CUNY should install Baruch solar panels as part of its sustainability goals



The Editorial Board

As part of its capital fiscal year 2022 budget request, CUNY wrote that it is dedicated to sustainability efforts, reducing carbon emissions and becoming more energy efficient.

A great way for CUNY to make good on those goals is to implement a program to install solar panels on the buildings of all 25 CUNY campuses, including Baruch College. Conversations about installing solar panels at Baruch are not new, and CUNY seems to have the bandwidth to do so.

According to the university’s 2022 budget request, CUNY is already trying to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified.

“CUNY’s capital program and conservation initiatives reflect the University’s commitment to sustainable technology and energy efficiency,” the budget request reads. “New CUNY buildings and major renovations will be a minimum of LEED-certified Silver or equivalent. CUNY’s capital program and associated initiatives are guided by the following energy and environmental State and City mandates.”

The request then goes on to discuss the statewide Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that required the state of New York to have a 100% carbon-free electricity system and to reduce carbon emissions 85% from 1990 levels by the year 2050. By 2030, the state has to have reduced carbon emissions by 40% from 1990 levels.

CUNY’s senior colleges are also part of the BuildSmart 2025 program. The goals for this program are for all “state entities” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% before 2030 and by 80% before 2050.

Citywide, the New York City Climate Mobilization Act requires the campuses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, with the overarching goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% before 2050.

The university is developing a five-year carbon and energy reduction plan to help meet these goals.

“CUNY is developing a five-year carbon and energy reduction plan to meet the NYC Climate Mobilization Act mandates at the Community Colleges,” the budget request explained. “Measures include implementation of high- efficiency fluorescent and LED lighting technology; the upgrading, renewal and/or expansion of digital environmental control systems; retro-commissioning of CUNY buildings; and installation of real-time utility metering and building sub-metering systems.”

However, it doesn’t mention installing solar panels. Solar panels would allow CUNY to get its energy from a renewable, sustainable source that can help power buildings across the university.

Installation of solar panels can help CUNY meet its sustainability goals and help the environment, while also powering buildings across the city for the thousands of students and staff that enter CUNY campuses daily.

CUNY has the financial and planning ability to create a solar energy program — so with enough vocal support from students, faculty and staff, solar panels at Baruch and other CUNYs can hopefully become a reality.