CUIMC Facilities Management Celebrates Earth Month 2022

WHEREAS, we all have a moral, economic, public health, and security imperative to act to protect our planet, fellow human beings, and future generations; and WHEREAS, we must act, and act together at every level, as individuals, as cities, and as a global community…

With these opening words, New York City Executive Order 26 (EO 20) reminds us that we are in this together and that there is work to be done. If you’re unfamiliar with it, EO 26 is former Mayor Bill DiBlasio’s Climate Action Executive Order, delivered in June 2017. It represents and declares New York City’s Commitment to the principles and goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and a significant legislative demonstration of the city’s intent to make a local and global difference in sustainability efforts.

Since 2008, New York City has enacted numerous other local laws to move towards decarbonization in its energy sector. Local Law 17 created the office of long-term planning and under Local Law 66, New York City committed to reducing its city-wide carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050. Local Law 33 establishes that buildings must display restaurant-style energy grades. These grades provide occupants and visitors a clear snapshot of the buildings' energy performance relative to other New York City buildings. Local Law 88 calls for upgrading lighting systems to LEDs with controls in the common area and installation of sub-meters by January 2025. And Local Law 97, discussed in greater detail in Part 3, tackles carbon emissions from new and existing buildings.

While compliance with these laws is an important civic responsibility, it is by no means the only motivating factor. Even before Executive Order 26 was signed, Columbia University had been working toward improving its sustainability efforts. In 2017, the University released its first Sustainability Plan, the result of a year and a half-long collaboration among the main campuses to set strategic goals for the entire Columbia Community. Two years later, in 2019, President Bollinger introduced Columbia University’s Plan 2030 to the University community and the world. This upgraded plan calls for “an increased commitment across all areas of the University, and the ability to model sustainable values within every part of its culture – the way it educates, operates, designs, constructs, and manages resources.”

Since then, CUIMC, along with Columbia's other New York City campuses, has rigorously engaged in energy inventories, best practices, and strategic planning, which we will outline over the next several weeks in a series of articles that highlight our firm commitment to meeting these necessary goals and inform you how we plan to do so. After all, “Plan 2030 will require transformational change across campuses, schools, and departments. Its success is heavily dependent on participation from all of us at all levels.”

We are in this together and there is work to be done.


Read Part 2: Recharge NY and Hydropower in Washington Heights

Read Part 3: Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) at CUIMC

Read Part 4: CUIMC is Taking Action