As Columbia welcomes both new and returning students, faculty, and staff who may have been learning and working remotely throughout the spring and summer months, we’re faced with a campus environment that is in many ways different than we left it in March.

Last Fall, the Office of Environmental Stewardship began the rigorous planning process for Plan 2030, a more robust sustainability plan launching next year. Campus content experts – faculty, administrators, and students – formed five cross-functional, multi-disciplinary working groups to generate content in the areas of Energy, Transportation, Sustainable Events, Sustainable Design and Construction, and Retail Tenant Alignment.

While physical distancing necessitated the postponement of an on-campus ceremony, 40 percent of all Workspace Certification program participants received digital recognition this year.

Citi Bike is expanding its network and is expected to reach 184th Street this summer. The expansion will provide more sustainable and healthy travel alternatives for those living uptown. 

Results from Columbia’s most recent Commute and Travel Survey show that between May 2018 and February 2020 fewer Columbia affiliates chose a drive-alone commute and more walked to campus.

Columbia University has again taken action to enable its strategy for 100 percent clean, renewable energy by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset greenhouse gas emissions from 2019 electricity consumption at the Morningside, Manhattanville, Irving Medical Center, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Nevis, and Baker Athletics Complex campuses. The acquired RECs are certified by the industry-leading verification program Green-e Energy and represent an equivalent number of megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable zero emissions electricity. 

In Year Three of the Sustainable Leaders Network (SLN) Workspace Certification program – a checklist of actions deployed to make workspaces more eco-friendly while fostering a culture of sustainability – over 190 Green Leaders have worked toward improving their office or department's sustainability. New groups including The Forum, where last year's Campus Sustainability Fair was held, have signed on to document their progress creating workplace habits to lessen Columbia's overall environmental footprint.

Columbia Print was recently profiled in In-plant Impressions (IPI), a graphic arts magazine written specifically for in-plant print shops. The article praised Columbia Print's sustainability efforts and innovation in the print industry, specifically their early adoption of carbon-reducing recycled and TreeZero paper. Read the full article on IPI's website.

Almost 200 high school students filed into Lerner Hall on Friday, March 6 to participate in the third annual Columbia Youth Climate Summit hosted by the EcoReps in partnership with Consilience, the Journal of Sustainable Development. At the all-day event, the students attended workshops and lectures by leading climate experts, and even crafted their own action plans to bring back to their school or community.

Pupin Plaza Garden, located outside Pupin Hall on upper campus, will undergo renovations this spring.

Inspired by work with the Earth Institute, Columbia Event Management is excited to offer a Sustainable Living menu curated to feature local ingredients, focusing on vegan and vegetarian options. Menu selections are updated frequently to reflect fresh and seasonal options. 

Two student capstone projects during the Fall 2019 semester focused on assessing and improving sustainability on campus. An undergraduate Sustainable Development Workshop studied water conservation efforts at Columbia and other American universities, and the School of Professional Studies’ Master of Science in Sustainability Management Program tasked a capstone group with evaluating and advancing sustainability at Faculty House, a premier event space and campus landmark.

As Columbia’s first campus-wide sustainability plan will come to a close in 2020, the Office of Environmental Stewardship launched the planning process to build the next iteration. Plan 2030 – a larger, more ambitious 10-year plan encompassing all four of Columbia’s campuses – will provide a roadmap for the University to take progressive, urgent action around climate change.

New York, NY, October 15, 2019 - Columbia University announced today that it recently joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. Columbia is using about 270,897,887 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually from wind, which is enough green power to meet 100 percent of the university’s electricity use. In using wind power, Columbia is helping advance the voluntary market for green power and development of those sources.

During its coverage of the Global Citizen Festival in September, MSNBC featured members of Columbia University in a segment focused on individuals and groups engaged in social issues including health, education, sustainability and sanitation.