N.Y.U.’s getting green, engaging on readiness and responsibility

By Alicia Hurley and John Beckman

Two important events took place at New York University since the start of the 2006-’07 academic year that we are proud of and would like to share with the community.

The first is a sustainability initiative announced in the fall called the Green Action Plan, or GAP. The GAP was unveiled with the announcement of N.Y.U.’s purchase of 118,000,000 kilowatt-hours of wind power, an amount equal to the commercial-produced power the university customarily buys annually. A mix of regionally and nationally generated wind energy, N.Y.U.’s purchase is the largest by any institution in New York City, and the largest by any U.S. college or university. The Green Action Plan will be guided by N.Y.U.’s Sustainability Task Force, a group of students, faculty and staff led by N.Y.U. Senior Vice President Lynne Brown and Vice President Alison Leary. Since the initial announcement of the GAP effort, there have been two other important announcements:

• The decision to move ahead with the building of a new co-generation facility: Co-generation — the simultaneous production of heat and electricity — is far “greener” than commercially produced power. It is far more efficient (more than 70 percent efficient versus 33 percent) and cleaner (nearly 40 percent less carbon dioxide, and more than 80 percent less particulate matter and regulated pollutants). And this new co-gen plant, which will be underground, will be cleaner and more powerful than the existing plant, allowing more N.Y.U. buildings to come off the local Con Ed grid, which may be crucial to the neighborhood in a power emergency. The university is in dialogue with community representatives about the specifics of siting the facility, and construction is expected to begin this spring.

• A request for proposals for sustainability initiatives at N.Y.U.: In February, the Sustainability Task Force sent out a campus-wide request — to students, faculty and staff — for proposals for programs and ideas to reduce N.Y.U.’s impact on the environment and enhance its sustainability. The submissions will be evaluated by the Task Force over the next two months, and up to $250,000 of the best ideas will be funded.

The second significant announcement is the designation of N.Y.U. as a Community Engagement Campus by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, one of 76 universities nationally. This classification, according to the foundation, “describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”

It reflects such N.Y.U. undertakings as the thousands of students who participate in community service annually, the 10,000 hours per week of help N.Y.U. students provide in local public school classrooms through America Reads and America Counts, the medical care and dental care N.Y.U. provides to the indigent through our medical center and dental college, and our partnerships with local schools through the Steinhardt School, among other curricular and co-curricular activities through which the university connects with its city and its neighborhood.

In the vein of community engagement, this year, we have begun two new initiatives about which we are very excited:

• The “responsibility campaign”:Working with the community boards, local officials, other colleges in the area, local bar owners and our own residence hall staff and student leaders, we have started an effort that aims to encourage good citizenship among students and bar owners, reduce noise, prevent underage drinking, create a network of “Good Neighbor” establishments and address other nightlife safety issues of interest to the community.

• Emergency readiness: N.Y.U., in partnership with Community Board 2, has been very pleased to host a series of meetings for the Greenwich Village community on emergency readiness, also employing its own experts through the university’s Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response. These sessions, which are continuing, provide information that enables individuals and groups in Greenwich Village to prepare for catastrophic events by learning about individual readiness, business and operational continuity and other related topics.

More information about the Community Engagement Campus classification can be found at https://www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications/index.asp?key=1213.

Hurley is N.Y.U. associate vice president for government and community affairs. Beckman is N.Y.U. vice president for public affairs.