State colleges go green

By John Celock | November 15, 2007 01:35PM

The state’s SUNY and CUNY college systems will make green building the standard for all new developments, a policy being outlined at a three-day upstate conference that ends today.

The public university systems, which have a combined 122 million square feet of space statewide, have made the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification the standard for new construction. Both systems are also looking for eco-friendly buildings as they lease new space around New York City.

The new policy, unveiled at a sustainability conference in Saratoga, aims to make the 64-campus system more energy-efficient. Older buildings will also be retrofitted as the system attempts to make a quarter of its space environmentally-friendly within a decade.

In New York City, SUNY operates the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn and Maritime College in the Bronx. It also leases space in a Manhattan commercial building at 33 West 42nd Street.

CUNY, which operates 23 campuses across the city, plans to lease a green building when it relocates several research programs from 555 West 57th Street, where it leases 175,000 square feet.

Iris Weinshall, CUNY’s vice chancellor for facilities planning, construction and management, said CUNY will focus on retrofitting existing buildings, which are on average 50 years old. CUNY is projecting savings of $6 to 8 million a year through energy savings.

The program will help position New York state as a national leader in green design, said John Reid, executive director of the state’s higher education commission and one of Governor Spitzer’s top higher education advisors.

David Gibson, president and managing principal of David Gibson Architects in New York, specializes in green design for college campuses and said more clients are asking for LEED-certified buildings.

“These schools are desperate to reduce costs,” he said.