Columbia Helps “Save New York” by Joining Energy Reduction Incentive Program - February 5, 2007

Columbia Helps "Save New York" by Joining Energy Reduction Incentive Program

February 5, 2007

Columbia University has taken another major step forward in its commitment to environmental stewardship by enrolling in the award-winning electric demand response program "Operation Save New York", administered by Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc. (ECS). As part of the program, the University agrees to conserve electricity in certain areas of its operations when there is an electric shortage in New York State.

The idea behind demand response programs is to have customers reduce electric use when demand for electricity is forecasted to reach or exceed available supply. Without these programs, the typical method for dealing with imbalances on the power grid is to enact rolling brownouts, which leave communities in the dark without warning. Demand response programs allow facilities to choose to participate in electric conservation, with advance notice, and receive monetary compensation in return.

"Columbia's students, faculty and staff have a long-standing commitment to responsible environmental stewardship," said Matthew Early, Associate Vice President of Operations at Columbia University Facilities. "We are looking forward to making a positive impact on our community by joining Operation Save New York."

With electric supply remaining stagnant while demand increases every year, demand response programs are effective tools to conserve energy. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), there is a shrinking cushion between electricity supply and a growing demand, particularly in the "downstate" area. On Aug. 2, 2006, New York State set a new record peak electric demand of 33,939 megawatts, breaking the prior year's record by 1,864 megawatts. Demand response programs currently have the ability to lower total demand by over 3 percent in New York State.

Columbia will receive day-ahead notice of periods when the electric grid is forecasted to be unstable and will respond by reducing chiller set points, running the HVAC system at a lower setting, and turning off lighting, elevators and non-critical equipment. ECS will also install metering in academic buildings at the University's main Morningside Heights campus, Baker Field Athletic Complex, Nevis Laboratories and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

"Metering will improve our ability to collect data," said Nilda Mesa, Columbia's Director of Environmental Stewardship. "With the data, we can begin to measure our energy usage and carbon footprint, and then develop strategies for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. With the knowledge we will gain, we will also be able to develop incentive programs to manage our energy usage effectively."

The University is also working with ECS on a detailed energy audit to discover ways to make Columbia's facilities more energy efficient on a day-to-day basis and to utilize enabling technology for responding to electric shortage emergency events.

Mesa says that the demand response program builds on an array of environmental efforts already in place on our campuses that seek to minimize the University's environmental footprint and further enhance the culture of respect for the environment within the Columbia community. To learn more about Columbia's Environmental Stewardship Initiative, please visit: To learn more about demand response programs and "Operation Save New York" please visit