Sustainable Columbia

Operations is working to help achieve goals set by the University's Sustainability Plan 2030, contributing directly to three of the plan's major focus areas: Campus Energy, Transportation, and Responsible Design and Construction.

100% Renewable Zero Emissions Electricity

Beginning in 2018 and annually thereafter, Columbia has reported an offset of 100 percent of brown grid power emissions from electricity with the purchase of renewable energy credits.

A graphic of a Green morningside campus
Strong Baseline Marks for Building Energy Efficiency

More than 80 percent of Columbia’s eligible buildings receiving an A or B rating in New York City’s  benchmarking laws, which require eligible buildings to measure and report their energy and water consumption annually for transparency.

A group of people recycling into appropriate bins
Reducing Waste Sent to Landfills

Columbia sends 95 percent of waste generated from academic buildings to a waste-to-energy plant, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill to only 5 percent.

Sustainability Plan 2030 Goals

A blue and green graphic that says, "goal net 0 emissions"
Operations is helping Columbia achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner by:
A blue and green graphic that has a bus that says, "Zero Vehicle Emissions by 2037"
Efforts by Operations are key to helping the University reduce vehicle emissions to zero by 2037 or sooner by:
  • Requiring that retired department vehicles be replaced only with hybrid or electric vehicles through 2027, and with only electric vehicles after 2027, pending market availability.
  • Offsetting emissions that cannot be eliminated with strategic offset projects until net zero is met, by 2037 or sooner.

Our Sustainability Initiatives

Students check Clean + Go Green bins full of electronics that are next to Butler Library.
Clean + Go Green

Operations holds its award-winning Clean + Go Green program twice a year for the recycling, reuse, or proper disposal of large, unwanted items.

A large, bright blue chiller.
Chiller Plant Modernization

Electric drive chillers were installed to modernize the University's central chilled water plant, producing chilled water up to 30 percent more efficiently, reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy costs. 

A person sitting in an electrical riding lawnmower, mowing a patch of grass next to Low Library.
Electric Grounds Equipment

More than 60 percent of grounds equipment to was transitioned to electric, including lawn mowers, leaf blowers, string trimmers, light duty power washers, and chain saws.

The trees atThe Plaza are illuminated with LED lights during the evening, with Lenfest Center for the Arts and Jerome L. Greene Science Center in the background.
Photo: Michael DiVito
LED Lighting Upgrades

LED products are the standard choice for new construction projects and bulb replacements across campus, including the annual tree lighting at College Walk and The Plaza.

A grounds team member puts mulch on flower beds as a method of organic weed control.
Organic Weed Control

The Grounds team uses 100 percent organic mulching as a sustainable approach to weed control and herbicide reduction.