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City colleges go green

Lehman College’s Science Hall has a rooftop greenhouse.

Lehman College’s Science Hall has a rooftop greenhouse. Credit: Lehman College’s Science Hall has a rooftop greenhouse.

With the arrival of Cornell NYC Tech, the university’s new tech campus on Roosevelt Island in 2017, the city will become home to one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable college campuses in the world.

But until then, colleges across the Big Apple are hard at work making their environmental footprint smaller.

In honor of Earth Day, here’s a glimpse into the greenness of NYC’s higher education institutions.

The City University of New York has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2017 across its 23 schools through three key initiatives: the CUNY Sustainability Project, citywide Sustainable Energy projects, and CUNY SustainableWorks, a commercialization program for sustainable and clean technology. The university is also looking to incorporate sustainability principles into its curriculum.

One CUNY institution that’s investing in a more sustainable campus is Lehman College, which recently opened its new $70 million, state-of-the-art, 69,000-square-foot building on Jan. 28.

The new building features a rooftop greenhouse and a storm and greywater waste management system, according to the college’s website. It is expected to qualify for LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“The new Science Hall is a real and tangible way in which we demonstrate to our students, faculty, staff and the community at large Lehman College’s commitment to sustainability,” said Dr. Anny Morrobel-Sosa, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “It’s our intention to have Science Hall serve as a model for how a building can meet the needs of a college and its students, and also be environmentally friendly.”

Columbia University is also working on initiatives to become more eco-friendly. The college used a fund from the National Science Foundation to investigate green-roof technology over the past several years, and created seven green roofs in and around its Morningside Heights Campus.

The college’s new Manhattanville campus in West Harlem includes plans to extend the green roofs program and to develop park space along the Hudson River between 129th and 133rd streets.

And New York University is offering up Green Grants to those who can come up with academic sustainability initiatives to make NYU more eco-friendly.

Each year, faculty, staff and students with sustainability expertise and leadership at NYU assemble to form a Green Grants Selection Committee, which then awards grants for “the most feasible, impactful and innovative projects that have potential for institutionalization on campus or long-term self-sustainment,” according to the university’s website.

The NYU Office of Sustainability then works to put the most successful projects into play campuswide.

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