Governor Cuomo Announces Winners of $3 Million Clean Energy Competition for Colleges and Universities in New York State

May 16, 2016

From the office of Governor Cuomo

Student-Led Coalitions at Bard College, University at Buffalo and SUNY Broome Community College Awarded $1 Million Each to Develop Innovative Clean Energy Projects in their Communities

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will award $1 million each to Bard College, University at Buffalo and SUNY Broome Community College as part of the "Energy to Lead Competition." The competition, first announced by the Governor in October 2015, challenged student-led coalitions from New York colleges and universities to design and develop innovative plans for campus and community-wide clean energy projects. The announcement was made at Bard College in Dutchess County.

"The 'Energy to Lead Competition' is challenging New York's emerging energy leaders to turn innovative ideas into cutting-edge solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy bills and improve resiliency in communities across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "I congratulate our winning students and faculty, and commend them for their commitment to helping to build a cleaner, greener New York."

The "Energy to Lead Competition" is part of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. Through REV, New York State has set the following 2030 energy targets: generate 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels and reduce energy consumption in buildings by 23 percent from 2012 levels. Collectively, the three winning college projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking 17,000 cars off the road each year.

The $3 million competition was administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and was open to student-led coalitions from two- or four-year public or private colleges or universities. The competition challenged schools to develop ideas for innovative projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy or greenhouse gas emission reduction on campus, in the classroom and in surrounding communities.

Applicants were required to demonstrate innovation in one or more of the following areas: project design, business model, partnerships, and/or curriculum integration. They were also asked to describe the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, how they would measure success and how they would use the $1 million award to advance the project.

Richard Kauffman, Chair of Energy and Finance for New York State, said, "Students bring a unique urgency, passion and creativity to the fight against climate change. As we remake our energy system in New York, we are thrilled to harness the leadership of our young people to help us do it faster, cheaper and bigger than any other state. I look forward to the next phase, when the winners will turn these strong ideas into real projects for the benefit of their colleges, their communities and the state as a whole."

John B. Rhodes, President and CEO of NYSERDA, said, "New York is a national leader in developing innovative energy solutions to protect our environment and grow our economy. Congratulations to the winners and all the participants in ‘Energy to Lead’ for taking up this challenge and developing compelling ideas that not only solve critical energy issues on their campuses and communities, but that also make a point of ensuring others can learn from and replicate their success."

Bard College's "Microhydro for Macro Impact" project will show how novel microhydro power generators can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, can be financed in different ways and are integrated into student curricula and workforce training. The project is expected to result in the avoidance of 335 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, and will also include the launch of an online public information resource "NY Microhydro" to help others install microhydro throughout the state.

"On behalf of the College I would like to thank the Governor’s office and NYSERDA for this important award," said Bard College President Leon Botstein. "Innovation is at the core of Bard’s mission, and this award helps us to continue to innovate in environmental issues and energy conservation, and to signal the importance of these issues to the entire higher-education community."

The University at Buffalo's "Localizing Buffalo’s Renewable Energy Future" project will demonstrate how a college or university can partner with its community to transform the local energy ecosystem, all while providing students with valuable research and workforce training opportunities. In partnership with the city of Buffalo and several not-for-profit and educational partners, the project’s goal is to install 100 megawatts of solar power throughout the city and college and university campuses and is expected to result in the avoidance of 82,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

"The University at Buffalo is honored to be selected by Governor Cuomo’s Energy to Lead competition and the innovative Reforming the Energy Vision initiative," said University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi. "Our university has a long tradition of leadership in research, education, and engagement initiatives focused on creating a more sustainable future for our communities and our world. This groundbreaking proposal leverages this leadership and will help us build even further on our impact. We look forward to working with our community to realize the great potential of this initiative, from further implementing our climate action plan to achieving energy savings and driving economic vitality in our region."

SUNY Broome Community College's "Geothermal Learning Laboratory" project will show how a geothermal system can harness the energy stored in the earth to heat and cool a campus, serve as a hands-on learning resource for college and secondary school students, and generate energy bill savings that can be reinvested in energy conservation measures. The project is expected to result in the avoidance of 135 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

"The greening of SUNY Broome just took a huge leap forward. We can't thank the Governor and NYSERDA enough for such a critical award," said SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm. "This initiative will substantially decrease our carbon footprint while fostering student involvement in sustainability efforts and entrepreneurship. It must be noted that students were integral to the development of this proposal. What better way to inspire the green innovators of the future!"

About Reforming the Energy Vision
Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and generating 50 percent of the state's electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven 600 percent growth in the statewide solar market, enabled over 105,000 low-income households to permanently cut their energy bills with energy efficiency, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit and follow us at @Rev4NY.

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

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