Governor Cuomo Announces $5 Million for New Round of Clean Energy Competition for Colleges and Universities

October 15, 2019

From the office of Governor Cuomo

Reforming the Energy Vision - or REV - Campus Challenge Member Institutions Eligible to Receive up to $1.5 Million

Supports Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal and State's Goal to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 85 Percent by 2050

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the third round of the Energy to Lead competition with $5 million available for New York colleges and universities across the state to aggressively lower their carbon footprint, reduce energy use and improve resiliency both on campus and within the surrounding community. Today's announcement supports Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal, the most aggressive climate and clean energy program in the nation, in addition to the State's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050.

"New York is a leader in the fight against climate change, and through initiatives like Energy to Lead, we are empowering our colleges and universities to establish best-in-class energy efficient clean energy policies for others to follow," Governor Cuomo said. "Through public private partnerships, we are driving the clean energy solutions needed to safeguard our environment, campuses and communities for future generations."

"The Energy to Lead Competition provides colleges and universities with funding to develop innovative clean energy projects in their communities," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "We're incentivizing clean energy innovation to create more jobs and opportunities throughout the state to ensure a cleaner environment and stronger economy for future generations. This new round of the competition will continue to advance our renewable energy goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help combat climate change."

Energy to Lead 2020, the third round of the Energy to Lead competition, offers awards ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million. The competition is open to two- or four-year public or private colleges or universities that are REV Campus Challenge members and is administered through the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). Proposals will be accepted through February 20, 2020.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority CEO and President Alicia Barton said, "To achieve Governor Cuomo's nation-leading goals, New York continues to encourage and support thought leaders from all sectors seeking to have a meaningful impact on our fight against climate change. Under Energy to Lead 2020, colleges, universities and students will play a critical role in driving down harmful emissions across the state while advancing replicable solutions for building more sustainable campuses and communities."

The competition seeks proposals related to a campus and/or community that demonstrate cost-effective energy saving projects that will have a wide and lasting impact, engage students in the process and establish best practices that can be shared and replicated with other campuses. This year, projects within constrained gas areas and projects that reduce dependence on natural gas will be awarded additional points during proposal evaluation. The first two rounds of the competition awarded a total of approximately $6 million to six higher education institutions in New York State.

Ongoing projects awarded under previous rounds of Energy to Lead include:

  • Bard College's "Micro Hydro for Macro Impact" project to use local dams to develop micro-hydropower.
  • The University at Buffalo's "Localizing Buffalo's Renewable Energy Future" project, which will install 100 megawatts (MW) of clean solar power throughout the city.
  • Broome Community College's "Geothermal Learning Laboratory" to install a closed loop geothermal system that uses the heat energy stored in the earth.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology's "Energy Conservation through Dynamic Airflow and Peak-Demand Analytics" that will create an open-source platform that enables an existing building's automation system to dynamically conserve energy.
  • Suffolk County Community College's "Renewable Energy and STEM Center" will implement net zero energy components during construction of its Renewable Energy and STEM Center.
  • University of Rochester's "Toward Net Zero: A Scalable Solar Generation and Energy Storage Solution" includes installation of a modular, combination solar power and energy storage system that feeds the existing university microgrid.

The REV Campus Challenge launched in 2015 with the goal of engaging the broad academic potential of New York State's colleges and universities. Since its launch, the REV Campus Challenge has recognized many institutions across the state for clean energy achievements and engaged dozens more towards transitioning its campuses and communities into a greener, more energy efficient facilities. All higher education institutions in New York State are eligible to join the REV Campus Challenge. For more information on how to become a REV Campus Challenge member, visit NYSERDA's website

New York State's Green New Deal

Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal is the most aggressive climate change program in the nation and puts the state on a path to being entirely carbon-neutral across all sectors of the economy, including power generation, transportation, buildings, industry and agriculture. The Governor's program also establishes a goal to achieve a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any state in the nation. The recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act mandates several of the Governor's ambitious Green New Deal clean energy targets: installing nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035; six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030. The CLCPA also calls for an orderly and just transition to clean energy, creating jobs while spurring a green economy. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $2.9 billion investment in 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector and 1,700 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2012. The CLCPA also directs New York State's agencies and authorities to work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, and to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities.


NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA's programs and funding opportunities, visit or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.

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

Share this:


Holly Liapis
Email the Office of Communications