Energy Efficiency

Facilities continuously strives to help make Columbia University more energy efficient. A few of these examples include the installation and use of:  

Columbia Teaches Energy Savings With Help From Con Edison

Columbia to Save More Than $700,000 a Year

Con Edison's Green Team has helped one of the world's leading universities save more than $700,000 a year in energy costs through upgrades to the school's water-chilling system.

Columbia University received $469,000 in incentives through Con Edison's Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program to offset part of the project's $2.25 million cost.

"This is a great example of how our energy-efficiency programs can help customers make smart investments to reduce their consumption, save money and improve the environmental performance of their buildings," said Rebecca Craft, Con Edison's director of Energy Efficiency. "We encourage other customers to follow the lead of this great New York City institution and check out our programs."

"This project helps us provide efficient and reliable service to our students, faculty and staff," said Frank Martino, vice president of Operations at Columbia. "Having a sophisticated, real-time monitoring system allows us to track consumption and performance metrics and make adjustments when necessary."

The upgrade will reduce electricity usage at Columbia's storied campus in Manhattan's Morningside Heights neighborhood by 3.5 million kilowatt hours a year. The school will recoup its investment in just over two years.

The project, a key part of Columbia's ambitious campaign to reduce its energy consumption, consisted of installing a comprehensive network of controls, metering, hardware, programming software, and other upgrades to the school's chilled water system.

Columbia selected Johnson Controls and Optimum Energy to install the new equipment. The new metering equipment and programming software allow the University to closely measure and control energy use within the chiller plant.

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation's largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues and $42 billion in assets. The utility provides electric, gas and steam service to more than 3 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, New York.

Con Edison's Commercial & Industrial Program lets eligible customers receive financial incentives to upgrade heating and cooling systems and save up to 50 percent on energy surveys. Customers can also get incentives to use less energy when demand is high. For more information, go to

The Con Edison Green Team has an energy-efficiency program for everyone. To find out which program is right for you, visit or call 1-877-870-6118. For additional information, visit, our green site,, or Facebook at Power of Green.

-Con Edison Media Relations

Green Roofs

Building green starts at the foundation and extends to the roof. Making roofs green is a major way to contribute to the creation of sustainable environments. Green roofs provide partial solutions to several environmental problems that are common in urban locations, including storm-water management, the reduction of pollution and improved air quality.

Making a roof green can also reduce costs on energy and roof upkeep as well as insulate and protect buildings. Grass and plants growing on green roofs take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into oxygen, helping to cool temperatures in the hottest months and clean the air supply.  

In early November 2007, Columbia University Facilities installed green roofs at 423 West 118th Street and 635 West 115th Street, home of the Office of Environmental Stewardship. The University also has a green roof at Uris Hall (the lower roof). Read more about our green roofs

You can also view a video by clicking on the following links:  or  

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Hybrid Cars

As part of the University's vision to develop more environmentally friendly initiatives across campus, the Department of Public Safety recently replaced its entire patrol fleet with hybrid cars. These new hybrids--which are being used on both the Morningside Campus and Medical Center campus--will be used for patrol, escort, and other public safety-related services. To read more about Public Safety's hybrid cars, click here.

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Green Labs 

In the design of the Northwest Corner Building (NWC) and other projects, Columbia is collaborating with Labs21, a voluntary partnership program jointly sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) to improve the environmental performance of U.S. laboratories. The goal of the program is to encourage the development of sustainable, high-performance and low-energy laboratories nationwide. As a Labs21 Partner, Columbia will set measurable energy and environmental performance goals for the seven floors of laboratories in ISB, benchmark performance using Labs21 tools and share performance results.  

Fume Hood Upgrades
Phased rehabilitation and upgrading to "low-flow" fume hoods on the Morningside Campus is yet another contribution to Columbia's energy-saving efforts.  To read more, click here.

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Energy-Saving Lighting and Lighting Sensors

For about 15 years, the University has been replacing incandescent lighting with more efficient, longer-lasting fluorescent bulbs.

The environmental benefit of fluorescent lighting rests in its energy savings. One 27-watt fluorescent light has the same light output as one 100-watt incandescent bulb, translating into a near 75 percent energy savings. This means less energy and the pollutants and green house gases associated with producing that electricity. In fact, the life span of a 27-watt compact fluorescent bulb will save more than 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere when compared with the 100 watt bulb. Moreover, the conventional incandescent bulb lasts for 750 hours, while the fluorescent one lives to the ripe old age of 10,000 hours.

On the Morningside campus, lighting controls include timers in most academic spaces. These devices prevent lights from being left on overnight and are usually programmed for 10-to-12 hour control settings. Recent technology improvements have made occupancy sensors much more reliable than they have been in the past in determining whether a space is truly vacant and switching off lights accordingly. The University will move to this newer, more-sophisticated type of lighting control on new construction projects. 

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Geothermal Energy

Renovations at Knox Hall, located at Columbia affiliate Union Theological Seminary on 122nd Street and Broadway, will utilize four 2,000-foot deep geothermal wells. The geothermal wells, each eight inches in diameter, will provide heating and cooling by drawing ground water from the earth. The wells eliminate the less efficient chillers associated with more traditional systems. By coupling the building's mechanical systems with earth's natural resources, the geothermal wells will allow for the installation of a sustainable system design which will benefit not only the University but the community as a whole.  By using this "greener" system, the University is projecting an energy savings of 50% - 60%. Additionally, since the wells do not require any unsightly mechanical equipment on Knox's roof or façade, the University will be able to respect the building's historical nature and existing architecture.

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Heating and Cooling Management Systems

With the appointment of George Pecovic as Facilities' new Assistant Vice President, Plant Engineering & Utilities, Columbia can anticipate new heating and cooling systems that are both economic and environmentally beneficial. Read more about:

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