Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The New School is becoming a more sustainable institution through several
energy efficiency initiatives on campus. Behind these programs are public
commitments driving short- and long-term strategies.
Developed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as part of PlaNYC,
the University Challenge encourages local universities to reduce their carbon
emissions 30 percent by 2017. One of the first institutions to sign up for the
challenge in 2007, The New School had the lowest level of carbon emissions per
square foot of existing buildings of any of the participating institutions at the
start of the initiative.
In 2008, former New School president Bob Kerrey signed the American College
and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)—an agreement to
develop a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible
and implement sustainable practices into educational programs and facilities.
The first public commitment by leaders in higher education to become more
sustainable, The New School signed the international Talloires Declaration in
2009. This agreement incorporates sustainability and eco-literacy into teaching,
research, operations, and communications on campus.
Campus Carbon Footprint
A majority of The New School's carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings.
Heating, cooling, illuminating university spaces, and operating essential needs
such as computer labs, data servers, design shop power tools, and audiovisual
equipment require an enormous amount of energy throughout the year.
Transportation to and from campus, though a small portion of the university's
carbon emissions, also contributes to the campus carbon footprint. See the transportation page for more information on campus initiatives in this area.
Read The New School's Climate Action Plan (PDF). This document summarizes the
efforts to reduce the university's greenhouse gas
emissions and determine a course of action for becoming a more sustainable
The new University Center, currently under construction, is projected to receive
a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold rating, in part due to the design of its
energy systems. Construction is expected to be completed in Fall 2013.
State-of-the-art lighting. The building will feature super-efficiency LED lights
and, where possible, daylight harvesting to utilize sunlight indoors over artificial
light. Vacancy sensors will automatically turn off lighting in unoccupied rooms.
Cogeneration. A 265-kilowatt cogeneration units will generate electricity with
natural gas and recover thermal energy for heating domestic hot water on-site.
As much as 40 percent of the building's electrical load will be generated on-
site, easing the stress on the electrical grid and also providing a reliable source of
generation for critical systems in case of a brownout.
Ice storage. The facility will include an ice-storage system that will be used to
lower the chiller's peak cooling requirement during summer days, when demand
on the grid is greatest. Ice is made in 14 tanks during the night, when the
electricity demand cost is cheaper, and distributes the cold air off the melting ice
throughout the building during the day, reducing peak usage by 30%.
For more information about the sustainability features of University Center, visit
The following are ongoing and future goals related to energy projects on
To reduce energy use in buildings and improve public transportation options, the university:
- drafted a Campus Action Plan with a mitigation strategy to reduce carbon emissions.
- upgraded to high-efficiency lighting in five university buildings and installed LED lighting in Arnhold Hall as a pilot project.
- replaced two 50-year-old steam boilers at Johnson/Kaplan Hall with two high-efficiency boilers that burn a much cleaner, less carbon-intensive fuel.
- replaced the roof at Johnson/Kaplan Hall with a white Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) thermally bonded membrane with superior durability and an ENERGY STAR rating for its high reflectance. Insulation was also added to the roof. The new roof drastically reduces heat absorption in the summer months and also better insulates the building in the winter, resulting in lower cooling and heating loads and costs.
- implemented Demand Control Ventilation in Tishman Auditorium to reduce over ventilation and energy usage.
- improved building automation controls to increase the performance of mechanical equipment and lower energy use.
- replacing air-conditioner units at Johnson/Kaplan Hall with high-performance, energy-saving units.
- completed energy audits and retro-commissioning in nearly 500,000 square feet of university-owned buildings and drafting a capital plan for improvements
- bought Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to match 100 percent of the electricity consumed annually. Each "green tag" bought represents 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy fed into the electrical grid.
- purchases Energy Star-rated appliances, desktops, laptops, and printers plus lighting and some building products. Almost all of the computers purchased by the university meet EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Gold Standards.
- sent all building supers through a "Green Supers" Training Program through which they became certified Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Operators.
- offers a pretax public transportation expense benefit plan for employees. The New School could not be better situated for access to New York City's famous subway and bus system. The central campus and outlying buildings are also linked by the city's growing network of bike lanes.
- conducted a bicycling survey with the help of a consultant and is presently considering strategies to promote cycling to campus. The university has already committed to installing indoor bike racks in dormitories and increasing the number of bike-parking options on campus.
The university will:
- initiate an energy-efficiency campaign that encourages everyone on campus to shut down computers, and turn off lights and window units when leaving a room.
- continue to explore ways to encourage more people to bike to campus.
- develop an Operations and Maintenance Handbook for all university buildings to maximize efficiencies.