NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced more than $5 million in awards to four colleges and universities to help them achieve deep energy savings and combat climate change under the Energy to Lead Competition. The City College of New York Building Performance Lab, New York Medical College, Syracuse University, and Vassar College will receive more than $1 million each to develop comprehensive and cost-effective projects that advance building decarbonization while incorporating student input and community engagement, including two projects that will implement net zero energy performance in retrofit and new construction applications. This announcement supports Gov. Cuomo's nation-leading climate and clean energy agenda including an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

"Colleges and universities are at the heart of inspiring the next generation of climate leaders to create and implement sustainable clean energy solutions that fight climate change," said Coumo. "The Energy to Lead competition has created an opportunity to empower students, professors, and leadership to help New York deliver low-carbon solutions for one of our toughest areas to decarbonize — buildings — while fostering a great sense of campus pride around the ability to create a greener and cleaner future on campuses and in surrounding communities."

As part of the Energy to Lead competition, these campuses will advance clean energy plans that will be instrumental in achieving New York State's goals to realize a carbon neutral building stock, inspire the next generation of climate leaders, and provide robust opportunities for student engagement. Combined, the projects are expected to save 4,604 metric tons of carbon annually, the equivalent to removing almost 4,000 cars from the road each year. The projects provide educational and professional opportunities to students and local communities. Additionally, the projects will deliver local community benefits by helping reduce emissions in the area. Each awardee will share best practices by providing guidance documents to distribute on campus and at higher education events for replication planning, funding, and implementation. This will help maximize quantifiable energy and greenhouse gas reductions on their own campuses as well as other campuses around the state. 

"The colleges and universities recognized through the Energy to Lead Competition are leading by example and moving our fight against climate change forward by engaging the campus community in one of the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Doreen M. Harris, president, NYSERDA. “Their compelling projects will deliver meaningful carbon reducing results, help develop future climate leaders and improve access to clean energy with solutions that can be replicated and brought to scale."


Energy to Lead Winners

The City College of New York - Building Performance Lab - $1.4 Million: Will develop a control based, systematic process for facilities staff and building operators to increase their ability to effectively manage and properly commission major energy consuming systems on campus. The project will deploy, test, and document a systematic process to engage students and facilities staff in implementing building automation system (BAS)-based procedures that offer control of electricity use.

"This project is designed to educate energy users on data-based efficiencies,” said Vincent Boudreau, president, City College of New York. “Energy efficiency is among the highest priorities we have for developing a sustainable future and City College is excited to share its expertise in this field."


New York Medical College - $1.3 Million: Will design and implement a campus-wide, direct digital control (DDC) building management system that will combine existing systems with new, advanced controls to create a single system for campus HVAC, chiller, and boiler pumps as well as lighting controls. Training sessions will be held to help facilities staff optimize system performance, and a campus climate action plan will be implemented to inventory campus greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. The campus will conduct outreach and educational activities to inform students and the community of project progress.

"New York Medical College (NYMC) is committed to advancing intelligent, replicable energy efficiency and conservation solutions on our Valhalla campus,” said Dr. Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and CEO, New York Medical College “The Energy to Lead award will contribute to the installation of state-of-the-art building control technologies that will be the underlayment of a substantial campus-wide reduction in greenhouse gas production. We look forward to this project serving as an important learning opportunity for our student body to learn how institutions can make measurable impacts on climate action through responsible operations. This project will serve as a tangible example of the high standard for environmental stewardship to which NYMC aspires."


Syracuse University - $1.3 Million: Will conduct a retrofit project on an existing eight-unit campus dormitory building, leveraging creative, cost-effective solutions to develop, analyze, and implement net-zero energy performance. The project will evaluate the impact of renewable energy sources, high-efficiency systems, and occupant-centric smart building controls to increase energy savings. Students will participate in energy modeling, simulation, and evaluation of building performance. The project will also be promoted and shared with the local community through an exhibit at the University's Museum of Science and Technology.

"Syracuse University is proud of the broad cross-disciplinary team applying expertise from architecture, the iSchool, and engineering to a real-world problem in sustainable energy,” said John Liu, interim vice chancellor and provost, Syracuse University. “Not only will the project provide a proof of concept for a net-zero retrofit of an existing building but will also take into account human factors in the built environment. Most importantly, it will provide a rich research environment for our students during the retrofit and after, as they track performance metrics and qualitative feedback on the project."


Vassar College - $1.1 Million: Will construct a new, net zero emission building for the college's Institute for the Liberal Arts along with a dashboard that reports construction and installation progress. It will feature real-time data monitoring to demonstrate project impacts and outcomes. Vassar students will contribute to the project through research and by analyzing building performance metrics to verify savings achieved through net-zero construction.

"From the project's inception, our mission for the Institute for the Liberal Arts has been to create a space that fosters path-breaking collaborations between Vassar, our region, and the globe,” said Elizabeth H. Bradley, president, Vassar College. “We are honored to be selected as a winner of the Energy to Lead Competition and look forward to bringing this project to fruition."

The Energy to Lead Competition is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and supports colleges and universities that strive to meet their financial, environmental, academic, and community goals through clean energy solutions. Over three rounds, the Energy to Lead competition received 82 submissions from 56 private and public colleges and has awarded ten colleges and universities over $11 million since 2016. Past winners include:

  • Bard College Micro Hydro for Macro Impact;
  • Broome Community College Geothermal Learning Laboratory;
  • Rochester Institute of Technology Energy Conservation through Dynamic Airflow and Peak-Demand Analytics;
  • Suffolk County Community College Renewable Energy and STEM Center;
  • The University at Buffalo Localizing Buffalo's Renewable Energy Future; and
  • University of Rochester Toward Net Zero: A Scalable Solar Generation and Energy Storage Solution.


"The Energy to Lead Competition is an impactful initiative that allows us to provide incentives and include local universities in efforts to reach our clear energy goals,” said Sen. Kevin Parker. “I applaud NYSERDA and Governor Cuomo for continuing to implement initiatives that will bring community partners together for the betterment of the environment." 

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