Fall 2018 Sustainable Columbia Newsletter

Check out the Fall 2018 update on Columbia University's Environmental Sustainability.

October 19, 2018

Dear Members of the University Community,

Welcome back to campus for our Fall 2018 semester. We've made great strides this summer in our sustainable operations. 

Columbia Dining is transitioning to compostable straws to further our waste reduction goals, electric intercampus shuttle buses- which will reduce emissions by 70% per year- established Columbia as the #1 University for Sustainable Transportation by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and our Sustainable Leaders Network (SLN) now includes over 90 teams.  
Of course, every member of our community plays a role in changing the culture in which we learn, work, and live.  Please take a moment to read this edition of Sustainable Columbia and learn about some of the real and meaningful ways members of our University community are making a difference. 


David M. Greenberg
Executive Vice President
University Facilities and Operations 

News & Updates 

Columbia's All Electric Shuttle Buses Hit The Road 
Columbia moved one step closer to reaching its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals today, officially introducing six new battery-electric buses to its campus shuttle network. The new vehicles replace the existing diesel-powered buses on its campus shuttle network. Among the first electric buses to be introduced in New York City, the vehicles offer both environmental and health benefits, including reduced emissions and noise pollution, and improved air quality. Read more.

Columbia Ranked as Top Performer in 2018 AASHE Sustainable Campus Index
Columbia University has been recognized in the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index, achieving the top spot in Transportation and coming in third in Research among doctoral institutions. The 2018 Sustainable Campus Index, a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), highlights top-performing colleges and universities overall and in 17 impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Read more.

Renovation of Columbia Engineering Data Science Institute Space at Mudd Hall Awarded LEED Gold 
The new Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science space for Data Science, on the fourth and fifth floors of Mudd Hall, has earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) under the Interior Design and Construction rating system.
The space, renovated from the former Engineering Library, now provides offices for many of Columbia Engineering's faculty and others who are affiliated with the Data Science Institute.

New Video Captures Sustainability at Columbia
The Environmental Stewardship office recently created a video about sustainability-related initiatives at Columbia, and how to get involved. Every new employee on the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses will see this video during New Hire Employee Orientation. Watch the video.

Columbia Dining Transitions Away from Plastic Straws
Columbia Dining is transitioning to 100% compostable paper straws and plant based plastic cups for to-go cold beverages. Columbia Dining has used compostable paper plates, bowls, cups, and plastic cutlery since 2008, as part of Columbia’s commitment to sustainability. In John Jay Dining hall, reusable china and flatware is utilized. Please note, plastic, bendable straws for accessibility purposes are available upon request at all units. Read more.

Ferris Booth Commons Begins Organics Collection 
Beginning this Fall, Ferris Booth commons now has an organics program, to compliment the compostable straws and other flatware offered in the dining hall. This initiative adds to the already sustainable dining operations on campus, including trayless dining, donation of surplus goods, recycled cooking oil, post-consumer recycled content napkins and reusable containers. Read more.

Columbia Launches Updated Recycling Signage
In response to student feedback, Facilities Operations collaborated with the Environmental Stewardship office to create new recycling and trash signage for public spaces on campus. The new signage is currently being rolled out in phases over the course of the Fall semester, and features increased specificity and detail on what can be thrown into each bin, including visual icons to further aid users. The icons were voted on and selected by members of the Sustainable Leaders Network.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Goes Solar
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) is currently receiving 75% of their electrical needs from two 2-kilowatt solar farms in Upstate New York.  Lamont director Sean Solomon notes, “Seventy percent of the carbon footprint of the Lamont Campus currently comes from our electricity usage, so developing these two solar farms is the largest single step we can take to reduce that footprint. We are grateful to New York State and our partners in the power industry for enabling us to pursue this investment in clean energy.” Read more.

New Earth Institute Director Alex Halliday's Vision Reaches Across Columbia and the World 
Geochemist Alex Halliday was appointed the new director of Columbia’s Earth Institute by University President Lee C. Bollinger last December. He builds on a distinguished career as an earth science researcher and the leader at a variety of research institutions around the world, including Oxford University and the Royal Society in London, the world’s first scientific organization, founded in 1660. Read more.  

Sustainable Leaders Network Expands Into Year Two
The Sustainable Leaders Network - a group of representatives from schools and departments across the University - is now in it's second year of operation. With over 90 teams, 50% participation from all schools at Columbia and six certified groups, the SLN is significantly impacting the University's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve sustainability through culture change. Learn more or sign up to participate in the program.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center Makes Energy Saving Moves 
Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) has made strides toward improving the energy demand on campus in a variety of ways. Implementation of a new software system looks at real-time energy consumption to forecast electricity demand, acting as an overlay to the existing Building Management System, to restrict electricity demand and set monthly goals.

Clean + Go Green Gathers Items for Children Affected by Border Actions
In July, Facilities Operations, Environmental Stewardship and other University partners held the bi-annual Clean and Go Green event to responsibly recycle, reuse, and dispose of common office and household items. This summer, the event also accepted donations specifically for children affected by actions at the border: clothes, books, games, and tons of toys all in new to very lightly used condition. The items were successfully dropped off downtown by our colleagues in Facilities & Operations and Columbia Transportation. Thank you to all who donated items in support of this effort.