 30 organizations, recently won a third consecutive award from the Department of Energy through its SunShot Initiative ‘Rooftop Solar Challenge’, part of a national effort to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.  Details of the Solar Monitoring, Analytics, Road mapping and Tracking NY (SMART NY) plan to make solar energy more accessible and affordable for residents and businesses by driving down the administrative costs will be presented at the NYC Solar Summit on June 7, 2012.