• Reducing Emissions

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    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.

    Public Commitments

    Developed by former 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 alternative 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 university.

    University Center

    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.


    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%.

    Please visit the University Center page for more information about the sustainability features.

    Ongoing Initiatives

    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.

    Future Goals

    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.