New York City Carbon Challenge
In 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg set the audacious goal of reducing the city’s total greenhouse emissions 30 percent by 2030. He challenged 17 hospitals and universities, including FIT, to achieve this goal as quickly as possible.
In 2011, FIT was the first institution to meet the goal of a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions. As of 2016, the college has achieved a 46 percent reduction, with a goal of a 50 percent reduction by 2025.
This feat was accomplished mostly by updating the college’s heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation systems. Installing 16,000 energy-efficient light fixtures with occupancy sensors also made a big impact. Efficient hot water heaters, refrigerators, washer/dryers, windows, and even elevator controls reduce the college’s carbon footprint as well. FIT continues to see improved energy efficiency by investing in cutting-edge climate-control systems for The Museum at FIT, the Gladys Marcus Library, and the residence halls.
FIT also participates in citywide energy demand response programs with Con Edison, the New York Independent System Operators and the New York Power Authority. This calls for reducing energy loads on hot days to help maintain stability in the regional electricity grid.
For its commitments to energy reduction and the use of clean energy, FIT has also been recognized as a leader in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s REV Campus Challenge, part of his Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.
From the street level, FIT’s imposing brutalist buildings are a signature of New York City’s urban landscape. Look at FIT from above, and a greener picture emerges. The roofs of the Shirley Goodman Resource Center and David Dubinsky Student Center are covered with 1 1/4 acres of greenery that have been installed beginning in 2010. A green roof atop the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, slated for spring 2017, will boost the total area to 1 1/3 acres.
To create FIT’s green roofs, sedum plants, which are hardy succulents that require little watering or maintenance, were installed on the roof in large trays.
Green roofs do all of the following:
- help insulate the buildings, reducing the need for heating and air conditioning.
- absorb carbon dioxide, improving air quality and lessening the college’s carbon footprint.
- reduce the heat island effect—the reason New York City is a few degrees warmer than its environs—making FIT’s climate more livable.
- soak up water during heavy rainfall that would otherwise flood the city’s sewers, thus preventing untreated sewage from flowing into the Hudson and East rivers.
Environmentally friendly renovations
When renovating classrooms and other spaces on campus, FIT puts sustainability at the foreground:
- Recycled, nontoxic, low-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials are used when possible.
- In most cases, flooring is simple polished concrete, which requires nothing to be manufactured and is easy to maintain.
- Construction materials are sourced within 500 miles of New York City.
- Construction waste is brought to a nearby facility to be recycled.
- Low-E windows reflect light, reducing air-conditioning costs.
- LED lights with occupancy and daylight sensors are extremely energy-efficient.
Campus recycling program
FIT has implemented a comprehensive recycling program in all campus buildings to rival that at any New York City institution.
- The New York City Department of Sanitation picks up paper, plastic, metal, and glass for recycling.
- Food waste in the dining hall is composted and made into fertilizer.
- Electronics are broken down into components and recycled or sold.
- A comprehensive hazardous waste management process ensures that toxic and flammable chemicals are disposed of safely and responsibly.
- Light bulbs are broken down into their component parts and recycled.
- Toner and ink cartridges are shredded and made into new cartridges.
- Construction debris, such as wood and concrete, are sorted and recycled at a nearby facility.
FIT’s new academic building
A new LEED-certified building on West 28th Street, slated to open in the 2019-20 academic year, will feature numerous innovations.
- A photovoltaic facade will distribute light throughout the building while collecting solar energy for heating and cooling systems.
- Smart classrooms will make strategic use of natural light.
- State-of-the-art heating, cooling, and ventilation systems will provide maximal energy efficiency.
- An additional green roof will complement the existing 1 1/3 acres of green roofs on FIT’s campus.