YU Receives Recognition From New York State For Efforts in Reducing Its Carbon Footprint Across Campuses

By: Shira Krinksy  |  March 15, 2018

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently granted Yeshiva University with “Achiever” status in the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Campus Challenge. The REV Campus Challenge launched in Fall 2015 as part of Governer Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s larger REV initiative, “a strategy to build a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers,” according to NYSERDA’s website.

The REV Campus Challenge gives recognition and support to New York State colleges and universities that execute clean energy projects and  project these principles in the classroom as well as in surrounding communities.

YU has been granted “Achiever” status as a result of its extensive’ oil-to-gas conversion project for Zysman Hall, the Rubin and Morgenstern dormitories, and Furst Hall. It has also been awarded this recognition for successfully converting most YU buildings to LED lighting over the past two years.  These buildings include including Zysman Hall, Rubin Hall, the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, and the Samuel H. Wang YU High School for Girls (Central).

David Piako, who has been the energy manager at YU’s Office of Energy & Sustainability for close to a year, has recently taken the lead on YU’s involvement with the REV Campus Challenge.  “The goal of these projects is always to make sure that we know that how we are spending our utility money can have a substantial effect not only on our bottom line but also on society,” he said.

Pianko explained to The Observer the process that the university went through in order to get this recognition from the state. “Mr. Joseph Cook, Executive Director of University Operations started the process several years ago and succeeded in bringing the largest project project to fruition, namely, the oil to gas conversion of four buildings on the Wilf Campus. Furst, Rubin, Morg and Zyzman should be using natural gas by our next heating season, saving the University thousands of dollars and, as important, lowering our greenhouse gas emissions tremendously. This was a very big part of why we were given the recognition by New York State.”

Pianko added that, “University Operations, through Facilities Director Charles Totoro, began converting much of our lighting to LED in many midtown buildings and some buildings on Wilf Campus. In the middle of this [process], I was hired to help expedite the projects and to offer up new ideas. Last summer we updated Rubin Hall, Zysman Hall and Central in Queens.”

Josh Joseph, senior Vice President of YU, said as well that, “this recognition is a welcome acknowledgement of all that YU has been doing to both ‘do good and do well’–fulfilling our moral obligation to reduce the environmental effects of outdated technologies while also fulfilling our fiscal obligation to our supporters to reduce costs while improving efficiency whenever and wherever we can.”

Pianko echoed these feelings. “Higher education has the opportunity, the responsibility, and the great honor of leading global efforts to create a sustainable future,” he said. “The latest data shows that students seek schools that actively demonstrate sustainability leadership. Sustainability, and the sense of purpose it provides, may also enhance student retention.”

Most students are not aware of just how much effort the university has been putting in recently towards energy conservation. “I had no idea that YU was involved in this energy-saving initiative. Not only is it amazing that they have a hand in this project, but also that they have been recognized by the NYSERDA,” Talya Hyman, SCW ‘20, told The Observer.

NYSERDA is not the only agency that had recognized YU for its efforts in energy conservation. The rating organization ENERGY STAR, which is a part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, awarded the Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) a grade of 96. This was achieved partly by HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) as well as lighting upgrades.

YU is still looking for ways to improve in their energy conservation. Pianko said, “In the future , we hope to  retrofit the remaining buildings on the Wilf Campus and Cardozo with LED’s. We are also looking at solar and wind energy projects as well as wireless sensors for our HVAC and other mechanical equipment. The goal would be to not only save money but to enhance the comfort of the work and living space.”

Lastly, Pianko offered some ways that students can help out with YU’s energy conservation efforts. “Put your computer in sleep mode. Unplug Chargers. Some use 5-10% of their power when not in use. Take the stairs when possible–good for your health and saves wear and tear on the elevator. Walk, bike, carpool, subway. Print double-sided whenever possible. Donate old computer equipment. Don’t throw in the garbage–Recycle, recycle, recycle!”