Energy & Sustainability

Photo Credit: Frank Oudeman

In 2011, Columbia University Irving Medical Center pledged to reduce our carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2025. Since then, we've been making innovative changes throughout our campus, from installing LED bulbs and providing more bike racks to implementing automated systems that manage building controls and monitor energy consumption. We've also completed all our major new buildings renovation projects to LEED Silver level or better. These energy management strategies led to a 45% reduction in carbon emissions in 2019. New planning is currently underway to put us in a path towards carbon neutrality by the year 2050 or earlier.

In 2017, Columbia University launched Sustainable Columbia -- a University-wide sustainability initiative. Learn more about Sustainable Columbia.

What You Can Do

A more sustainable campus cannot be created overnight. While we work each day to establish more sustainable practices, everyone at CUIMC can help create a more sustainable campus by following the three simple R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Learn how you can reduce your energy usage and start recycling around campus. CUIMC Facilities also offers services for furniture removal and electronics disposal.

To get involved in expanding our sustainability efforts, you can join the Sustainable Leaders Network. Contact environment@columbia.edu.

Milestones and Updates

Carbon Neutrality

One of CUIMC's sustainability goals is to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. A combination of energy management strategies such as energy conservation, switching fuel sources from oil to natural gas, and purchasing clean power helped us reduce 45% in absolute carbon emissions in 2019.

Renewable Energy

In 2018 and 2019, we purchased 100% of our electricity consumption through clean, renewable energy sources. The amount of renewable electrical energy procured equals to 23,537 homes electrical use in a year.

Bike Friendly University

In 2018, the League of American Bicyclists honored Columbia University with a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University award in recognition of the institution's achievements in promoting and enabling safe, accessible bicycling on campus. Based on the recommendations to improve from the current Silver to Gold status, CUIMC will be adding two brand new bike repair stations in the parking facilities located at 100 Haven Avenue and Russ Barrie Medical Science Pavilion.

Sustainable Workplace Certification

Columbia University School of Nursing received a PLATINUM Workplace Certification by the Columbia Office of Environmental Stewardship for their efforts. This was the highest level of certification awarded amongst all Columbia University schools. We see this as a huge area of improvement where other schools at CUIMC can participate in this workplace certification program.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Currently, we have 11 dual-port electric vehicle charging stations across three garages at CUIMC. We will be continually evaluating the needs of additional charging stations across our campus. Did you know that charging your vehicle is entirely FREE? 

Leadership and in Environment and Energy Design (LEED) Buildings

The Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center and Columbia University School of Nursing and both achieved LEED Gold status in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Currently, all new construction projects adhere to sustainability and energy efficiency standards.

Dashboard for Energy Management and Sustainability Dashboard

In August 2020, we envision the release of an energy management dashboard. The work is currently ongoing to update the dashboard with historical data so that a comparison can be made with current data. The dashboard will be made available via this website, and a link would be provided to the individual school's webpage as well. 

Additional Efforts 

We are working on creating verified and usable data around bottled water consumption and paper consumption; use of personal space heaters; package deliveries; composting opportunities; smart commuter programs; encouraging the formation of green cells within each school; identifying energy and water-reducing opportunities; eliminating the use of Styrofoam containers; behavioral changes that can lead to sustainability; opportunities for green labs; training and engagement activities around sustainability opportunities; paper-free student and staff orientation; reducing wastage around consumables; setting up furniture exchang; and installing high efficiency -80 freezers.