On Earth Day, Chancellor Johnson Announces SUNY is On Target to Meet Governor Cuomo’s Statewide 2020 Energy Use Goals

April 22, 2019

Despite Square Footage Increases of 50%, Campuses Have Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Nearly 25% and Energy Usage by 18%

Reductions Due to Innovative Sustainability Efforts Across 64 Campuses, Saving Millions in Energy Costs

Albany – In celebration of Earth Day, Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson today announced that The State University of New York is on target to meet Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's statewide energy use goals of reducing average energy use intensity by 20 percent by 2020. SUNY has lowered its energy usage by 18 percent since 2011. Energy use intensity is a measure of total energy used per square foot. In Executive Order 88, which was drafted in 2012, the Governor required all state-owned buildings to reduce their average energy usage 20 percent by 2020.

Since 1990, SUNY has also reduced its carbon footprint from 1.02 million metric tons in 1990 to 770,000 metric tons in 2017, decreasing its greenhouse emission by nearly 25 percent. Year over year, SUNY has saved $19 million in energy costs, and in the last decade, SUNY’s energy efficiency measures have saved more than $300 million. The reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions comes in spite of a 50 percent increase in the system’s total square footage.

"We celebrate Earth Day by utilizing the latest technology to increase sustainability and energy efficiency while decreasing our carbon footprint and energy usage across our 64 campuses," SUNY Chancellor Johnson said. "As the nation’s largest university system, SUNY will lead by example by working with our talented faculty and visionary students to continue to research and develop the next generation of energy efficiency technology to combat the damaging effects of climate change every day of the year."

SUNY operates 40 percent of New York’s state-owned buildings. All 64 campuses are actively engaged in Chancellor Johnson’s vision of making SUNY a more environmentally sustainable system. Projects have included everything from the installation of fuel cells, solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations to the construction of a net zero facility that uses geothermal heating. Renovation projects across the system have incorporated numerous energy saving technologies, ranging from insulated roofs to micro-turbines.

Among the campus projects that have started to produce measureable results include:

  • Fuel Cell Technology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn – A partnership with Bloom Energy and Con Edison led to the installation of a 1.8 megawatt fuel cell system that produces clean energy for electricity. Between May and December 2018, the fuel cells have saved Downstate more than $331,000 and avoided 8.7 million pounds of carbon, the equivalent of removing 829 cars from the road for one year.
  • Solar Power at SUNY New Paltz – Working with the New York Power Authority, the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the Electric Power Research Institute, SUNY New Paltz built a $1.37 million solar energy and battery storage system that supports a battery storage system and delivers continuous solar photovoltaic power. The stored solar power is available during emergencies and times of peak energy demand, for both the college and the community. Together with lighting upgrades, thermal blanket insulation project in mechanical rooms, and steam trap repairs, the 217-kilowatt project has saved the campus almost $250,000.
  • New Building at SUNY University at Albany – The Albany Campus is building the Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Complex (ETEC) as part of its NY SUNY2020 Plan, an initiative to enhance educational programs and spur economic growth. The project aligns with SUNY’s plans to design all new buildings to achieve zero net carbon emissions. The $180 million project will feature several energy efficiency measures that are expected to reduce energy costs by about 70 percent, a savings of about $200,000 a year. ETEC will also have a geothermal well field and heat pumps that will help heat and cool the building. New solar panels on the podium roof of the neighboring Uptown Campus will offset the electric use of the non-lab portions of the building.
  • Net Zero Carbon Retrofit at SUNY Oneonta – SUNY is also about to embark on its first deep energy retrofit project at SUNY Oneonta as part of the Retrofit NY program. The college is partnering with NYSERDA and the state Dormitory Authority to retrofit the 213-bed dorm. Ford Hall is the first building in the system to undergo a deep energy retrofit, with construction slated to begin May 2020. Ford Hall will serve as a prototype for the entire SUNY system and for other higher education institutions.

In addition to individual campus efforts, SUNY system and 16 campuses have teamed up with private universities across the state to form a coalition called the New York Higher Education Large Scale Renewable (NY HE LSRE) project. NY HE LSRE is in the process of hiring a consultant to develop an RFP that will solicit bids for the procurement of 100 percent renewable energy for its members and ultimately, all SUNY campuses. The purchase of renewable electricity will significantly reduce SUNY’s carbon footprint and enable SUNY to meet the Governor’s goals to have 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040.

The Chancellor's vision for sustainability also includes growing the clean energy workforce. Last fall, Governor Cuomo invested $15 million in SUNY’s clean energy workforce development and training programs.

In addition, SUNY continues to do research in clean energy. Last year, SUNY received $24.75 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund clean energy research by Binghamton University Distinguished Professor M. Stanley Whittingham, and Stony Brook University Distinguished Professor Esther S. Takeuchi and Professor John B. Parise. As the lead researchers for three of the nation's 42 Energy Frontier Research Centers, they are working to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to expand clean energy research, such as batteries and energy storage.

SUNY is also working to change the culture on its campuses to embrace more energy efficient behaviors. Morrisville State College for example, is growing its own produce for its dining halls and promoting car sharing.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit suny.edu.

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