Creating a Sustainable City through the NYC Carbon Challenge

NYC Carbon Challenge

Climate change is no longer an issue that can be ignored.  Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, and along with other natural disasters that have plagued the world in recent years have illuminated the dangers of climate change and made addressing the risks associated with it a top priority.

In 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a plan for New York City’s sustainable future called PlaNYC, which outlined specific goals and initiatives to address the challenges.  One of which was the NYC Carbon Challengewith the aggressive target of 30% carbon reduction citywide by year 2030.  With this, Mayor Bloomberg challenged NYC’s universities and hospitals to match the City’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at an accelerated pace of 30% in ten years.

April of 2013’s New York City Mayor’s Carbon Challenge Progress Report states, “Because 75 percent of New York City’s emissions come from its buildings, and 80 percent of the buildings that exist today will still be here in 2050, increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings represents the greatest opportunity to meet this goal.”

Since 2007, 17 of New York City’s leading universities (such as: Fordham University, St. John’s University, Columbia University, Berkeley College, and Fashion Institute of Technology); 11 of the largest NYC hospital organizations (such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Maimonides Medical Center); 12 global companies (such as Google, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and JetBlue); and 17 of the largest residential management firms (such as RY Management Co., Inc., Metropolitan Pacific Properties, and Century Property Management) – have accepted the NYC Carbon Challenge.


The NYC Carbon Challenge Progress Report states:

  • Six participants have already achieved the 30 percent goal: Barnard College (Barnard), the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York University (NYU), The Rockefeller University (Rockefeller), New York Hospital Queens (NYHQ), and Weill Cornell Medical College.
  • In five years, the universities have reduced their emissions intensity by a total of 12.8 percent. Six universities cut their emissions by 15 percent or more.
  • In three years, the hospitals cut their emissions intensity by 6.1 percent. Five hospitals cut emissions by 15 percent or more.

Participants have achieved results by pursing system upgrades and replacements, as well as improved operations and maintenance, retro-commissioning of building equipment, investments in public education aimed at awareness and behavioral change, and switching to cleaner sources of energy.

As the Challenge expands and more organizations take accountability for their role in climate change and action to cut GHG emissions – NYC will demonstrate its leadership in efforts against climate change and eventually becoming a sustainable city.