Columbia Hosts Clean Construction Workshop to Combat Diesel Emissions

In today's construction industry, the need for cleaner diesel operations is becoming increasing apparent. In efforts to educate colleges and universities about strategies, tools, and incentives for reducing diesel emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Columbia University Facilities teamed to host a College and University Clean Construction Workshop on January 28, 2009.

Executive Vice President of Columbia University Facilities Joe Ienuso welcomed participants to the full-day event and spoke about the need for responsible building in New York City. "We want to use all the best technologies to do work in an effective way, and we need to push and encourage each other to do the right thing," said Ienuso.

George Pavlou, EPA's Acting Regional Administrator, noted the timeliness of the event as an answer to President Obama's call for reduced greenhouse gas emissions. He also led the day's discussion on the adverse health effects of diesel exhaust and the necessity of using alternative energy. 

Five information sessions were held throughout the day, each featuring a moderator and group of panelists. Topics ranged from the use of cleaner fuels to diesel retrofit technology. Andrew Darrell, vice president of Living Cities at the Environmental Defense Fund, discussed case studies of successful implementation of clean diesel emission reduction projects at colleges and universities. Among the critical success factors for these projects is the need to walk the site, know your equipment, and not be afraid to fail.

Ramesh Raman, executive director of Construction Field Compliance for Columbia University's Manhattanville Development, served as a panelist. Under his leadership, Columbia's new mixed-use campus in Manhattanville will be a model for green urban development. Raman was joined by Philip Pitruzzello, vice president for Columbia University Manhattanville Development, who concluded the day's sessions.

Pitruzzello spoke about the use of clean diesel in all phases of Manhattanville's construction and how this will be put into practice over the next 20 years. "Our plan incorporates smart growth and a number of green building design principles," said Pitruzzello. "Our construction equipment will use new, cleaner diesel engines; ultra-low sulfur diesel; and a high-efficiency verified particulate filter in the exhaust. This is in line with our commitment to reduce emissions by 30% by 2012 as part of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC."

Columbia has committed to design its new campus in accordance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) Rating System.  LEED-ND integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design.

Five other of Columbia's capital projects are candidates for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, including the Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Faculty House, Columbia Alumni Center, Northwest Corner Building, and Knox Hall. For more information on LEED, visit