• Energy and Emissions

    Electricity makes up half of New School energy needs, yet it generates a disproportionately large proportion (two thirds) of total carbon emissions. Our mitigation efforts focus primarily on upgrading or replacing existing building systems, improving operational procedures, and rethinking the intersection of occupant behavior and our built environment.

    Heating Systems

    New York City’s climate is dominated by the winter, which causes building heat to be the largest single driver of building carbon emissions. Heat uses nearly 40 percent of the energy in most New School buildings — mostly in the form of oil and natural gas combustion. Improvements are underway with ongoing system maintenance and conversions from oil to natural gas — which alone can reduce associated CO2emissions by 28 percent.


    Air-conditioning accounts for a large part of campus electricity consumption and is a primary contributor to “peak” loads that strain the electricity grid during the hottest summer days. A new central chiller plant at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, another in the works at Arnhold Hall, and other upgrades will help reduce electricity consumption.

    IT Equipment Management

    Audiovisual equipment, computers, server rooms, and associated cooling requirements on campus consume 20 percent of all electricity used. With increasing computer and connectivity requirements, consumption will continue to rise if unaddressed.

    A three-part plan is underway to reverse the trend:

    1. Use of energy-saving software on 3,000+ computers, synchronizing computer operation with campus schedules to reduce operating hours
    2. Better management of classroom A/V equipment, including TVs and projectors
    3. Consolidation of server rooms and associated cooling requirements on campus

    Metering and Data

    Improving energy data granularity, quality, and accessibility allows for better management. Our Sustainability Dashboard and annual reporting provide updates, analysis, and real-time energy data. We are expanding the depth of campus metering systems throughout the dorms and mechanical systems.

    Lighting and Controls

    Lighting accounts for nearly 30 percent of campus electricity consumption. While individual light fixtures may be insignificant, a single building may contain thousands of lamps, some of which must operate continuously for safety. LED lighting upgrades, occupancy, and daylight-based controls are a primary focus of our energy efficiency plan.

    Continuous Optimization

    Our campus is an ever-changing environment, and building systems must similarly adapt. Continuous optimization is a process that applies to all buildings and systems, new and old; it includes equipment commissioning, issue logging and tracking, analysis of building systems such as ice storage and cogeneration in the University Center, and energy audits in compliance with NYC’s Local Law 87.


    Space heating and cooling can be generated more efficiently with new equipment, but less can be used in general with spaces that are well insulated. Our weatherization program focuses on exterior sealing, window films, and internal thermal barriers.

    Operational Policies

    Staff, faculty, students, and the public all touch our campus in ways that affect the amount of energy it consumes. Our community’s awareness and engagement can reduce our footprint in various dimensions. Building facility staff participate in annual energy efficiency continuing education such as the USGBC’s GPRO courses.

    The New School participates in Con Edison’s Demand Response program during summer months, helping to reduce electricity consumption and strain on the NYC electricity grid when called upon. We’re also working to expand the depth and scope of sustainability standards — including those for new construction, cleaning, and maintenance.

    View current energy and emissions data on our Sustainability Dashboard.