The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York Power Authority have announced that 55 colleges and universities across the state signed the REV Campus Challenge, pledging to implement clean energy projects and principles on campus and in their local communities.
According to NYSERDA, the initiative is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. Announced by Cuomo in 2015, the REV Campus Challenge obtains commitments from two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities to demonstrate clean energy leadership in greenhouse-gas emission reduction, research and development, curricula integration, and community engagement. It also supports the state’s recently adopted 50% by 2030 clean energy standard.
In its first year of operation, the REV Campus Challenge has already reached more than 30% of its goal to enroll 150 colleges in the state. NYSERDA states there are 12 colleges signed up in New York City; eight in central New York; seven each in western New York and the Mid-Hudson Region; four each in Southern Tier, Capital Region, North Country and Mohawk Valley regions; three in the Finger Lakes; and two on Long Island.
“Colleges and universities can play a critical role in driving clean energy activities by putting ideas from the classroom to work on campus and in their communities,” says John B. Rhodes, president and CEO of NYSERDA. “We thank the campus leaders who have taken the REV Campus Challenge pledge and urge the others to follow suit, as every institution can help the state achieve Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy goals.”
As a first step to joining the REV Campus Challenge, many member institutions will need to create or update a road map for managing energy use and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. According to NYSERDA, the challenge will provide resources and funding opportunities to assist in this road map development and has a goal of establishing road maps at 80% of REV Campus Challenge member campuses by 2025.
Also, NYSERDA says challenge members will engage in peer-to-peer mentorship and knowledge sharing among institutions to increase the rate of clean energy project development. In addition, the challenge aims to increase participation by 30% above current levels with groups such as the New York Coalition for Sustainability in Higher Education.
According to NYSERDA, each school chooses from three membership levels – Leader, Achiever or Participant – to indicate its current progress toward clean energy adoption.
Leaders have demonstrated comprehensive campus clean energy investments, embrace clean energy research and development and curricula efforts at their institutions, and are looking to increase engagement with their communities. Achievers have formally committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and have dedicated staff to focus on clean energy investments. Participants have a strong desire to jump-start their institution’s commitment to clean energy, engage in energy-efficiency opportunities, and investigate the potential for on-campus renewable energy projects.
NYSERDA says 20 colleges and universities are currently designated as Leaders, 20 are Achievers, and 15 are Participants in the REV Campus Challenge.