Experts in heating and cooling systems came together at the Lincoln Center on June 5 campus to discuss the challenges of helping colleges and universities lower their carbon footprint.

Decarbonizing High Education: A Roadmap for Decarbonization Master Planning, a half day of presentations and networking, brought together representatives from Fordham, NYU, Columbia, CUNY, Con Edison, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB), and design, development, and construction professionals.

It was presented by the New York chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

The conference featured a presentation by Emily Hoffman, director of building energy and emissions performance at the New York City Department of Buildings. Hoffman shared ways attendees can comply with Local Law 97, an ordinance that the City of New York passed in 2019 as a way to reduce the carbon produced by buildings.

Buildings are responsible for two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the law places carbon caps on most buildings larger than 25,000 square feet. By 2030, Hoffman said the law is predicted to spur the reduction of 6 million tons of greenhouse gasses and create over 26,700 jobs.

Jin Jin Huang, committee chair for ASHRAE’s higher education decarbonization subcommittee, said the group, which represents manufacturers of equipment such as the clean energy servers that were installed at the Rose Hill campus, created a special subcommittee dedicated to institutions of higher education.

For the first meeting, she reached out to Vincent Burke, Fordham’s Director of Sustainability. The University, which launched an ambitious seven-year climate change plan this spring, agreed to host the gathering.

“We have so many universities with varying resources, sizes, challenges, and funding, and we just want to bring everybody into a room together,” Huang said.“We wanted to bring in regulators, design folks, university representatives, and groups like Con Ed and NYSERDA, which can address funding mechanisms, so that we can all talk about the challenges of decarbonization and electrification.”

A view of people seated in an amitheatre
The conference was the first of what organizers hope will be many meetings aimed at tackling decarbonization.

Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.